DETROIT — CEOs of small businesses are encouraged to participate in a nationally recognized program designed to assist growth in “second stage”  businesses.

The Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center will present Venture Forward starting Friday, Jan. 20 at Schoolcraft College in Livonia, to help the existing business owners looking to grow.

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Venture Forward is an intensive, 11-week program designed for owners, CEOs and top management team members of businesses with at least two years of operating experience and $750,000 in annual sales.

Focused on issues most important to business health and growth, attendees gain knowledge to make critical decisions about their business and strategy, investigate next-stage growth and opportunity, plan for strategic growth, build and maintain a competitive advantage and maximize cash flow for profitability.  Venture Forward utilizes the highly acclaimed FastTrac GrowthVenture learning system. Applicants can apply online.

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The program helps business owners learn several business development skills including how to:
* Develop an overall business strategy for growth
* Achieve a strong, competitive market position
* Plan financial needs to avoid cash flow problems
* Structure operations for improved efficiency
* Determine whether a company has the right people to get the job done

“Many operating businesses never get the opportunity to step back and work on their business, usually focusing on working in their business,” said Tammy Thomson, SBTDC director at Schoolcraft College. She said Venture Forward ”gives them the chance to step back and work on their business.”

Venture Forward consists of 11 Friday sessions running from Jan. 20 through March 30, with each session lasting from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The cost is $299, which is reduced from the normal fee of $699 thanks to the MSU Broadband Technology Opportunity Program Grant Award.

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Sessions will be held at Schoolcraft College’s VisTaTech Center, 18600 Haggerty Road in Livonia. To register, visit Sara Gumina at (734) 462-4438 or