You have a great idea for a new business or for expanding an existing business. You could strike off on your own. Or you could take a FastTrac course through the MO SBTDC. FastTrac courses are offered to address the needs of start-up and existing companies and can help you at any stage of the entrepreneurial journey.
If you have an idea for a business but need a plan, FastTrac New Venture is for you. In this series, participants look at all aspects of a proposed company, exploring the feasibility of the business concept and how to develop a viable business plan. Participants also learn about start-up issues and how to address competitors, legal matters, marketing and financial management. Participants don't just learn about business, they work on their own business endeavors throughout the course. And MO SBTDC counselors are available to help long after the courses are over.
If you currently own a company and are looking for proven strategies and processes to facilitate its growth, you need FastTrac GrowthVenture. This series is targeted to existing businesses who want to develop a plan for growing their companies. Hindsight is 20/20, and participants will use that knowledge to create a framework and a plan to improve business performance. Facilitators are knowledgeable entrepreneurs-practitioners attuned to the issues that influence business decisions and are able and willing to provide one-to-one coaching to move your business forward.
FastTrac TechVenture is the best choice if you are developing a technology or science-based business and need help acquiring funding and intellectual property protection. Designed specifically by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, this program is an intensive course designed to give technology and science-based entrepreneurs a proven framework and network of connections to help grow a great idea into the next viable innovation. Experienced business coaches and successful entrepreneurs work together to facilitate critical teachings, guide lively small group sessions and share practical experiences. Participants learn with and from their peers, creating a powerful network that will continue well after the program is complete.
Virginia Wilson, director of the University of Missouri SBTDC in Columbia, has taught many FastTrac courses over the years, including NewVenture.
"The thing I like about FastTrac NewVenture is that it really guides participants through examining the feasibility of starting a business," she says. "And not just for the short term; participants really examine the company from a long-term perspective.
"The other great thing about FastTrac NewVenture is that it takes participants through every stage of planning, starting with themselves and their skill set, their entrepreneurial traits — it's really thorough. It's a holistic process and doesn't just look at one aspect of business formation."
Wilson adds that all FastTrac courses give participants the opportunity to network and form the relationships essential for long-term success with other entrepreneurs and experts in their industry.
All participants receive a variety of resources such as an entrepreneurial manual, a business plan template or a financial projections template.
The top resource they receive, however, is the continued availability and expert advice of a MO SBTDC facilitator.
The FastTrac series was developed by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The Foundation also offers more specialized FastTrac courses for women and veteran entrepreneurs.
Visit missouribusiness.net/calendar for more information on the next FastTrac course near you.
This story was featured in the Nov. 2012 newsletter