NaperLaunch Academy

NaperLaunch Academy Logo

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. Schedules, registration links, and session descriptions are listed below.

2022 Schedule

All sessions meet on Wednesdays from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. in the NaperLaunch coworking space at the Nichols Library. Workshops may be moved to Zoom if circumstances dictate.

Winter Spring Summer Fall
So, You Want to Start a Business? Jan. 5 - June 22 -
Starting a Business (4-week series) Jan. 19 - Feb. 9 April 6 - April 27 July 6 - July 27 Sept. 21 - Oct. 12
Growing a Business (4-week series) Feb. 23 - Mar. 16 May 11 - June 1 Aug. 10 - Aug. 31 Oct. 26 - Nov. 16

Registration

So, You Want to Start a Business? Jan. 5 Register
Starting a Business (4-week series) Jan. 19 - Feb. 9 Register
Growing a Business (4-week series) Feb. 23 - Mar. 16 Registration opens Feb. 1

Session Descriptions

   So, You Want to Start a Business?

This introductory session is intended for anyone who is thinking about starting their own business or curious about the services offered by NaperLaunch and SCORE Fox Valley. Participants will engage in a self-assessment of their entrepreneurial skills and consider some basic questions for which every aspiring entrepreneur should have a clear answer. They will also learn about the NaperLaunch Academy from instructors and past participants.

  Starting a Business series

During this 4-week series, attendees will learn to use a lean business model canvas to develop their business concept; determine funding strategies and sources, pricing models and break-even analysis; and address key operational concerns including bookkeeping and accounting concepts, sales and income tax requirements, state and federal employment regulations and insurance and risk management issues. Participants are expected to attend all four sessions and complete homework assignments outside of class.

  • Week 1: Business Conceptualization

    Attendees will learn 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.

  • Week 2: Startup Financial Essentials

    Attendees will learn how to determine the amount of money needed for a startup, how to establish an appropriate price for their product or service, and how to complete a break-even analysis.

  • Week 3: Starting a Business in Illinois

    Attendees will learn 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.

  • Week 4: Assignment Review and Individual Mentoring

    Attendees will meet with Academy instructors and NaperLaunch coaches to review their work and discuss issues specific to their business.

  Growing a Business series

During this 4-week series, attendees will learn the basics of writing a business plan and a strategic marketing plan with the help of some library resources specifically designed for this purpose. They will also learn six fundamental professional selling skills and how to use them in sales transactions. Participants are expected to attend all four sessions and complete homework assignments outside of class.

  • Week 1: Business Planning

    Attendees will learn the benefits of writing a business plan, the basic components of a plan, and how to use the Library’s Gale Business: Plan Builder software to create a plan that builds on the ideas and concepts discovered in the Lean Business Model Canvas.

  • Week 2: Marketing

    Attendees will 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 also will practice turning their unique value proposition into effective marketing messages.

  • Week 3: Professional Sales Skills

    Attendees will 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.

  • Week 4: Assignment Review and Individual Mentoring

    Attendees will meet with Academy instructors and NaperLaunch coaches to review their work and discuss issues specific to their business.

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.

   Business Feasibility Model

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.

  Starting a Business in Illinois

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.

  Write a Business Plan

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.

  Write a Strategic Marketing Plan

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.

  Professional Selling Skills

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

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
   Radiance Biosciences