Continued from Part I of My Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Story…
Once admitted to the program, I was assigned to Cohort 5 (the next session) with twenty-three other scholars, comprised of a diverse group of business owners, in industries ranging from construction to restaurants. Together, we employed 337 people and had revenues of $39 million. That’s quite a socio-economic impact on the region! Some of the businesses were young and experiencing growing pains, some had plateaued, and some—as in my case—had declined through the years.
Over the course of four months, encompassing sixteen classes, I embarked on a crash course in running a business. Overwhelming? Yes! So many questions ran through my head. Could I do it? Maybe, with the right support. Was I still cut out to be a business owner? And more importantly, could I regain that entrepreneurial spirit that led me from a one-person operation to up to twelve employees during the company’s peak? Or was I going to be another statistic for the book of failed businesses? What would be required for business growth? Or more specifically, what did I need to do to grow Rent-A-Nerd, Inc.?
The final question was possibly most important, and this is what 10,000 Small Businesses is about—developing a growth plan. As defined by Babson College, a growth plan is “a strategic and tactical implementation tool to guide your business growth.” Many entrepreneurs develop a business plan before the doors are even open. But what happens after you open the door to your business is just as important.
Over the next several months I worked diligently on my plan with the lessons learned in my Cohort. I identified my strengths and weaknesses, the biggest risks to Rent-A-Nerd, Inc., how to market and sell business, and more importantly, how to work on my business and not in it. The single most important item that I took away from my training was how to step back and look at the big picture, which is something that I had never done with Rent-A-Nerd, Inc.
I started implementing parts of my plan before it was even finished. A term used quite a bit during the lessons was metrics. I determined what metrics were important to Rent-A-Nerd, Inc. and I started keeping track of them, such as billable hours, contract profitability, and contract renewals, just to name a few. The turnaround at Rent-A-Nerd, Inc. was almost immediate. My employees were all onboard and were ready to work hard at improving the company. Any successful business owner will tell you, “You are only as good as your employees.”
In 2013, Rent-A-Nerd, Inc. increased revenues 13 percent. Some of our largest debts have been paid down quite a bit. We have added one employee and we are expecting to hire another technician in the first half of 2014. The Nerds are back and I will leave you with our vision for the future: NERDS RULE!!! Rent-A-Nerd, Inc. is poised to be the go-to computer sales and service provider for businesses in the New Orleans Metropolitan Area. Indeed, as our slogan says, we are your IT staff without the overhead. And, we’re better than ever, thanks to Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses.