NextStep offfers small business owners tools for successful growth

Small business owners receive instruction on best practices during a NextStep class.

Small business owners in the Heights are invited to apply to participate in NextStep: Strategies for Business Growth, a program of University Circle Inc., presented by KeyBank.

NextStep gives small business owners an opportunity to gain knowledge and experience through an award-winning curriculum that incorporates ready-to-apply tactics shared by fellow business owners and experts. Participants receive practical knowledge and implementation strategies on business development, finance and financial management, sales and marketing, human resources, access to new capital, and government and anchor-institution contracting. Using their own companies as in-depth case studies, business owners complete the program with a customized three-year strategic-growth action plan and new networks for business development.

NextStep graduate Brooks Jones is managing member of Grandview Place in Cleveland Heights, a business that provides furnished apartments for visitors to Cleveland Clinic and the University Circle area. With a rapidly expanding business, said Jones, “We couldn’t plan because we were operating minute-to-minute. After completing the NextStep program, we are on fire with our books and are generating very viable numbers. We’ve hired three key people, and we’ve been able to delegate about 50 percent of the activities we used to handle ourselves, leaving us to focus on the strategic."

Beginning in January 2016, NextStep will offer three-hour classes, every other week, lasting approximately seven months. Class size is limited to 15 participants, to enable individualized instruction and close collaboration among peers. To be eligible, applicants must have owned their business for at least three years, have annual sales of at least $250,000, and have at least one employee in addition to the owner.

University Circle Inc., which provides the NextStep program, is a service, development, and advocacy organization for University Circle—one of the fastest-growing employment districts in Northeast Ohio. University Circle Inc. is in a unique position to connect NextStep graduates with more than 40 nonprofit organizations in the education, medical and cultural sectors that may introduce them to new business opportunities.

Partial scholarships are available for business owners located in one of the Greater University Circle neighborhoods or who currently do business with University Circle organizations.

For more information and to access the application, visit

Lisa Sands

Lisa Sands is director of marketing for University Circle Inc.

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Volume 8, Issue 12, Posted 11:22 AM, 12.02.2015