How It Works.
Sign up to join The Program.
Once you've decided you're interested in exploring a business idea, you'll fill out an interest form telling us a little bit about you and the idea. Then we’ll match you up with a local advisor who will talk with you on the phone or in person to find out what kind of experience you have, and to assess what kind of training you might need to make your dream a reality.
Gather your tools.
You’ll do some one-on-one training or skill-building before formal classes begin. These may include refreshing or enhancing relevant computer, math, or other skills, as well as tips and strategies for successful small business financial management, negotiating, or managing customer interactions.
Take the training course.
Next, you’ll attend the 8-week “Business Basics” training classes, led by professional business trainers with the assistance of local business experts. Thanks to generosity of the Staunton Creative Community Fund, the training will be free of charge. You’ll learn about assessing your market, estimating your costs and income, registering your company with the state, finding the right location, starting a bookkeeping system, paying business taxes, marketing and advertising your product or service, and more.
Pitch Your Plan
When you've completed the course, you and your classmates will be guided on putting together your business plans and funding proposals for evaluation by the The Walker Program Board. Viable business plans are eligible for cash grants from the Walker Program Grant Fund. The board will also direct you toward donated services from area professionals that will help you get your business off the ground.
Launch your business.
Local business leaders from Main Street Lexington, GoBV, Rockbridge County Economic Development, and the Chamber of Commerce will help you find a location for your business and guide you through the steps to register in your locality and set up shop.
Connect with your community.
THE WALKER PROGRAM's core strength is bringing the community together to support new business. You'll be brought into the existing network of local businesses, where you can make connections, share challenges, and become an integral part of the economy. THE WALKER PROGRAM will provide ongoing support such as business advising and access to resources like funding for future growth.
Pay it forward.
Once you are established in business, you'll be able to provide the inspiration and support for the next generation of local entrepreneurs of color.