Think Bigger - Business Empowerment Initiative


The VGA is launching a business empowerment initiative we like to call, Think Bigger. The initiative combines a series of bootcamp-style entrepreneurial training courses with social media marketing workshops, and is designed to promote entrepreneurial thinking by providing a wealth of business and marketing resources and training to local entrepreneurs and existing small businesseses.

UpStart, (entrepreneurial training), is offered in partnership with the Longwood Small Business Development Center and Longwood University. With both face-to-face and online components, the series will be designed for students to be able to learn most of the subject matter interactively and online, prior to class time, so that the face-to-face and live experiences will focus on hands-on application with real world experts.

A distinguishing element of the UpStart experience is that you will not find an instructor talking at the students for hours on end.  The students learn interactively using the best content from around the world and apply it with professional experts and peers locally, in real time, with the ultimate goal of providing a rich and rewarding experience that is meaningful for all, where everyone learns together via questioning, applying, failing forward and succeeding.

The class builds community and cohesion, creating an environment to promote higher order thinking and hands-on application; all of this takes the exploration of good ideas of each participant and brings them to a place where they can create great ideas that solve migraine-level problems in the world in which there is a proven market.

Participants will create and test assumptions with real potential customers in a structured way that allows them to track their progress, as they work together with experts to develop a meaningful business model.

The Think Bigger initiative includes a series of free social media workshops coined, GrowSocial. The GrowSocial series is offered in partnership with Glerin Business Resources. There's more to come on these and other initiatives!


What: UpStart – a 6 week “bootcamp” style course for new business owners. The course includes 4 course meetings in person at a convenient central location, and 2 online sessions. UpStart includes conveniently accessible resources and subject matter experts to help guide you through testing and refining your business idea. Participants who complete all sessions and assignments will leave the course with a business model and an action plan for business development.

Who: Future entrepreneurs who are serious about evaluating a new business opportunity. The SBDC will provide you with an online assessment to help you determine if you are ready.

Where: In-person courses will be held at a location that includes computer and internet access and that is convenient to the cohort.

Why: Southern Virginia’s business growth is dependent on the success of entrepreneurs. Longwood SBDC is partnering with Virginia’s Growth Alliance to deliver easily accessible in-depth training geared towards supporting entrepreneurial opportunities in our region.

When: The first course is projected to begin October 15, 2014 and will meet once per week either online or in person through November 26, 2014.

Cost: FREE! This course is a pilot project funded through Department of Housing and Community Development and the Virginia Tourism Corporation.

Those who find that they are not yet ready for this course may meet with an SBDC counselor to develop a plan of action and advance their preparedness.

Don’t wait! Call 434-395-2360 or email Sheri McGuire for more information and to be added to the interest list.

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