February 19, 2018by ContempoFrom Renee

As we meander through the remnants of winter with hopes of spring on the horizon I’m reflecting on the goals I set for 2018 rather than my resolutions—those seem to be too easy to break!

I set out this year to spend more time outdoors, to get out of my comfort zone with my business, to get stronger, and to continue learning.  This past week I managed to accomplish a number of those goals! I spent some time learning, made sure I got plenty of time outdoors, and I definitely spent time thinking how I could do things differently at the office.

I spent three inspiring days with nearly 3,000 other small business owners and alumni of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program (GS10KSB) in Washington D.C. It was the first ever gathering of GS10KSB graduates sponsored by Goldman Sachs.

For those of you not familiar with the GS10KSB program, it’s a program for small businesses that links learning to action. Through the program, participants gain practical skills in topics such as negotiation, marketing, and employee management that can immediately be put into action at the workplace. In addition, attendees receive the tools and professional support to develop a strategic and customized growth plan that will take their business to the next level.  Selected applicants gain access to a world-class business education and connections to a professional support network at no cost. The program has a 99% completion rate.

Small businesses drive the US economy. Across the U.S., graduates of the progrm are increasing their revenues and creating new jobs in their communities:

  • 45% reported creating new jobs
  • 64% of participants reported an increase in revenues
  • 80% are doing business with each other

I am proud to say that I graduated from the GS10KSB, Cleveland’s Cohort 13, in December 2016. Immediately following graduation, I spent nearly all of 2017 redoing a strategic plan for my business. I made some tough choices, like closing down a line of business that wasn’t profitable, and hiring one of the financial instructors from the program to help me with my 2018 strategic and financial plans. To date I have already seen an 18% increase in profit.

In Washington, I was able to network with my fellow Cohort 13 graduates, and to hear from some of the top entrepreneurs in the world including: Sara Blakely, Warren Buffet, Richard Branson, Tyler Perry (LINK TO SITES FOR ALL OF THESE PEOPLE) and also politicians who support small businesses across the nation. My biggest takeaways: it’s okay to fail, all you need to start a business is a great idea and a solution to a problem that appeals to most. Of course, I can tell you that you also need drive, passion and a work ethic that never stops!

One of the most surprising and inspiring parts of the week for me was having the opportunity, along with thousands of other small business owners, to descend upon “The Hill” to advocate for small business. I had never done that before, but now that I have I may do it again! The common questions and concerns among the group of business owners were similar in the two sessions I attended with Senators Robert Portman and Sherrod Brown— lowering taxes for small businesses and access to capital and workforce development/continued education. I’m hopeful our visit and our continued advocacy as a collective group will make a difference! For more information on the program you can visit:

Please note this is not a paid endorsement, just my own opinions and thoughts as a graduate of the GS10KSB program.