The Small Business Development Center of Hampton Roads (SBDC) kicked off the spring session of the Hampton Roads Retail Academy on April 9. The vision of the SBDC and the Academy is to strengthen the region’s retail community by developing knowledgeable, innovative-thinking and dynamic entrepreneurs. The academy meets weekly and concludes on June 25.
This year, there are four new instructors, who are either currently or previously a part of the business community in Hampton Roads, and have formal education. The classes: Strategic and Business Planning, Marketing and Merchandising, Customer Service, Legal, Finance, and Security, are only one component of the school. There are also peer-to-peer breakfast meetings allowing ideas to be shared with one another. The one-on-one entrepreneurial coaching is the final leg of the journey.
Jack Leach, Business Analyst with the SBDC, led the first session on April 9. He explained the four deadly sins: lack of knowledge, lack of time, lack of money and lack of a plan. He stated, “You should always be able to clearly explain the following about your company within seconds: who you are, what you do, why you are different, and why they should care.” Leach explained the building blocks for a financial plan and encouraged the students to think about problems they might encounter. He even gave them a small homework assignment to allow them to reflect and bring written ideas to the next class.
Drenna Love, President/CEO of Legacy School Apparel, is looking forward to all she will accomplish in the next few months. She said, “When I complete the class in June, I expect to walk away with a new strategic business plan which includes the financial and marketing piece as well. I also plan on starting a coaching relationship with Jack and Ben to make sure Legacy School Apparel will be around for at least another 10 to 15 years!”
Gregory Medina of Mundo Language Services, saw a flyer for the Academy and knew he had to sign up. He explained, “I'm a sole proprietor, but after speaking to Ben I knew this would be extremely beneficial for Mundo Language Services. The topics that we will cover are on point and I am quite sure this will give me the competitive edge that I am seeking at this time!”
Ben Salomonsky, L.L.C., Director of the Hampton Roads Retail Academy, is optimistic about the outcome of this course. The inaugural session held in 2013, was a resounding success, both in terms of attendance, as well as the lively interactions between the teachers and the students. He stated, “I would like the students to learn that small business is more than having a key to the front door, a bank loan, and a lease. It is the amalgam of art, science, psychology, emotional intelligence, math, product/service knowledge, drama, and enthusiasm. I want them to also take away that small business is situation-specific to their various region, the backbone of the American economy, and the realization of their individual dreams!”