First Rural “Taking the Leap” Cohort Since COVID is a Success

Jul 2, 2024

by Jules Monroe, Business Launch Specialist at SBTDC Charlotte

In April, the SBTDC partnered with their sister organization, the Small Business Center Network, to offer a Taking the Leap cohort in Stanly County. It was the first in-person cohort to be offered in a rural county since COVID, and it was a success!

What is Taking the Leap?

Taking the Leap is an 8-hour cohort which teaches new business owners the fundamentals of business ownership and how to get started the right way. The class covers a range of topics, including how to register a business, the mindset of entrepreneurs, creating a business plan, how to record and track financials and how to market a business.

The Stanly County cohort consisted of 18 attendees and ran for two hours on Mondays starting on April 8 and ending on April 29. Thanks to the SBC’s relationship with Uwharrie Bank, the bank graciously sponsored the cohort. Their generous donation of $1000 provided prizes for the pitch competition and light refreshments. The Stanly County SBC provided space for the cohort along with marketing, counseling and other support services, which were vital to the success of the cohort.

Taking the Leap Pitch Competition

The final week featured a pitch competition with cash prizes. First prize was $500 while second prize was $250 and third was $100. It was a vibrant event with a lot of great pitches. The judges had such a hard time deciding that they added some ad hoc awards like “Social Media Guru” and “Most Passionate.”

Taking the Leap pitch winners and judges.

Success Story: Head2Toe Sneakers & Salon

One of the success stories from the cohort was Head2Toe Sneakers & Salon, owned by Sarah Thompson and Aidan Brown. They had a grand opening for the new location on April 27, and the attendance was excellent. Jules Monroe, the Launch Specialist who conducted the April cohort, was on hand to celebrate with her clients and take pictures of the grand opening. Sarah and Aidan also took third prize in the pitch competition.

The partnership between the SBTDC and the Stanly County Small Business Center created an amazing opportunity for the small business owners in this rural county. This is what entrepreneurship support looks like at its best!

Head2Toe Sneakers & Salon grand opening.

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