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Community College of Philadelphia Helps Small Business Owners Power Up

Star Fusion prides itself on being “a diverse restaurant just like the city we serve.” An American, Asian and Caribbean restaurant located in West Philadelphia, the restaurant is known for its signature specialty wings and spring roll bar, and its seafood macaroni and cheese.

After two years of owning and operating the restaurant, Darlene Jones was ready to take a step towards her long-term goal of franchising her business. Her plan? Scale the company by increasing the sales of spring rolls. Thankfully, Philadelphia had someplace where she could learn how to increase her sales…free of charge.

Power Up Your Business is an initiative at Community College of Philadelphia that helps small businesses manage their companies and plan for growth. Power Up Your Business takes a neighborhood-based approach to business development by matching small business owners with instructors and coaches. While in the program , participants learn about core business management, planning and marketing concepts in addition to receiving the guidance to implement them. The program also includes a Store Owner Series that includes three-hour workshops which offer information on financial planning, personal and business credit, and local marketing advice.

Upon completing the Peer Learning program, which consisted of a 10-week series of classes offered at the College’s West Regional Center, Jones implemented a social media strategy that has increased her daily spring roll orders from 37 to 97. “I learned a lot from the instructors and coaches [about] how to really apply the right marketing tools to my business,” said Jones.

She was one of 15 owners from 14 businesses graduating last month, which brought the total Peer-Learning program participants to 55 since the program was launched in January 2017. Additionally, more than 300 small business owners have attended the Store Owner Series workshops at all four College locations.

“Power Up Your Business was refreshing,” said Dr. Charles Champion, Jr., D.D.S., owner of Champion Dentistry in the Overbrook section of the city and the graduating class’ speaker. “I learned new strategies and different methodologies that I was able to apply to my business in order to continue growing and help with the development of my business.”

Before the graduates received their certificates from the Power Up Your Business program, they each presented a tactical improvement plan and received feedback from their peers, coaches and instructors. Part of Dr. Champion’s tactical plan was to increase new patient clientele through the use of digital strategies, including an upgrade to their web site and better utilizing social media channels.

In addition to the presentations, City Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr. delivered keynote remarks to graduates; he discovered that he had been inside a number of establishments represented in the room, as a customer. In fact, Dr. Champion is the councilman’s dentist. “It’s exciting to be here tonight and I’m so overwhelmed to see so many faces from the community that I know. All these businesses are helping their communities and I’m impressed how great the Power Up Your Business program is,” said Councilman Jones, a noted expert on community-based economic development.

Jamel Workman, owner of Contenders, a barber shop on 5415 Market Street has been in business for eight years. Workman enrolled in the Power Up Your Business program to learn techniques for marketing and for managing his company finances. “I know how to cut hair, but Power Up Your Business really gave me the financial structure I needed to run my business,” he said.

Workman’s long-term goal is to open his own barber school in the city. He said barber schools are limited in Philadelphia and he wants to help make the opportunity of acquiring a barber license more accessible to the community.

Interested in Powering Up your business? The workshops below are underway and open for enrollment.

The Peer-based Learning Experience – A 10-week, 30-hour course in basic small business management and planning that delves into the fundamental concepts, tools and skills required for planning and running a successful business. Practical skills such as entrepreneurial leadership, understanding financial statements, the role of finance in business growth and creating effective improvement plans are included, plus support from a business coach. To qualify, participants must be located in Philadelphia, be in business for one year, and earn less than $1 million in annual revenues. See the upcoming schedule.

The Store Owner Series – Workshops that cover small business basics such as marketing, capital and credit, and bookkeeping. This series also introduces business owners to the College’s programs that support running a business efficiently, from QuickBooks to ServSafe to Business Communication. The next series begins Jan. 23, 2018 at the Northwest Regional Center located at 1300 West Godfrey Avenue. Register online.