The NaperLaunch Academy offers a focused curriculum to help entrepreneurs develop fundamental business knowledge and learn the “lean startup process.” To meet the needs of busy entrepreneurs, the curriculum is presented in two formats: live workshops or self-guided virtual courses. Descriptions and the schedule of these events are listed below.
Each of the 6 workshops will be presented in an ongoing sequential rotation per the schedule below from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. on each date indicated. Participants can choose the workshops and sequence that best meet their needs. Workshops may be held in person or via Zoom video conference as circumstances dictate. (Effective August 2020, workshops will be presented by Zoom video conference until further notice.)
- August 11
- October 20
Startup Financial Essentials
- August 18
- October 27
- August 25
- November 3
- September 1
- November 10
Strategic Marketing Planning
- September 8
- November 17
- September 15
- November 24
- September 23
- January 13
Startup Financial Essentials
- October 7
- January 20
- September 30
- January 27
- October 14
- February 3
Strategic Marketing Planning
- October 21
- February 10
- October 28
- February 17
|Business Conceptualization||October 20||Register|
|Business Operations||November 3||Register|
|Startup Financial Essentials||October 27||Register|
|Business Planning||October 14||Register|
|Strategic Marketing Planning||October 21||Register|
This two-hour workshop introduces the Lean Business Model Canvas and its all-important Unique Value Proposition concept, as well as 12 behavioral traits that have proven to be accurate predictors of entrepreneurial success and satisfaction. Attendees will understand how to use a lean business model canvas to develop their business concept and how to craft a powerful unique value proposition for their business. They will also engage in a self-assessment of their entrepreneurial skills and learn how to compensate for any weaknesses.
This two-hour workshop introduces basic concepts about funding strategies and sources, pricing models and break-even analysis. Attendees will understand how to determine the amount of money needed for a startup, how to establish an appropriate price of their product or service and how to complete a break-even analysis.
To introduce key operational concerns for any business, this two-hour workshop addresses bookkeeping and accounting concepts, sales and income tax requirements, employment regulations and insurance and risk management issues. Attendees will understand the difference between bookkeeping and accounting and the value of each to a business, how federal and state tax and employment laws apply to their business and which insurance coverage is appropriate to protect the business against risk.
Writing a business plan is a significant challenge to new business owners, but it is also very important. This two-hour workshop explains the basics of business planning and introduces some library resources designed specifically to help business owners write a business plan. Attendees will understand the benefits of writing a plan, the basic components of a plan and how to use library databases such as the Gale Business: Plan Builder software.
This two-hour workshop introduces the concept of a strategic marketing plan in the format of vision, goals, objectives, strategies and tactics. The workshop content also includes discussion of 18 different marketing channels and their relative costs, as well as how to use the Gale Business: Plan Builder software to create a written strategic marketing plan.
Selling is perhaps the single most important skill for an entrepreneur. This two-hour workshop introduces six fundamental professional selling skills. Specific networking strategies and development of referral sources are also addressed. Attendees will understand the six selling skills and how to use them in sales transactions. They will also understand basic networking skills and how to develop a referral source strategy.
Self-Guided Video Courses
The 17 NaperLaunch Academy class sessions are available virtually on the NaperLaunch BizVids webpage. Participants can work through the courses on their own schedule. Class sessions for each course have been video-recorded and are presented with links to handouts and PowerPoint presentations.
In the Business Feasibility Model course, participants learn how to use the Lean Business Model Canvas to explore a business idea and gain an understanding of the "lean startup process."
In the first part of the course, participants design a customer interview strategy to identify customer problems and confirm the solutions in their own product or service. They develop a unique value proposition and identify customer segments and channels leading to appropriate marketing strategies.
The latter part of the course is focused on development of a minimally viable product and mapping out a strategy for a proof of concept. Participants complete the nine parts of the Lean Business Model Canvas, which will provide guidance going forward with their business ideas.
The Starting a Business in Illinois course begins with a discussion of 12 entrepreneurial behavioral traits that help to identify strengths and weaknesses and entrepreneurial potential. Participants learn how to create a business organization with the state of Illinois, file articles of incorporation or organization, and register with county and city officials. They also explore funding options, insurance protection and other risk transfer techniques, bookkeeping options, and other aspects of entrepreneurship.
In the Write a Business Plan course, participants use Gale Business: Plan Builder software to create a business plan that builds on the ideas and concepts discovered in the Lean Business Model Canvas. Participants learn the importance and purpose of a business plan and follow the five steps of plan creation—entrepreneur profile, ideation, break-even analysis, plan narrative, and financial projections—to produce a full business plan that covers all aspects of starting up and running a business.
Participants learn how to use library resources to complete market research, competitor analysis and demographic studies. Following a simple step-by-step process in the Gale Business: Plan Builder software, they may produce a final written business plan that includes complete financial statements, a sales forecast, recap of all expense categories and identification of funding sources and the amounts needed.
In the Write a Strategic Marketing Plan course, participants use the Strategic Marketing Plan outline in the Gale Business: Plan Builder software to create a plan that includes a vision statement, goals, objectives, strategies and tactics.
Participants learn how to create marketing goals and objectives and use library resources to conduct market research and analysis that can be used to develop ideal customer personas. They will practice turning their unique value proposition into effective marketing messages and explore a variety of marketing platforms, channels and media. Budgets and measurement will also be discussed.
In the Professional Selling Skills course, participants learn specific selling skills based on research that identified fundamental behaviors of successful salespeople. To enhance individual learning, the recorded courses show individuals engaged in sales scenarios and role plays.
Through lecture and practical application, participants learn how to distinguish between features and benefits; use probes to uncover customer needs and support those needs with a benefits statement; recognize buying signals and use a trial close; overcome objections; use probes to confirm a customer need or acceptance of a proof; and close a sale with agreement for next steps.
NaperLaunch Academy is the second-best thing that happened to me, only exceeded by first starting our business. I didn’t realize until I completed the whole course, the journey and the whole training process have indeed transformed my perspective slowly. I will cherish this experience forever. I owe it to the entire team at NaperLaunch for my inner growth as an entrepreneur. As a result, I feel more confident and resourceful. The benefits of attending the academy are, it empowered me with information, knowledge, and tools that I use in my daily activities like, plan my finances, talking to investors, and making a projection. I feel safe to go beyond my comfort zone knowing I have people with expertise at NaperLaunch I can lean on for advice and direction.
— Sivakumar Ramu