For a small business, running and keeping up with the day-to-day is an undertaking on its own. It can be difficult to take a step back and think about how to accelerate business growth and develop strategic work plans, key milestones and deliverables. And, it’s another challenge to even know how to best position and lead the company to sustain growth.
In 2014, Mike Bloomberg joined Warren Buffet, Dr. Michael Porter and Goldman Sachs CEO, Lloyd Blankfein as Co-Chairs of the Advisory Council for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. The initiative helps small businesses in the U.S. and UK to create jobs and economic opportunity by providing entrepreneurs greater access to education, financial capital and business support services.
Since then, Bloomberg L.P. has teamed up with Goldman Sachs to host coaching sessions in the UK and U.S. for alumni in the 10,000 Small Businesses program.
At this year’s UK event, Bloomberg TV’s editor at large Francine Lacqua moderated a panel discussion with Blankfein, Bloomberg and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program alum, Karen Lynch, CEO of ethical water company Belu.
The panel emphasized the importance of small businesses for their roles in innovation, job creation and advancing economic development, with Blankfein saying small businesses are the “backbone of the country.”
Bloomberg recounted his journey building up Bloomberg L.P. from a small business of four people to the global financial services and technology company of nearly 19,000 employees it is today.
“When we started out, we kept focusing,” said Bloomberg. “We believed that we should be building products that customers are going to need, not what the customers are necessarily asking for today.”
He advised the small business owners, “If you are building things that people are asking for today, by the time you deliver it, they would have moved on without you. You’ve got to anticipate the world.”
As a business expands, so does the number of employees and the importance of these individuals’ roles. Blankfein urged the entrepreneurs to create a collaborative environment where employees are not subordinates but partners.
In addition, these Goldman Sachs and Bloomberg L.P. co-hosted events provides employees at both companies the opportunity to volunteer as coaches to help small businesses owners with their organizational needs and challenges.
With the program’s UK graduates growing on average 13 times faster than other UK small businesses, their challenges ranged from talent development to digital marketing to business development strategy and financial modelling.
Through an afternoon-long session, 46 Goldman Sachs and Bloomberg L.P. volunteers applied the skills they use in their jobs every day to help solve unique issues for 11 UK high-growth small businesses. By the end of the day, they created tailored strategies and practical steps that could be immediately implemented within each business.
Susanna Lawson, attended the coaching session in 2015, explained, “It was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had, personally and professionally. To have a senior Bloomberg and Goldman Sachs team give up their time and share their expertise to help me strengthen my small business was just inspiring. They made me feel that I was not alone despite the huge size differences between our organizations.”
The small business owners leave these coaching sessions feeling supported by a group of industry professionals and with tangible action items. Some even continue to work with their team on an ongoing basis as a sounding board to challenge themselves, their thinking and ways of working.
As Bloomberg L.P. has grown from a small business, we’ve been able to dedicate more and more resources back to our communities. Watch why philanthropy and engagement is so important to us.
For more information about the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, please visit their website, here.