SBA offers free leadership training to small businesses

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  • SBA offers a free business leadership program.
  • Applicants must be in business for three years, have $250,000 annual sales, and at least one employee.
  • Two cohorts of 25 businesses to be accepted.

Small business leaders in South Central Pennsylvania have an opportunity to learn new business skills free of charge through the Small Business Administration.

Steve Dixel, Eastern Pa. District director, said the SBA THRIVE Emerging Leaders Reimagined program is being offered to two cohorts of 25 business leaders looking to grow their professional skills.

Businesses must be at least three years old, have $250,000 in sales, and at least one employee other than the owner to qualify for the program being offered in the Harrisburg/Lebanon region and King of Prussia, he said. That covers about 40 counties in Eastern Pennsylvania, including Lehigh Valley, he said.

The national program is intended to bring a business to the next level, said John Fleming, Mid-Atlantic Region administrator.

“This is transformative and will enable you to grow from a small business to a big business,” Fleming said.

The program is intended to fill a gap. Fleming said there are programs for startup businesses but none with a growth model.

THRIVE stands for Train, Hope, Rise, Innovate, Venture, Elevate. The program combines online learning with in-person sessions, focusing on leadership enhancement, strategic financial management, market innovation, and cultivating a thriving company culture, Dixel said.

Over a six-month period from late June to December, participants will engage in an interactive curriculum, receive coaching from experienced business experts, and develop a three-year strategic growth action plan, he added. The deadline to apply is April 28.

The program has expanded this year to 65 locations nationally. Fleming said it started in 10 of the largest cities, which included Philadelphia and each site only accepted 20 businesses.

“We now have more instructors and a longer program,” he said.

The program delivers customized engagement, problem-solving, and peer-to-peer interaction. Dixel said it fosters a business ecosystem among peers, government leaders, and the financial community. It helps build sustainable and scalable businesses that promote local and national economic development.

“We are looking for small businesses and managers with high growth potential,” Fleming said. “We are looking for a commitment to complete the program and for coachable people who are ready to be challenged.”

When the program started in 2008, 8,000 small businesses participated. Fleming said 11,000 jobs and $1 billion in revenue were realized.

Fleming said the businesses also secured around $4 billion in government contracts.

Last year, SBA got feedback from participants who said the in-person modules were the most valuable and more than 96% said they would recommend the program to their peers.

“This is executive level training and while it might not be an MBA, it offers teaching at that level,” Fleming said. “It offers a change to get into a network of successful businesses and an opportunity to grow.”

“The program is taught by leading business experts and attracts businesses from all sectors,” Dixel said. “We look forward to having them take part in the training.”

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