The Community Loan Fund revises the Community Business Planning curriculum

When Nishaya 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 beyond just providing one-on-one financial coaching to helping businesses organize group workshops and offer financial programs for employees.

To continue inspiring growth in small businesses like Richardson’s, the Capital Region’s Community Loan Fund (CLF) has revamped its business planning curriculum, providing more interaction and guidance to Capital Region entrepreneurs on basic planning concepts and tools to succeed. The post-Covid economy.

“It empowered me to do everything I had to do in the beginning and not try to push it away because it seemed difficult,” said Richardson, owner of SesheBudgetGuru, a financial literacy coaching service.

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

Participants also receive downloadable class materials such as links to video lessons, handouts and slide decks to be used at any time in the future, accommodating the different paces of small business development.

The class is made up of nine sequential three-hour sessions covering topics such as business planning, legal formation, intellectual property, commercial real estate, market research, website development, cash flow projections and financial management.

Richardson said he found the most important sessions focused on business structure, such as exploring the differences between an LLC and an S corporation, as well as lessons on how to secure funding.

“I want to make sure that I set up my business plan and my records and everything that I need properly so I’m successful and I’m not trying to play for years since I could have done it right in the beginning,” she said.

In addition to CLF staff, local business experts—from bankers and brokers to past students and successful entrepreneurs—will also present virtual sessions. Participants can expect to participate in a variety of exercises such as participating in one-on-one mentorship meetings and building a business plan in class demonstrations.

“The purpose of the course is to walk people through the different aspects of owning and operating a business, so they focus more on the various logistics needed to be successful,” said Destiny Watkins, CLF manager of training and technical support.

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

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