T.H.R.I.V.E. is like getting a mini-MBA, for free.
“I found it an opportunity to learn and grow and think about our business differently.” That’s what David Benowitz has observed about his participation in the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) T.H.R.I.V.E Emerging Leaders program in 2014.
T.H.R.I.V.E., which stands for train, hope, rise, innovate, venture and elevate, is “an executive-level training series designed to accelerate the growth of high-potential small businesses across the United States.” The SBA’s district office in Minneapolis is accepting applications through the end of May for the free (yes, you read that right!) program that will run from July 5-December 31, 2022. Specific eligibility requirements and the application can be found on the SBA’s web site.
If Benowitz’ experience is any indication, the program could be just the booster shot your business might need right now.
David had joined his father in his bar business ten years earlier, in 2004, leaving a corporate marketing career to help transition one of their locations from bar to a bar and restaurant. He’d always been interested in the hotel business, but he didn’t really know anything about food service. He committed to helping out for the summer, and he never left.
He says they made a lot of mistakes but he has always made it his goal to surround himself with the right people that would help get them to the next level. Now, nearly twenty years later, Craft & Crew owns and operations 6 establishments, and Benowitz gives a lot of credit for their growth to his participation in T.H.R.I.V.E.
It offered David another way to surround himself with the right people at a key moment for Craft & Crew. In 2014, they were just embarking on a project to turn a long-time community watering hole in downtown Hopkins – the Hopkins Tavern – into the bar and grill that is now Pub 819. They were among the first businesses that have fueled a revitalization of the downtown business district. The project was the focal point of what he now refers to his “mini-MBA” experience in SBA’s program.
Each year, a cohort spends 5 hours together one night a week for 12 weeks. Working in both the large group and as part of 2-3 person teams, small business owners are guided and supported as they work on their businesses. They come into the program with the outline of their idea, and apply what they learn about finance, operations, construction and property management, marketing, human resources and more to build out their execution plan. Participants must have been operating for a minimum of three years, but many are like David. They have a decade or more under their belts and they are looking for an opportunity to take their businesses to the next level.
Benowitz was paired with two other restaurant owners and describes the experience of having them to talk to about the issues and bounce ideas off of as “amazing.” Without them, he says, Craft & Crew would not be nearly as far along as they’ve gotten. They’ve opened 4 more locations since he completed the program, employing hundreds of people and gaining a reputation as a great company to work for. He maintains a strong relationship with his small group partners, and they’ve gone on to develop the Twin Cities Restaurant Leadership group to keep and grow their beneficial exchanges.
To anyone who might be participating, David has this to offer: “T.H.R.I.V.E. was a program that delivered 10s of 1000s of dollars in value to me as a leader and to our business. To reap the full benefits, you have to make up your mind that you will set aside the time. If you don’t, it won’t be worth it. You have to be willing to see it through and, if you do, you’ll be rewarded with amazing resources and connections to others tackling similar business problems.”
Interested? Apply for the upcoming T.H.R.I.V.E. cohort by May 31.