Whatcom Community College, the Northwest Innovation Resource Center and Western Washington University’s Small Business Development Center are joining forces to launch an new entrepreneurship program at WCC.
The program, titled Launch and Build Your Business, will help locals start new ventures and develop their business ideas. The six-month course blends online instruction with live workshops and support services.
The series will provide participants a step-by-step foundation to build new enterprises and learn from local business owners and experts.
The organizers hope the program will foster a community of like-minded entrepreneurs. Classes begin in September.
“Whatcom is thrilled with this partnership and with the opportunity to host this new program,” said WCC president Kathi Hiyane-Brown, in a press release. “The community relies on WCC to provide quality instruction on the essential pieces of business start-up such as new ways of selling and marketing, bookkeeping and accounting and how to write and pitch a business plan. What’s new is that we are packaging these topics comprehensively and leveraging the expertise and wrap-around support provided by experts at NWIRC and SBDC.”
Organizers say clients’ ongoing requests for start-up business development support led to the idea.
“Some of the business people we’ve heard from have been successfully employed for years in other industries,” said SBDC director Jennifer Shelton. “They are looking for that extra information that will help them to make decisions and complete elements that are missing for a business launch, to explore accelerated concepts and to connect with experts and other entrepreneurs in the region for encouragement and inspiration.”
The online course content from Palo Alto Software is self-paced and will be augmented by monthly live seminars.
Online course topics will include business basics, market analysis and marketing strategy, basic financial considerations and getting financed, building a business team, utilizing the web, cash flow and taxes and planning and pitching a business concept.
Monthly seminars will tie-in course content with presentations by successful local business owners and business experts. Seminar topics will include tools for bootstrapping start-up businesses, successful ways to launch new products, how to structure a business, as well as related tax, finance and cash flow information.
The entire program costs $239. Starting in August, students may register at any time during the six-month period.
Registration, which will be available through WCC’s Continuing Education, includes the monthly workshops, access to Business Plan Pro’s LivePlan and three text books.
The monthly workshops will include roundtables and live interviews with successful entrepreneurs from our region.
“Hearing personal stories and lessons learned from people who have built a business from the ground floor is very helpful to entrepreneurs who are just starting out,” said NWIRC director Diane Kamionka. “Also, the roundtables will give participants the opportunity to ask questions of the NWIRC and SBDC staff experts as well as connect with other participants working through the start-up process.”
As the lead educational institution, Whatcom will host the course workshops the second Thursday of the month, from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 13. In addition to students who register on their own, the NWIRC and SBDC will refer clientele to the program and will provide ongoing support to help participants with their businesses during and after the program ends.
Pre-course information sessions will be held at WWU’s SBDC downtown Bellingham office, 115 Unity St., Suite 101, from noon to 1 p.m. on July 25 and from 4 to 5 p.m. on Aug. 22.