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Small-biz.XLR8 Program for Permian-Region Entrepreneurs to Start in May

The University of Texas at Austin announces a new training and support program for Texas entrepreneurs.  UT Austin’s IC² Institute has created Small-biz.XLR8, a ten-week course designed to meet the needs of small-business owners in Midland, Odessa, and surrounding Permian Basin communities.  The program will be offered at no cost to business owners, thanks to a generous gift from the Truist Charitable Fund.

Lead instructor, Dr. Gregory Pogue, noted that Small-biz.XLR8 will “teach essential business growth principles while helping participants form mentor relationships among peers and regional business experts, and linking participants to regional funding groups.”  He sees this experience as particularly critical for businesses as they emerge from unprecedented pandemic-induced economic downturn. Recent studies point to the profound impact of the pandemic on small business, with ~60% still reporting reduced revenue receipts and 60% have not restored hiring to pre-pandemic levels. Further, a greater proportion of minority owned business report they are likely to shutter their businesses compared with white small business owners[1].

Beginning May 15, those who sign up for the program will meet weekly online, will have access to online videos and exercises, and will submit work for review by instructors.  They will also be matched with mentors in the region thanks to a partnership with the University of Texas Permian Basin (UTPB) Small Business Development Center, which is helping to identify appropriate local businesses, and UTPB Blackstone Launchpad to engage regional mentor participation.

To get the most out of the program, each participating business should plan to enroll two people in the program, and the online format and flexible mentoring schedule should be convenient for busy entrepreneurs.  Each of the 10 weekly sessions will focus on an essential business growth principle, and an optional, but recommended, 11th session in August will give the entrepreneurs a chance to practice pitching presentations. 

Program participants can expect to gain

  • A deeper understanding of their business’ current value and positioning in the marketplace,
  • A methodology to design and execute market-fitted growth strategies,
  • A network of peer business owners, local mentors, and regional experts, and
  • A framework for a plan and budgetary strategy to present to potential funders.

The Small-biz.XLR8 curricula and mentoring system are based on previously-developed workshops delivered in Austin for local businesses.  Those participants described the experience as “empowering” and “invaluable.” Eloisa Alvarez of It’s Cleaning Time! LLC said, “Joining the program marked the beginning of my company becoming professional and profitable.  We are forever grateful! As a business owner without prior business training and just my experience, I appreciated how the program made business principles easy to understand and apply.”

Two workshop cohorts, composed of 60% women-owned and 45% minority-owned businesses, reported following the program:

  • Addition on average of 2.5 new jobs per participating company;
  • Introduction of new products by >70% participating companies;
  • Expansion of customer base by >90% of participating companies;
  • Growth in annualized revenue by participating companies by >40% on average;
  • Use of workshop-taught methodologies at least once a week by >55% participating companies; and
  • Realization of >$1MM in annualized revenue by several participating companies.

Those interested can sign up online via the website smallbizxlr8.com before April 29.  Women and minority business owners are encouraged to enroll. 


[1] https://smallbusinessmajority.org/sites/default/files/research-reports/COVID-19-national-small-business-poll.pdf