The Community Loan Fund renews the Community Business Planning Course

When Nishaea Richardson signed up for a community business course, she lacked a comprehensive plan and was still using her personal bank account for business expenses.

At the end of the course, her business was a registered LLC with a clear vision for the future, expanding from providing one-to-one financial coaching to organizing group seminars and helping businesses deliver of financial programs for employees.

To continue inspiring growth in small businesses like Richardson’s, the Capital Region Community Loan Fund (CLF) has revamped the Business Planning Course, offering more interaction and mentoring to equip entrepreneurs across the Capital Region with the concepts and basic planning tools to succeed in a post-COVID economy.

“It empowered me enough to do everything I should have done in the beginning and not try to put it off because it seems difficult,” said Richardson, owner of Shesthebudgetguru, a financial literacy training service.

The nine-week business course is offered virtually via Zoom and will run on Saturdays from September 17 to November 12 from 9am to noon. Tuition for the course is $275 and includes access to the fund’s Eduprenuer platform, which offers customizable online training courses in partnership with JPMorgan Chase.

Participants also receive downloadable classroom materials, such as links to video lessons, handouts, and slide decks to be used anytime in the future, adapting to the different paces of small business development.

The class consists of nine consecutive three-hour sessions covering topics including business planning, legal formation, intellectual property, commercial real estate, market research, website development, cash flow projections and financial management.

Richardson said the sessions she valued most were those focused on business structure, such as exploring the differences between an LLC and an S corporation, as well as learning how to secure financing.

“I wanted to make sure I had everything in place in terms of my business plan, my data and everything I needed so that I could be successful and not trying to play catch up years from now when i could have done it right in the beginning. ” she said.

In addition to CLF staff, the virtual sessions will also feature local business experts – from bankers and brokers to past students and successful entrepreneurs. Participants can expect to take part in a variety of exercises such as attending one-on-one mentoring meetings and building a business plan in class demonstrations.

“The course is meant to walk people through the different aspects of owning and operating a business, focusing more on the different logistics they need to be successful,” said Destiny Watkins, manager of training and technical assistance in CLF.

Watkins emphasized that another core concept the course will navigate is social media strategy — an invaluable tool that has become even more critical to marketing because of the pandemic.

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