The SBDC at Georgia State University has helped hundreds of small
business owners become better managers.
An SBDC That Excels at Leadership Training
By Lou Dubois | @lou_dubois | Feb 22, 2011
Every business owner aspires to become a better leader. Under the
direction of area director Bernie Meineke, the SBDC housed at Georgia
State University in Atlanta has helped scores of entrepreneurs to hone
their skills as managers and as strategic thinkers.
As an affiliate of the Kauffman Foundation’s FastTrac GrowthVenture
program, Georgia State’s SBDC provides the CEOs of young companies
with 40 hours of training designed to help them develop effective
business growth strategies. Hundreds of area entrepreneurs have taken
part in the program since the center began to offer it in 1998.
Among the graduates is Prince Niyyar, the founder and CEO of Commdex,
No. 474 on the 2010 Inc. 5000 list. Revenue at the telecom company,
which is based in suburban Norcross, has increased by more than 600
percent between 2006 and 2009.
“What the FastTrac program did was really allow me to think like a
businessman,” says Niyyar, who has seen his initial investment of
$2,500 blossom into a company with $16.5 million in sales. “I had more
of a worker mentality before and my SBDC training made me think about
overall vision, how to think about sales and marketing, about
financial analysis, and about how to be a good leader. I learned the
importance of realizing my limitations, bringing on qualified
employees and listening to good advice.”
The program has been so successful that it has won awards and
attracted support, including financial sponsorship, from some of
Atlanta’s major corporations. And as a result of the center’s success,
the Georgia SBDC Network has adopted the FastTrac GrowthVenture
program as a statewide initiative.
The Georgia SBDC Network is among the strongest in the country.
According to an impact survey completed in April 2010, businesses in
the Peach State that worked with a local SBDC increased their sales by
an average of 3.5 percent, even as the average business based in
Georgia experienced a 1.5 percent decline in sales.
“Working with small but existing and growing businesses is at the core
of what we do,” says Meineke. “And to me, it’s making business owners
really good leaders that differentiates us.”
The Mentor: GSU SBDC Director Bernie Meineke’s has dedicated his time
to leadership training for young entrepreneurs.
Georgia State University Small Business Development Center
10 Park Place South, SE,
Atlanta, GA 30303
Name of director: Bernie Meineke
No. of employees: One Area Director and four consultants
No. of clients: 400
Hours spent with clients: 3,200
Capital infusion: $1.43 million
What’s noteworthy: Excellent leadership training is provided through
the award-winning Kauffman Foundation’s FastTrac GrowthVenture