Depositphotos_74088177_l-2015Being an entrepreneur can be a scary business. Even the most successful businesses are forced to ask themselves – how do I grow and take my company to the next level?

That’s where 10,000 Small Businesses comes in, a program sponsored by Goldman Sachs where “entrepreneurship meets economic development,” says Patricia Greene. Babson College’s Academic Director of the program, Greene engages with businesses and helps train them to develop and change their working goals and style.

“We concern businesses with the next big opportunity, whatever that may be,” explains Greene. “The program is about seeking out other opportunities out there pertaining to their mission – whether it be a new product, service, or market.”

The 10,000 Small Businesses helps all kinds of entrepreneurs – including those in the film industry. The program helps film industry professionals create a sustainable business model centered on their passion for film and storytelling. “We try to train filmmakers and film professionals to switch from the delight with creating their product to thinking about the delight creating business,” says Greene, “and it’s a huge mindset switch. They should still be creative, but use a different lens.” Aligning with Washington Filmworks’ goal, Greene emphasizes that businesses should grow to boost economic development and allow for more professional opportunities.

The program is not only relevant to our state’s industry because of its past experience with film and media businesses, but also because it has helped one Spokane business owner in particular.Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 12.48.21 PM

Michael Pickering is a partner at Comrade Studios, a company dedicated to post-production. He explains the 10,000 Small Business’ model as “helping small organizations – those that have from 4 employees to 499 – grow exponentially with big modifications.” After a selective application process, Pickering spent two weeks in Boston, and eight weeks online (about 30-40 hours) during the entire program to graduate and walk out with a detailed growth plan.

The “developing growth plan” has a structure that “depends on each business.” For Comrade Studios, Pickering explains the growth plan is to “target and invest in sales – we are going to go after companies and advertising agencies, and helping that is hiring a sales person.”

Exciting things are obviously in store for Pickering and Comrade Studios, but he also reflects regularly on what he learned in the program. “I learned a lot, especially about marketing, finances, metrics, employment issues, and hiring and firing – pretty much every aspect of running your business,” explains Pickering.

Most importantly, however, Pickering embraces the lesson of “truly coming up with a plan and following through with it. The plan lives in a document and you can always go back and refer to it in order to move forward – because the goals you set, they often change shape; but you always have to move towards something. Setting goals is the most important thing I learned.”

According to Pickering, now after the program, Comrade Studios’ future “looks very bright. We have a lot of opportunities now – we are talking about opening a post-production shop in Seattle (one way we’ll expand), in addition to targeting people out of the East and West sides of the state as well as sales.” Pickering also shares that the program allowed for several networking opportunities and, as a result, Comrade Studios ended up very close to many other businesses.

Clearly, the 10,000 Small Businesses is a program rich in benefits both professional and personal. Washington Filmworks thanks both Patricia Greene and Michael Pickering for their time and insight! You can check out more information here about 10,000 Small Businesses and Comrade Studios.


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Patricia G. Greene is the Paul T. Babson Chair in Entrepreneurial Studies at Babson College where she formerly served first as Dean of the Undergraduate School and later as Provost. Greene’s current assignment at Babson is to serve as the academic director for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses and 10,000 Women programs. Dr. Greene is a founding member of the Diana Project, a research group dedicated to studying women business owners and their businesses. She is a federal appointee to the national advisory board for the SBA’s Small Business Development Centers. She loves to talk about entrepreneurship, sharing her soapboxes on changing the way the world does business with anyone who will listen. Her latest entrepreneurial endeavor is as a co-owner of Artworks, a specialty store in Gettysburg, PA.

l92834731Michael Pickering, a partner at Comrade Studios in Spokane, has been a Producer, DP, and Director in commercial advertising for over    20 years. In his spare time, Michael shoots stills with a decidedly low-tech Polaroid camera and produces documentaries and narrative shorts.