Recently, we had our first class of graduates complete one of our newest programs, the Start and Grow a Small Business course! Offered through our Fed 40 app, this program is key to creating a hunger-free world.
Creating a small business is a reliable way to foster financial independence and self-sufficiency, two pivotal factors in ending hunger. But for the hopeful business owner, it takes more than a Google search to understand the scope of starting your own small business: there are simply too many resources to sift through. This class breaks it down and provides credible knowledge and a community of support to foster success.
Over the past twelve weeks, the graduates have learned what it takes to make their small businesses flourish. In the beginning, there was a lot of doubt and uncertainty among them. But as Dave Green, our CEO, explains, that was nowhere to be found at the end. “They were on fire,” he said, discussing goals and their next moves as business owners. It was a complete change from the start of the program to the end. “The transformation of the students was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever seen in my life.”
This class emphasized that starting a small business requires more than just a great idea: you need the tools to create a foundation and the knowledge to know how to turn dreams into reality. As one of the program’s participants put it, “This class takes that desire to create a business and teaches you what to do with it.”
The reasons for wanting to start a small business are different for everyone in the program. Our youngest participant, Sarah, completed this program as she finished her last year of high school and is starting her own photography business. More than that though, she wants to take the entrepreneurial skills that she’s gained from this program to reach a bigger goal down the road: starting a nonprofit that empowers and supports girls in STEM. One of her biggest takeaways is learning how to grow a vision and run with it.
BeeBee on the other hand, originally came to this class on behalf of her entrepreneurial daughter, who couldn’t attend the classes due to a busy work schedule. Being able to give her daughter guidance has been rewarding on its own, but coming to these classes has also benefited BeeBee’s own life.
BeeBee’s small business, Busy Bee’s Unique Cleaning Service Inc., was disrupted after Hurricane Irma struck. The storm caused her roof to collapse and forced her out of her home for six months. Once she settled back in, she wasn’t sure that she wanted to keep the business going. She felt stuck. But after coming to the class for her daughter, BeeBee realized that she was capable of pushing herself to take her cleaning service right where she wants it to be and is making moves to grow.
Looking back, she says her biggest accomplishment in this class is simple: getting across the finish line. To those who aren’t sure whether they should take that leap of faith and pursue this dream, she says, “Just finish it.”
A Growing Community
Beyond providing these entrepreneurs the tools they need to start and grow a business, this class has also been an opportunity for them to form a community of like-minded people. This system of support is sometimes all you need to believe that you can take that risk. Knowing that everyone has similar fears and struggles broke down the barriers between them, creating an environment where they could spur each other on in achieving their dreams.
The success of our first Start and Grow a Small Business class is already driving innovation for its next incarnation. FCE is hoping to take the program nation-wide and is working on finding ways to serve more people at the same time. Dave hopes to turn the Start and Grow a Small Business program into the largest entrepreneurial training program in the U.S. “By leading more people towards self-sufficiency and financial independence, we’d be taking a huge step towards achieving our mission and vision.”