My company, HealthEconomics.Com, was one of 37 small businesses chosen to participate in the inaugural 2015 ScaleUp North Florida initiative. ScaleUp North Florida has made, and is continuing to make, a significant contribution to my company success, and I’d like to share some of these developments with you.
HealthEconomics.Com has been in business for 7 years, and our organization experienced significant and consistent growth for the first 5 years. Our sixth year presented very new challenges associated with an increased need for operating resources, expanded staff, changing market dynamics, and movement of my role from a “doer” to a “leader”. We wanted to take our 7th year to another level. Yet, I – as the CEO – needed additional direction. Moreover, I needed to further expand my mentoring network to gain new perspectives to help deal with a different set of challenges. ScaleUp North Florida was the catalyst, and through this well-organized, year-long initiative of the U.S. Small Business Administration (which will continue through December 2015), I believe this program is making a positive difference.
ScaleUp North Florida provides a highly focused educational platform that addresses various issues that are common to organizations who are at a critical nexus of growth. ScaleUp exists for the specific purpose of assisting small businesses that are seeking to scale to the next level. No matter the type of company, there are numerous synergies that cross industries. The training areas provided in the first six months of the ScaleUp program address these common challenges and encompass both in-person workshops, followed by weekly conference calls on the following areas:
- Branding Strategy and Development;
- Strategic Planning;
- Financial Management;
- Human Resources Management; and
The instructors for these classes and conference calls were vetted individuals who came prepared to lead highly interactive workshops that included workbooks and case studies. The workshops and subsequent conference calls provide ample opportunity for business owners to ask questions, have time for personal introspection and to interact with peers. One of the main benefits of these interactive sessions include the shared experiences derived from a very varied peer group and instructors representing different backgrounds.
In addition, ScaleUp was efficient. As a small business owner in the midst of a growing company, I know that I need time to focus “on the business” and not constantly work “in the business”. On the other hand, I don’t have unlimited time for things that don’t improve my knowledge or capabilities or improve the ROI of the company. ScaleUp and the Program Director, Jennifer Marko, understand this, as do the instructors. Learn more about the ScaleUp North Florida Leadership team here.
Furthermore, I used ScaleUp to find gaps in my company’s strategy and product line, question my status quo and challenge my approaches. I made time to bring these learnings back to my staff; thus our entire company (7 employees) benefitted from the program, not just me. This not only improved employees’ commitment to the company, but engaged them in the future success of our organization that we all work for and care about. (By the way, I learned that last little tidbit about engaging employees in corporate strategy in the “Leadership” class!).
If you think ScaleUp may be something from which you and your company could benefit, I recommend you read more about the program, and start a conversation with your team and the ScaleUp staff about participating next year. I suspect it will be one of the better decisions you’ve made for your business – and for yourself.
Blog submission by Dr. Patti Peeples, CEO of HealthEconomics.Com and Principal Researcher, HE Institute – The Creativity Lab™.