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Greenville Business Magazine

Business Accelerator Focused On Economic Growth and Inclusion

Nov 30, 2017 09:54AM ● Published by Emily Stevenson

By Dr. Nika White

The Minority Business Accelerator (MBA) is a program of the Greenville Chamber’s Diversity & Inclusion initiative designed to advance economic inclusion. As one of the Greenville Chamber’s principal economic development initiatives, the MBA has been established to serve as a catalyst to drive a positive community economic impact, by increasing the overall capacity of locally-based high potential women and minority owned businesses. 

The MBA program prepares minority-owned businesses for growth and expansion to create a competitive advantage. The MBA program grows the economic success of disadvantaged organizations through business development services, mentoring, technical assistance and access to large corporations for partnership opportunities. The program is focused on reducing disparity in the region’s business community by driving economic activity for participating firms. This type of program can lead to a more viable and competitive business landscape, whereby emerging companies grow and create meaningful job opportunities. The MBA service model includes business assessments, development plans, robust curriculum with 13 half day leadership sessions, plus a kick off knowledge transfer, business information resources, executive coaching, exposure and access. 

Each milestone in the Greenville Chamber’s Minority Business Accelerator (MBA) Program is a big step. The first milestone that participants reached was completion of the curriculum portion, which came to a close at the end of July. Each participant was required to share their final Strategic Growth Action Plan presentations with their peers and business experts. The presentations included specific goals and action steps including what they learned, changes they made, and other information of relevance to their business growth plans. 

Two days of participants’ strategic growth plan presentations represented a mid-way point of the MBA program and incorporated many inspiring and celebratory moments. With confidence and professionalism, each participant delivered their presentation while those in the audience could hear their short-term and long-term growth goals, as well as lessons learned and applied. Business experts and participants’ coaches served as the presentation evaluators and based on their feedback they were deeply impressed by the quality of each presentation and the tools that the firms leveraged.  The energy and comradery in the room was indicative of everyone’s vision, enthusiasm, and expertise relative to his/her business. Each of the MBA participants are to be highly commended. 

Committed steadfastly to this program, MBA participants have completed fourteen sessions with five major modules covering business and strategy assessments, financials, marketing and sales, and resources; heard six live-case studies by using participants’ businesses as the subject, spent twelve hours of mentoring between CEO peers; and finished twenty-five out-of-class assignments. Not only are participants profoundly grateful for this program, instructor Toby Stansell, and CEO peers’ support and feedback to each other, but, they also communicated clear growth as a result of the program and changed their mindset to working on their business instead of in their business. In the second half of the MBA program year, each participant must implement his/her growth plan to advance their competitive advantage and capacity.  MBA program’s coaches continue to support them to achieve their goals and accomplishments aligned with their growth plan. The official end of program graduation will occur in December. 

Jeanette Houchens
President, HIT Services, LLC

“The MBA program has changed the way I look at my business. It has helped me understand how to manage the fears and challenges that I face as an entrepreneur. It has allowed me to look deep into my company´s processes, identify what I’m doing wrong so that I can fix it or improve it, and see the things that I’m doing right so that I can continue building on those. It has shown me how to apply what I’m learning to my business, but more importantly it has helped me grow as a person. Toby has not simply taught us the content of the program, he has inspired us to become better people, which will translate into being successful entrepreneurs.”

Anita Garrett
Chief Strategy Officer, The Weathers Group

“As a business owner, there are things that you have theoretically learned through professional development. There are things you are personally aware of as best practices. Yet it is a much deeper understanding that occurs when you are in a room with several of your peers who are opening and sharing similar challenges and experiences as entrepreneurs with a desire to take their success to the next level. I’ve participated in numerous business development trainings; however, the MBA program offered through the Greenville Chamber is hands down the most intensive, engaging, non-fluff, knock-down, drag-out, meaningfully useful series I’ve ever experienced! The platform. The process. The facilitators. All were top-notch. We are now reviewing our processes and streamlining operations like never before. The MBA program has given us tools to truly reassess our business and enhance our growth.”

James White, Jr.
Owner of JWE LLC

“JWE LLC is a company whose [remodeling] niche is in residential turnkey remodeling: we find undervalued homes in great neighborhoods and re-construct them 100 percent so that full home value is restored. The MBA Program has put a small company like JWE LLC in the room with large successful companies, that I would not have had access to if it were not for this program. I’ve gained several certifications, doubled my business growth and was afforded the opportunity to attend the MBE Executive Management Program offered by the University of Richmond through a scholarship awarded by Carolinas Virginia Minority Supplier Development Council (CVMSDC), a partner of the Greenville Chamber’s MBA.”

MBA Participant Takeaways

Kenzie Biggins, Worxbee 
“MBA helped me rebrand from Uniquely Virtual to Worxbee and increased 20 percent plus in sales volume compared to this time last year.”

William Wilson, SC Solar Energy
“The expertise around restructuring a business and how to engage in identifying multi-million-dollar contracts was invaluable.”

Tracy Ware, Primary Choice
“The importance of having systems in place to track history, as well as to forecast where to go next, was extremely helpful for my business.”

Shawn Jefferson, Karidan Logistics
“I now understand the value of process-oriented decision making.” 

Lindsey Holder, Organic Tan
“The instructor, Toby Stansell, and my peers helped me make changes necessary to increase membership and product sales.”

Simon McClain, M&T Technologies
“I recognize the significance of continuously conducting market research to keep pricing competitive with like providers in the market.”

Anita Garrett, The Weathers Group
“Great resources and reinforcement that performance improvement takes time and commitment.”

Robert Chandler, IG Global
Systems are needed to monitor what we’re doing and be consistent on processes and pricing.” 

Tammy Johnson, High Spirits Hospitality
“Based on lessons learned, I have restructured my entire organization to feed into High Spirits Hospitality, our parent company.” The MBA program has helped boost her confidence and remind her, “I’m not alone.”

Brenda Ligon, Precept Staffing Inc.
“Know your business financials.” 

James White, James White Enterprise
“Hire the right people for each vacant position.”

Jeannette Houchens, HIT Services
“Delegating is a key in transitioning from business owner to CEO.”

Dolores Watkins, Cornerstone Salon and Spa
“Transforming “vague” goals into “smart” goals, specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-based, is critical to business success.”                                                                                          
Sergio Burnside, Allstar Meat Co.
“Be fully knowledgeable about what is going on with your business. Take an in-depth look at yourself and your business to optimize every opportunity. The MBA program is allowing me to provide second chances to ex-offenders, the way someone gave me a second chance.” 

Jeff Alfonso, Alfonso Interpreting
“Keep a close eye on financials so that profit is always made despite fluctuations.”

To learn more, visit greenvillechamber.org
Economic Development, Enterprise

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