Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Summit: Innovation

Transcend Founder and CEO Laura Huckabee-Jennings traveled to Washington, DC this week to attend the first-ever Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Summit. Laura graduated from the National Cohort of the 10,000 Small Businesses program in 2015 and as an alumna, was invited to attend the summit.

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program

10,000 Small Businesses SummitGoldman Sachs’ national initiative was created to help entrepreneurs create jobs and economic opportunity by providing greater access to education, capital, and business support services. Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein calls the program, “a kind of mini-MBA.” It’s offered in 20 cities across the country and features training in accounting, how to negotiate, effective hiring, etc. A year after they go through the program, two-thirds of the people have made substantial hires and most have had their revenues rise.

Another benefit of the program is the creation of an invaluable alumni network. Members do business with each other and help contribute to each other’s business growth. I was able to reunite with several members of my growth group at the summit. The relationships that come out of the program are a key benefit. Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses has helped Transcend in ways that I could not have imagined when I was first accepted into the program.

Innovation and Success for Small Businesses

In addition to networking opportunities with fellow alumni, the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Summit offered an incredible roster of speakers, including Warren Buffett, Lloyd Blankfein, Richard Branson and Sara Blakely. Some of the notable advice included how to be more innovative from Adam Grant, Wharton professor and co-author of Plan B with Sheryl Sandberg.

Adam spoke about creating an innovative culture, saying, “Even one taker on the team spoils the whole team. To create innovation, you must weed out the takers.” We have seen this in our client teams — that even one selfish or ego-driven team member drives team cohesion down.

In order to spur innovation, you also have to make it safe to talk about problems and voice concerns. This can be done in any number of ways, including having a “problem box” where problems are logged, read, and then nominated as important enough to be solved (Warby Parker’s approach), or by making it uncomfortable to not speak up (Elon Musk’s approach).

And perhaps our favorite quote of the day, “The moment you think you’re different [from everyone else], you’ve closed the door to learning.” How often do we think our company, our industry, our situation is unique — preventing us from learning from others?

Drop me a line if you’d like to learn more about the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Summit or the program itself, and the “big power of small business!”

Related links:

MSNBC: Small Business Owners Gather for First-ever Summit

Transcend CEO Joins Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses: About the Program