Papercut Is Leveling UpJust for Fun
Chattanooga is a great place for businesses. There are so many resources and mentors to aid entrepreneurs in building their companies. Much is aimed at the startup community, though. It's pretty easy to find the help you need to get your idea out of your head and into the world. But what about companies, like Papercut Interactive, that have proven to be successful and are ready to grow further? That's where NextLevel Chattanooga comes into play.
What Is NextLevel Chattanooga?
The Urban League of Chattanooga introduced NextLevel Chattanooga this year. The program is aimed toward established companies that are ready to take their business to the... well, to the next level. The eligibility requirements are that the business must have between $250,000 and $10 million in annual revenue, at least one full-time employee (other than the owner), and have been in business more than three years. Many applied and, along with 14 other local businesses, Papercut Interactive was chosen to participate in the program’s inaugural class.
The seven-month course utilized the StreetWise MBA™ curriculum, which was developed by a group out of Boston called Interise. The course's final outcome is a "Three Year Growth Plan" which is to be presented in front of a panel of local community leaders. Our classes were held every two weeks with outside "CEO Group" meetings as well. The program was broken into modules with several sessions each, during which we discussed strategy, financials, human resources, and finding capital. Our growth plans were added to and refined from module to module.
I have never been in love with accounting. It's always been a necessary part of doing business, but not one that I've enjoyed. Surprisingly, I found the module on financials the most compelling. It's important to know your numbers, and we heard repeatedly that a small business that can speak intelligently about their balance sheet is a cut above the rest. My newfound knowledge caused me to drive our accountants slightly crazy.
One of the key pieces of the program is the understanding of SMART goals. In order to grow, you need to set goals with items that are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Time-based. This is a great filter to help break the big idea into smaller, manageable chunks. It is also a way to keep yourself accountable and to track your progress. As I developed my growth plan, I ran my action items through the SMART goal test often. I have a tendency to be a big idea dreamer, and keeping things SMART is a perfect way to help me stay realistic but also make sure that I can keep up the momentum.
Wrapping it Up
Now, my growth plan is complete and has been presented. It will be a fantastic tool for me to use internally to reach our goals over the next three years. The NextLevel classes were great and I looked forward to each session. Most of all, though, I'm excited to have made new friends in the Chattanooga business community. I'm sure that we will continue to meet up in the future. It's too rich of a resource not to use.
And after three years, what then? We come up with new goals to meet! Maybe there will be a Next NextLevel Chattanooga by then.