Michael Crane of CIE's Small Business Development Program
CIE’s Small Business Development Program: It’s not enough to have a great idea…
5/31/2010The Small Business Development Program (SBDP) is a partnership of CIE’s Professional Development Center (PDC) and the City of Austin. The SBDP offers expert, cost-effective training to Austin area small businesses. Instructors are selected by PDC from a pool of volunteers from the Austin business community eager to share their experiences and advice with new business owners. We spoke with SBDP instructor Michael Crane about the benefits of the program and its impact.
Michael has been an adjunct faculty member in the Real Estate Department at Austin Community College since the mid-90s and a small business owner since the mid-70s. He draws upon his entrepreneurial and educational experiences to teach Business Plan Writing, Marketing and Financing for SBDP.
What does the program do?
“We provide low-cost, expert training to new and existing small businesses. We develop and empower owners to strengthen their business capacity and survivability. They are taught to objectively analyze their business ideas and develop a strategic business plan that accounts for needs such as securing financing, human resources and marketing.”
How did you become involved in the program?
“SBDP is a labor of love for me. I have always been intrigued with small businesses. My father owned his own business and through his influence I felt motivated at an early age to make a career of it myself. I have owned several businesses in Austin over 35 years. Although my efforts were successful, I did not formally learn the fundamentals of operating a small business when I started out—this put a lot more grey hairs on my head than I needed! As I gained experience, I realized the importance of sound business principles and practices and I wanted to share these insights to help others successfully compete in their own businesses. SBDP gives me and other successful entrepreneurs the opportunity to pass on what we know to benefit others.”
What has been the impact of the program?
“Since its inception, over 2,000 students have completed SBDP classes. The diversity of businesses that have benefitted from the program is considerable--upscale furniture consigners, hair salons, exterminators, gymnasiums, fine dining restaurants, and many more. As we further develop the program, its projected impact will be enormous. We are now offering a Small Business Success Skills Certificate program consisting of six core courses. For less than $200 and about 20 hours of their time, owners can develop a foundation in essential skills for growing their businesses.”
What do SBDP students learn?
“All of the program’s instructors are active business owners with considerable first-hand experience in the areas we teach. We focus on the importance of establishing the proper structure for a small business. Without structure, the odds of success diminish. Owners can get so wrapped up in the day-to-day operations that they miss changes and opportunities in the market. Missing out on these things can stifle their ability to succeed. We draw upon our experiences to illustrate the importance of sound business practices and principals and their application.”