Carolyn Dempsey-Arcuri has operated her own event business—Port Chester, N.Y.-based Carolyn Dempsey Design--for 11 years, but she has worked to up her game by participating in the Goldman Sachs "10,000 Small Businesses" initiative. The program takes small-business owners through courses in accounting, marketing, human resources and other management essentials, along with providing one-on-one mentoring and pro bono legal advice from Goldman Sachs professionals. The goal: To help small businesses grow, create jobs and build more prosperous neighborhoods.
The first "10kSB" class graduated in September 2010; more than half of them report double-digit year-over-year revenue growth, and more than 75 percent say they have hired new staff.
Here, Dempsey-Arcuri shares her experiences:
Special Events: How did you find out about the Goldman Sachs program?
Dempsey-Arcuri: My mother, who is an insatiable reader, found an article in the New York Times, cut it out and sent it to me with a note saying, “You should apply to this, they are helping small businesses achieve their goals! Love, Mom." So I did just that. I applied, was called in for an interview and was accepted into “Cohort IV” being taught at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, N.Y.
Q: Is it like getting an MBA?
A: It is not an actual MBA but it is likened to a crash course over three months where you are challenged to map a course for business growth and the development of the CEO mindset. As a “creative” in the special events world, I never truly considered myself to be a CEO.
The program has focused me and helped me to develop a growth plan over the next year, three years and five years, expanding to 10 years. It is an incredible roadmap that I have developed for my company; it has reinvigorated me through this country’s economic downturn as well as my staff. We all are excited about our personal growth as well as our company’s growth. It is a journey full of opportunities as I now have an even greater network of resources and endless possibilities!
Q: Did you have to fit the program into your day along with everything else, or did you scale back your business to do this?
A: OK, don’t be discouraged, but it is an 11-session course taught over a three-month period. My cohort sessions took place on Fridays and Saturdays; every cohort is different. Yes, I said Saturday. I almost choked when they told me that--you would think it was the kiss of death for someone in the event world. But I viewed it as an opportunity to better educate myself, grow my company and inspire my employees at a time in our economy where we all need a little help refocusing our energy.
Q: What did you get out of it in the end?
A: A journey full of opportunities, a fresh reinvigorated new perspective, a great network of resources--mentors, business advisers, a growth group alliance, 10kSB alumni--and a living, breathing document called a growth plan.