Master Business Bootcamp to Expand Across Iowa

Master Business Bootcamp targets minority populations but is open to any small business ownersSince 2015 the Master Business Bootcamp has helped more than 250 small businesses in the Des Moines area to survive and thrive. Now this coaching and mentorship program is ready to expand across the state, says Kameron Middlebrooks, minority business coordinator with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Middlebrooks has cofacilitated the program and coached business owners for two years, first as part of the Financial Empowerment Center at the Evelyn K. Davis Center for Working Families, where the program originated. He has continued working with the bootcamp since joining ISU Extension and Outreach’s Community and Economic Development unit in 2018.

Deidre DeJear, Financial Empowerment Center program manager, developed Master Business Bootcamp. It has been a proven mechanism in Polk County to ensure the success of small businesses in the urban core. She said it is imperative for supports such as the bootcamp to be developed and spread to ensure a safety net for small businesses to survive and thrive.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and account for 50% of our workforce. We have to ensure they are set up for success,” DeJear said.

Master Business Bootcamp is a six-week course that reinforces essential skills necessary to own, manage, grow and operate small businesses. The free program targets minority populations with low-to-moderate income; however, it is open to any small business owners.

To qualify for the bootcamp, participants must show that they have been operating their business for at least six consecutive months and have established clients who currently use their products or services.

Participants meet for a three-hour session, six weeks in a row. Each session has a specific learning objective as well as project outcomes. Middlebrooks coaches bootcamp participants as they develop their own business profile, including their vision, mission, objectives, slogan, values and a thorough description of their products and services.

Rod Bradley and Donna Wesley started Ruby B’s in 2018 and were referred to the Master Business Bootcamp in 2019. They said the workshops were designed to help small-business owners increase their profit margins and maximize business outcomes.

“I am glad I attended,” said Bradley. “The guest speakers were great. The content shared and discussed in the class created good dialogue.”

Participants also focus on developing a detailed budget for an event or a project directly related to their business, Middlebrooks explained. Through this process, they follow instructions from a CPA or accounting expert on how to categorize and label their business expenses in a spreadsheet. The overarching goal for clients is to increase their sales, identify funding opportunities and increase their accounting knowledge.

By the time they graduate from Master Business Bootcamp, participants will have completed a business profile, a return on investment schedule and an accounting template, Middlebrooks said. In addition, they will have filed their company with the Secretary of State and become a targeted small business member.

In conjunction with Master Business Bootcamp, participants also are required to meet with a personal finance coach to increase their knowledge in financial literacy, Middlebrooks said.

Catum Whitfield, who joined his family’s lawn-care business after graduating from college, participated in Master Business Bootcamp in 2017.

“The class taught me business essentials that are needed for organizations to thrive. Things such as marketing, legal structure, and having a clear vision are a few tools I was able to take from the class and implement into Whitfield’s Lawn and Garden,” Whitfield said. Since graduating from the class, Whitfield said his family’s business has expanded from six to 12 full-time employees and has doubled its revenue.

To learn how to develop a Master Business Bootcamp for your area in the state, contact Kameron Middlebrooks at 515-231-5055 or kameronm@iastate.edu. Middlebrooks also can share information about other small business development services from ISU Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development.

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