For many entrepreneurs, launching a business is only the first step on the road to success. After taking the financial risk of going it alone, many of them struggle to expand and grow their companies, particularly because of a lack of access to capital.
That was the assessment from 15 Dallas/Fort Worth area graduates of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program during a round table discussion with Dr. Joe May, Dallas County Community College District chancellor; David Solomon, president and co-chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs; Mayor Mike Rawlings; and Javier Palomarez, president and CEO of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
10KSB is a nationwide initiative by the financial giant that teaches entrepreneurs how to grow their businesses. It is offered in partnership with DCCCD, which provides the education modules for the program.
May kicked off the discussion and said he worked to bring the program to Dallas after he saw its success in New Orleans while he was working in Louisiana.
“The 10,000 Small Businesses program partnership is really geared to unlocking the potential of small businesses not only here in Dallas but across the United States,” May said. “Each of these alumni has achieved a tremendous amount of success by participating in the 11 sessions of the program.”
The roundtable discussion took place at DHD Films, which was co-founded by Hussain Manjee, who graduated from the program two years ago. Manjee said much of his company’s success – it has been named one of the top small businesses in America – was due to the lessons he learned during the program.
“It challenged me to think and act differently,” Manjee said about the program. “It inspired us to think big and stand out from the competition.”
Manjee said his company went from $1 million in sales before the program to $7 million since he graduated, and he doubled the number of his employees.
Robert Ozarow, owner of Empire Baking Company, said that in addition to obtaining a $2.7 million business loan after he graduated, the program taught him how to organize his business to become more efficient.
“What this program taught me is that we needed to formalize things,” said Ozarow. “We needed to formalize operations. We needed procedures. We needed manuals. We needed things that were going to transcend you – walking around and telling people what to do, supervising.”
Solomon said he has been impressed by program participants across the country because of their determination to succeed.
“Some of the best days I’ve had as a business person are the days I’ve spent talking to people who have gone through the program,” Solomon told the alumni. “Your participation in this program means you’re all innovators. You’re ready to take on risks. You’re ready to challenge convention.”
During one of the modules, participants learn how to access loans and capital that may not be available to them through traditional channels.
Palomarez said financing is one of the critical issues that he sees nationwide.
“We work with tons of small businesses and, universally, the number one challenge they face is access to capital,” Palomarez said.
Quincy Roberts, president of Roberts Trucking, said he struggled to get a line of credit on his own, but he was able to secure $1.5 million in credit and financing after he learned how to prepare his financial paperwork.
“I did not understand that at all before the program,” Roberts said. “It was through the finance module that I really gained an understanding of our financials and how to talk to bankers.”
Roberts said his company grew from $7 million in annual sales before he graduated from the program in December 2014 to more than $10 million since then, and it went from 50 employees to more than 300.
Cristina Lynch, who founded Mi Golondrina, a company that sells high-end accessories which are handmade by artisans in Mexico, said her revenues have doubled to $3 million since she graduated, and she increased her payroll from 10 employees to 17.
“The 10,000 Small Businesses program gave me the confidence I needed to make strong hires, including the creation of new positions,” Lynch said.