Propel, the Region's First Innovative Small Business Mentor-Protege Program Launched on May 1

Propel, the Region's First Innovative Small Business Mentor-Protege Program Launched on May 1
Propel is an innovative small business mentor-protege program designed to provide existing small business owners with education and training through its seven-week entrepreneurial boot camp, as well as technical assistance provided by the SBDC and mentoring provided by area successful business owners.

Propel, the region’s first innovative small business mentor-protégé program, hosted by the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce and the Small Business Development Center of Hampton Roads (SBDC) has officially launched! Eleven protégés with diverse backgrounds gathered at the Hampton Roads Chamber’s office for their first monthly Protégé Roundup Meeting on May 1.

Zack Miller, Founder of Hatch, is the Facilitator for the Propel program.

“We had an exciting first morning, kick-off of Propel with 11 growing businesses in our region in 11 different industries. Over the next seven weeks, we will put them through a boot-camp and introduce them to regional mentors” said Miller. “I am excited to dig deeper into their companies so we can help them grow and become the backbone of our economy.”

The overarching goal of this program is to increase the strength and viability of businesses already in operation thus enabling them to expand and grow. Jim Carroll, the Chamber’s Vice President for Small Business and the Executive Director of the Small Business Development Center said, “The strategy for growing the firms is based on what is called the Propel 3Cs: Clarity, Clearance & Completion Model. Everything in this program is based on getting growth in one of these three arenas of business ownership.”

The seven-week entrepreneurial “boot camp” will consist of half-day classes utilizing the Strategic Management Learning System created by Dr. William Osgood. This system is endorsed by the SBA.

Module 1: Cash Flow Principles

Module 2: Forecasting

Module 3: Time Management

Module 4: Marketing

Module 5: Marketing Communications

Module 6: Strategic Analysis

Module 7: How to be a Good Protégé

During the monthly Protégé Roundup monthly meetings or one-on-one meetings with a coach, the protégés will be exposed to several other modules including:

  • Management Control
  • Target Marketing
  • Financing
  • Human Resources
  • Inventory Control
  • Credit & Collections
  • Knowledge Management Systems

At the completion of boot camp, protégés will be partnered with mentor and meet as a group with other class participants. The mentor will take them through the second phase of this structured program and they will receive technical assistance provided by the SBDC. Meeting monthly, the Mentor-Protégé relationship will last two years.

Unlike other programs that focus on a specific portion of the marketplace, such as technology or “second-stage” companies, PROPEL is designed to help start-ups grow into first-stage companies and for first-stage companies to advance to the second-stage. First stage firms are those that have less than $1 million in revenue and 1 to 9 employees’ second stage firms have at least 10 employees and $1 million in sales.

Clinton Baney, Owner of Spring a Life Chiropractic, LLC is a protégé in the Propel program. Baney said, “Friday's Propel meeting was very productive. We plugged our business model into the Business Model Canvas and then shared our goals for success. I'm excited to learn the nitty gritty of business and gain the knowledge needed to build a strong business on a strong foundation.”

Propel is substantially supported by the Hampton Roads Chapter of the Entrepreneur Organization, SunTrust Bank and the Retail Alliance. Funding support for this program is being provided through a Portable Assistance Grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration coupled with a donation from SunTrust Bank. 

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