Helping small business owners power up

By Rhonda Lipschutz

An initiative at Community College of Philadelphia helps business owners develop and grow their businesses.

After two years of owning and operating restaurant Star Fusion, Darlene Jones was ready to take a step towards her long-term goal of franchising her business. Her plan? Scale the company by increasing the sales of spring rolls. Thankfully, Philadelphia had someplace where she could learn how to increase her sales, free of charge.

Power Up Your Business is an initiative at Community College of Philadelphia that helps small businesses manage their companies and plan for growth. Power Up Your Business takes a neighborhood-based approach to business development by matching small business owners with instructors and coaches. While in the program, participants learn about core business management, planning and marketing concepts in addition to receiving the guidance to implement them. The program also includes a Store Owner Series that includes three-hour workshops which offer information on financial planning, personal and business credit, and local marketing advice.

Upon completing the Peer Learning program, which consisted of a 10-week series of classes offered at the college’s West Regional Center, Jones implemented a social media strategy that has increased her daily spring roll orders from 37 to 97.

“I learned a lot from the instructors and coaches [about] how to really apply the right marketing tools to my business,” Jones said.

She was one of 15 owners from 14 businesses graduating last month, which brought the total Peer-Learning program participants to 55 since the program was launched in January 2017. Additionally, more than 300 small business owners have attended the Store Owner Series workshops at all four college locations.

Charles Champion, Jr., D.D.S., owner of Champion Dentistry, learned “new strategies and different methodologies that I was able to apply to my business in order to continue growing and help with the development of my business.”

Before the graduates received their certificates from the Power Up Your Business program, they each presented a tactical improvement plan and received feedback from their peers, coaches and instructors. Part of Champion’s tactical plan was to increase new patient clientele through the use of digital strategies, including an upgrade to their website and better utilizing social media channels.

Jamel Workman, owner of barber shop Contenders, has been in business for eight years. Workman enrolled in the Power Up Your Business program to learn techniques for marketing and for managing his company finances. His long-term goal is to open his own barber school in the city.

“I know how to cut hair, but Power Up Your Business really gave me the financial structure I needed to run my business,” Workman said.

Does your college have programs to help small businesses? Sound off on LinkedIn.

Rhonda Lipschutz

is a marketing and public relations specialist at Community College of Philadelphia.