Entrepreneurs grown their companies with Goldman Sachs 10,000 small business program

Stacy M. Brown | 11/1/2016, 6 a.m.
A growing number of Atlanta businesses are living up to the city’s famous nickname: Hotlanta!

— A growing number of Atlanta businesses are living up to the city’s famous nickname: Hotlanta!

More than 20 businesses have entered, thrived and graduated from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business program, a scholarship-based course that convenes them to learn critical business skills and create growth plans for their companies.

The Goldman Sachs program is an investment to help entrepreneurs create jobs and economic opportunity by providing greater access to education, capital and business support services.

With 31 sites across the United States and United Kingdom, 10,000 Small Businesses has served over 7,100 small business owners. The program has reached businesses from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C., and has resulted in immediate and sustained business growth for the alumni of the program.

One of those successful businesses is Atlanta’s own Yardstick Learning, which also has locations in Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Illinois, Texas, Colorado and California.

Yardstick Learning is owned and operated by Ebbie Parsons, who has joined thousands of entrepreneurs across the country in an initiative to create jobs.

“Our revenue has grown by 56 percent since participating in the Goldman Sachs program,” Parsons said. “Our total employees, including consultants and contractors, grew 109 percent. We have tremendously benefited from the program.”

Further, Parsons said he never imagined the program having such a positive influence.

“Frankly, that’s all I could do at first was imagine. We’re dreamers but seeing any of this come to fruition is just unbelievable, beyond exciting because you’re creating an opportunity for yourself and your team and you’re helping others and doing good work by helping our clients solve real issues in their respective communities,” he said.

Yardstick Learning is considered a leading global strategic management consultant firm that provides strategy and change management services to mission-driven organizations.

“Our clients include, on the education side, K-12 school districts, charter school management, parochial schools, private schools, colleges and universities,” Parsons said.

“On the corporation side, we work with several Fortune 500 companies on their social responsibility foundation and we work with international nonprofits,” he said.

Parsons’ story isn’t unique.

The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses curriculum is designed by Babson College, the leading business school for entrepreneurship. Just six months after their graduation, 68.7 percent of all alumni see revenue growth.

Also, 47.9 percent of the alumni create new jobs within that same timeframe.

As a comparison, 23 percent of U.S. Small Businesses added new jobs in 2015.

For Parsons, the program was a key step to understanding growth opportunities for his business.

“What was interesting for us, and me is that the program helped me to understand that we can’t solve every problem and that was difficult for me,” Parsons said.

“I am an African-American business man and an alum of the nation’s largest HBCU and our goal was to expand our services to work with so many more HBCUs and help them with any challenge they may have,” he said.

“One of the things I learned the hard way is that we have to connect with clients who can afford our services. As a small business owner, there are some challenges that you can’t fix at the time. I had to realize that you just can’t tackle every issue,” Parsons said.