My “Pandemic” Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Scholar Experience

As a founder & CEO of my own small business, I recently graduated from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, with thirty-two other small business owners from around Iowa. We were the third cohort in Iowa to graduate from this “mini-MBA” as I’ve been calling it.

This three month program included a 100-hour curriculum that was graciously and generously hosted by the Des Moines Area Community College, DMACC, Ankeny Campus. The classes were provided online and in-person and covered a comprehensive range of topics pertinent to small business owners, including financial projections, sales and marketing, growth opportunities, strategies, and more.

With the global coronavirus pandemic settling into American everyday life in the middle of our coursework, our cohort was in a unique position. Not only did the program providers step up to make sure our experience was spectacular and meaningful, but our group itself really rallied. It was a blessing, in many ways, to face this together. For example:

Meeting logistics had to change

We enjoyed the opportunity to meet together monthly at DMACC, but that all came to a halt when gatherings were no longer authorized. The the local team and national course providers pivoted fast to maintain the same level of engagement and interaction.

We walked (and are walking) through the crisis together

Crises have a way of bringing people together. We see this all the time. But when you’re facing something so globally and financially unprecedented as this pandemic, there was something empowering, and reassuring, about going through the coursework, hearing from leadership, and making decisions together, as an empathetic cohort.

Professional connections were beacons of information in an uncertain time

We had amazing access to political leaders and decision makers. Hearing from them as we walked uncharted waters in business was inspiring and grounding. They were also timely with information about grants, loans, and other resources.

Final project was pivoted to focus on sustainability and on-going growth throughout and after the current financial crisis

One of the biggest strengths of this program is that each of us focus our work and final project on the case study of our own businesses. That keeps things hyper-focused on our unique needs. As for so many, this pandemic threw a wrench in our current projections and plans. But the Goldman Sachs and DMACC teams pivoted quickly and helped us focus on how to ride this turbulent and come out stronger. That ability to adapt the focus really strengthened the relevancy of the program.

The Goldman Sachs 10K Small Business Scholars program is outstanding in “normal” times — and a real support structure in “odd” times like the 2020 pandemic. The relationships and the resources, presented in a locally focused and globally aware manner, are priceless.

I highly recommend this program to any small business owner who may feel strong in some areas, but lacking in others, or who just want to holistically strengthen the outlook of their business. You can learn more or apply at The next cohort application deadline is June 26th. 

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