Fresno & Central California business owners recently had the opportunity to participate in a business enhancement course, called the“e200 program”. Amongst those in attendance were licensed funeral director, and co-owner of Sterling Smith Funeral Services, Ronald Smith. Introduced by the Small Business Administration (SBA) and modeled after the critically acclaimed ”Streetwise Steps” curriculum, the e200 was, according to Smith, “a condensed, fast paced, executive level program” which exposed people to…
the facets of business—human resources, marketing, finance, staffing, etc.
During the bi-weekly program, which commenced in April of 2011, the e200 introduced a strategic growth action plan (SGAP) designed to examine the obstacles of business growth. Such elements as location of growth, expenses of growth, seeking finance for growth, and the importance of post expansion staffing were all covered. Within staffing, considering such logistics as bilingual employees, customer service proficiency, and multi-faceted technological skill sets were also highlighted. According to Ronald Smith, the e200 was basically effective in “outlining a whole new business plan.”
As a man with a decade of business management & company development experience, a Bachelor’s Degree in Operations Management, a Master’s Degree in Business Administration, and a Doctorate of Education, Ronald Smith is indeed no stranger to the complexities of business. The attendance of e200, however, served as an affirmation to Smith that Sterling Smith Funeral Services made the right decision in extending their services, and locating to Tulare, which made it possible for them to accommodate the needs of families in the south Valley. Smith says that, “from a resource standpoint, [the e200] helped me to solidify a lot of things regarding my business plan.”
As the only African American business owner in attendance, Ronald Smith also acknowledged the importance of business owners from his community to maximize such expansion or development opportunities as the e200, whenever they arise. Smith feels that no-cost programs which contain such rich information could also provide invaluable networking prospects. Ronald had the opportunity to meet & encourage the expansion of a fellow business owner whose resources & plans of action were seemingly in place, yet hadn’t been executed. Smith’s message is that “you can’t be afraid to go out there & take risks… [Just] take ‘strategic risks’”. Some of Ronald’s basic strategies for expansion are to “keep numbers ultra conservative.” As one of many measures of financial security, Smith commonly “underestimates revenue & overestimates expansion costs.”
Smith also acknowledges the importance of working together. Upon meeting an aspiring owner of a pet crematorium, Smith proposed a possible business collaboration, which would benefit both entrepreneurs. Smith says “you start networking & meeting people with like minded ideas, and hey, we can do some business. But if you only stick to what you’re doing & what you know, you miss out on the real opportunities out there.”
Ronald Smith’s overall impression of the SBA’s e200 program was positive. In his own words, “I thought it was a great program; made some nice friends made some nice new contacts.”
A graduation ceremony for those who completed the e200 program is scheduled for November 15th 2012, at the Fresno Small Business Administration office, on 801 R Street. Visit sba.gov for more details…