Goldman Sachs Voices Unite

From June 9th through the 11th, the largest ever virtual gathering of U.S. small business owners will be happening on Capitol Hill. Over 2,100 business owners will advocate for policies to help their businesses succeed, an effort more crucial now with the current economic crisis caused by COVID-19. We’re all alumni of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. I graduated from the program in May of 2017 as part of the national cohort which took place at Babson College in Boston, Massachusetts. It was the most rigorous business training I've ever been a part of. We spent 2 weeks at the Executive Education Center at Babson College, the leading private entrepreneurial college in the country, and 10 weeks working and studying 16 to 20 hours a week, while we ran our businesses.

This diverse and inclusive program attracts business owners from all over the country in every sector and is funded by Goldman Sachs with the purpose of strengthening small businesses to become job creators providing economic opportunities for all.

Over the last decade, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses has served 9,700 small business owners across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington D.C. Boasting a 99% graduation rate, participating businesses show tremendous growth upon graduating, surpassing national averages. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, alumni collectively represented $12 billion in revenues and employed 175,000 people. 44% of alumni businesses are family-owned and 66% are minority and women-owned businesses.

As a team captain on Capitol Hill, I will be in charge of opening meetings and helping guide conversations with our legislators. Half of the Wisconsin team has been significantly affected by COVID-19. The other half is pivoting and making it work. Either way, we're all wading through the waters of uncertainty like never before.

When the Goldman Sachs Voices program invited us to participate, like many, I was in the throes of trying to figure all of this out. Though I work closely with organizations that lobby Congress, I realized I’d never actually done so myself, so I volunteered and was selected to be a team captain.

This well-organized initiative has participants attending programs on topics such as adapting to a new operating environment, preparing for a phased re-opening, and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on black communities. 

Some of what was originally on our agenda passed the legislature within the last week. However, there's still much more to be done but we're definitely on their radar as vital to the economy.

Small businesses continue to face tremendous challenges. Based on research that was conducted in May, small business owners anticipate that only 63% of revenues will return and 71% of customers will return. 

Still, we do tend to be a tenacious and resilient bunch. The Alumni have the added advantage of having gone through rigorous training within the last decade by the best thought leaders and professors in America. More than that–we have each other to encourage and support as well as our peers during this time.

I'll let you know how it goes on the other side. If you want to follow us, we're using the hashtag #makesmallbig!