Growth outcomes don’t always follow entrepreneurs’ graduation from ScaleUP! KC — sometimes they come before the game-changing, no-cost program is even complete, its leaders said.
Rickey Leathers made significant strides in his business, Savvy Salon — co-owned with his wife, Lenora — while enrolled in the cohort, he said.
“I successfully opened a second location and introduced an innovative membership product,” said Leathers. “As a result of implementing the strategies and insights I gained from ScaleUP! KC, our revenues have grown tremendously.”
When he first joined the program, the Leathers’ annual revenues were below $300,000, but by the end of 2022, Savvy Salon had surpassed $650,000 and is projecting revenues of $750,000 for 2023.
“We have been able to create jobs, establish a leadership position and improve our financial processes by implementing effective systems,” he said. “The ScaleUP! KC program truly transformed my thinking and emphasized the importance of dedicating time to work on the business rather than solely in it.”
The program — an effort led by the UMKC Innovation Center — helps business owners forecast revenue and expenses, create value, carve a niche market, hire the right employees and formulate a succession plan. More than 190 alumni like Leathers have leveraged the program not only to dramatically increase sales — some to $50 million in revenue — but also to create opportunities to increase their business potential and become true Kansas City business leaders, according to ScaleUP! KC.
Applications are now open for its 13th cohort, which runs Aug. 24 to Dec. 14. The deadline to apply is Aug. 14.
“For nearly a decade, ScaleUP! Kansas City has helped KC business owners get the confidence, one-on-one coaching and a professional peer network that they need to scale the region’s next multimillion-dollar businesses and become the next community leaders,” said Jill Hathaway, program coordinator for ScaleUP! KC. “ScaleUP KC is the vital support that fuels these businesses so they can be big economic drivers in our communities.”
ScaleUP! KC helps Kansas City business owners prepare their businesses for scalable growth with a 16-week program that blends high-impact training with expert speakers, peer mentoring and one-on-one business coaching at a time when small businesses need the tools to help them scale and remain resilient for the future, she said.
To be eligible for ScaleUP! Kansas City, business owners need to have:
- led a company that’s been in business for at least two years and has at least two employees;
- generated annual sales in excess of $250,000;
- created a strong market than can generate well beyond $1 million in sales; and
- drive to lead part of the next generation of business leaders in Kansas City
Lessons come from a mix of expert coaches, consultants and their fellow business owners who hail from the tech sector, manufacturing, service industries and many other areas of business.
Since Dr. Michelle Macrorie completed the program five years ago, her business, Autism from the Start, opened a second location in 2022, expanded from 16 employees to 53 and increased revenue from nearly $700,000 in 2017 to $2.4 million in 2022.
“The lessons ScaleUP! KC taught me have helped tremendously,” she said. “Specialize, live by your core values, document processes and keep them updated, delegate — there are so many great takeaways.”
ScaleUP! KC is funded by the Missouri Small Business Development Center at the University of Missouri — Kansas City and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Administrative support and coaching is facilitated by the Missouri SBDC at UMKC, a program of the UMKC Innovation Center.