AccelerateMT Program Spotlight Series: WELL WBC
April 5, 2023 •Accelerate Montana Team
Welcome to AccelerateMT’s Program Spotlight Series! In this series of blog posts, you will meet our leaders and team members who lead their fields and are subject matter experts in their areas of business and career development and learn more about each program within AccelerateMT. In this post, we’ll explore WELL WBC program (Women’s Entrepreneurship and Leadership Lab, Women’s Business Center), which aims to support equitable success for all Montana women through education, empowerment, and advocacy resulting in a growing economy.
Table of Contents
WELL WBC Course Offerings
WBC offers a range of courses that are designed for different stages of the entrepreneurial journey as a business idea evolves and comes into focus. One of the key first steps is learning about your own passions and how to translate those passions into a business. WELL WBC offers 5 premier courses (fee-based) and currently also offers 8 free micro-courses as well with more being developed.
Coming soon, WELL WBC has a new course titled “Reimagining Retail” which explores numerous key facets of developing your business into a successful retail venture. The program is also developing content for key partners that will have specific themes relating to their industries, so stay tuned for those courses.
The big news is their sister program “Native Women Launch” is in the final phases of development with the plan to launch the program online in Summer of 2023. As their sister program, Native Women Launch comes online, there are more course offerings planned with indigenized and customized content for new audiences. This program serves indigenous entrepreneurs with customized course content - so we are very excited to be part of this journey and support the courses coming soon.
Why is WELL WBC important?
The WELL WBC mission best highlights the importance of the organization which is, “Creating empowering environments where women say their ideas out loud” (Learn more here). WELL WBC is also a remote organization model and all of its programs are available online and accessible via smartphone and desktop devices. This program works with rural communities and entrepreneurs, and also directly supports the Native Women Launch program which offers content in customized contexts to support indigenous entrepreneurs. The combination of being rural-centric, supporting women entrepreneurs in these communities, and having a team that lives the rural realities of getting a business started and running is also what makes this program important.
What does WELL WBC do?
WELL WBC is partially funded by the Small Business Association, and our program is one of 145 across the USA. Belonging to this larger initiative brings numerous benefits to our program with extensive resources and engagement that the WELL WBC team are able to pass along to members and audiences.
WELL WBC offers two spaces for community and technical interactions based on services.
One space is centered on providing technical assistance and includes no-cost advising and support for addressing key issues such as profitability, cash flow, financing, and accounting needs. This is the space where your idea is developed one-on-one with a technical advisor, who also works with you as you address different business needs (e.g. government contracting, funding opportunities, supply chain issues, etc.). You can join this space by registering for the WELL WBC coaching services and completing the form at this link.
The second space is called the WELL Community which is based on social interactions and where our courses, events, activities, and resources are hosted. Inside this space, there are also groups, a wall for posts, and numerous options to engage with the members. You can join the WELL Community from our website by clicking on the big red button “Join Today” or by following this link. Both spaces are free to join.
The Origin of WELL WBC
The program began as a course that was developed by Morgan Sternberger as she followed her own passions for her business ideas while working with Accelerate Montana. The early versions of the program were offered to students at the University of Montana, which then grew in interest and scope. The program we manage today came into being with Morgan’s successful application to the Small Business Association to be the second Women’s Business Center in Montana.
Where is WELL WBC based and what communities does it serve across Montana?
WELL WBC is based in the digital sector with a virtual/remote organization structure. One of the biggest challenges any entrepreneur faces, especially as a woman entrepreneur is an access to capital. Our online structure allows for deep access into the rural communities we serve across the 56 counties in Montana. We serve tribal communities and non-tribal communities alike, including organizations and individuals.
Why should someone take a WELL WBC course?
WELL WBC offers a range of training, 1:1 counseling, and resources to provide various options courses. If we are not offering support directly for a particular topic, we are able to invite others to the conversation for support and information. What we work with are the needs of the entrepreneur so no inquiry or need is too small. We can support their needs individually through each of our areas of support, or in a group setting with a cohort model with expertise in the attendees. In the table below is an overview of what we offer or provide access to for a wide range of needs:
|Startup and Growth Stages
Marketing for Growth
Operations and Processes
Disaster Preparedness and Recovery
Business Plan (and Business Model)
Finance and Accounting
Chambers of Commerce
Local, State and Federal Government Agencies
Small Business Networks
How does the WELL WBC program impact Montana’s economic development?
The success of WELL WBC is measured by the number of businesses registered, the number of jobs created, and the amount of capital infusion created within our network. This has a direct impact on the Montana economy as businesses grow. The WELL WBC team tracks its activities with data and observes trends within industry sectors. A recent data sample highlighted that of the 8 new businesses registered in a certain area, 5 were related to healthcare and wellness with 3 of the businesses showing potential for adding a job to their workforce. Our data also revealed a potential for recording capital infusion into their businesses. The combination of knowing the US Census data and what our records capture is providing a foundation for identifying our impact (as women entrepreneurs) on the Montana economy. This is a topic close to our hearts at WELL WBC that we are sharing as our success stories are developed.