The seminar is limited to roughly 20 business owners for the entire course, but Program Coordinator Kinsey Hicks said there were still some spaces open. Before being accepted into the program, those interested must complete an application form on the SBDC’s website, www.georgiasbdc.org and select the Rome/Dalton office.
Each module will focus on a particular topic, such as marketing, finance or management, with the sessions lasting from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Facilitator Tim Fulton said the lessons were a combination of presented information and participants exchanging their own ideas and experiences. The intention, he said, was to help local businesses expand.
“A couple of things that I’ll hear from our participants, or even our alumni, one thing they find sometimes that ... at some point in the development of the business, they get stuck. You know, revenues get stuck and they try to figure out ways of continuing to grow the business and they find, as a result of going through the program, they learn of different growth strategies that they might not have heard otherwise — whether it’s from me or a speaker, or in many cases from one of the other participants. So they’re able to implement certain growth that they may not have heard of before,” Fulton said.
Fulton also noted some business owners tend to specialize in one particular skill, and do not have experience in other matters, such as hiring practices or accounting. The GrowSmart seminars, he believed, are a way for owners to become more well-rounded in operating their business.
“They know how to fix food, so they start a restaurant, or they know plumbing and they start a plumbing business, and they don’t know a lot about the other aspects of running a business, like hiring people or putting together a marketing plan, or reading financials,” he said. “So that’s what this program does, is help try to fill out their understanding of how to run a business in the key, functional areas of the business.”
The program, according to information provided by the SBDC, is limited to businesses that have been in operation for at least two years, have at least one non-owner employee and have annual revenues of $300,000 or more. The seminar is open to business owners in the 13 northwest Georgia counties the Rome/Dalton office serves.
For the past two years the seminar has been held in Rome, but for 2013 the local office decided to move it to Bartow County.
“We have a great relationship with the [Carterville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce], and they were looking for a way to actively expand their relationship with SBDC, and we felt like this was a great way to open up and expand that relationship,” said Area Director Richard Montanaro.
“This is a very popular seminar. ... It’s a strategic planning, growth-oriented seminar that helps entrepreneurs and small business people who are, generally, actively involved in the day to day of their business, and it gives them the opportunity to take this time out and work with other professionals and businesses of similar size and discuss the issues of the day and the issues that affect them, [and] how they might be able to strategically grow their business.”
When Fulton facilitates a discussion, he said he enjoys hearing how owners have worked to improve their businesses and manage growth. In some cases he has used a story or information from an owner in another class.
“I really enjoy it. The dynamics of entrepreneurship are changing so, so rapidly that, to me, it’s exciting being around a room full of successful business owners,” he said.
For more information on the upcoming GrowSmart program, contact the Rome/Dalton SBDC office at 706-622-2006.