What is SMARTstart?
An entrepreneurial training program with three components: online learning, in-person seminars, and mentorship.
Who’s it for?
People with a business idea and new business owners in their first 3 years of operation.
Where is it?
When does it happen?
The program is delivered over 8 months, once per calendar year, from March-October.
Why take the program?
To increase the chance of a new business surviving those first crucial years.
Application Form & Process
Is the application form only online?
Yes, only online applications are accepted.
If I already have a business plan, what plan do I create?
You can work on updating and enhancing your Business Plan. Or, you may choose to work on a Strategic Plan instead.
If I’m not accepted, can I apply again?
Yes, you may re-apply to the program. Should you not be accepted into the program we recommend you contact program organizers to get feedback about your application.
If I’m not accepted, where can I get help for my business?
There are several organizations who assist Entrepreneurs. We suggest you contact a local Community Futures, your Chamber of Commerce or municipal economic development department to discuss your needs.
Can I save my application and come back and add to it later?
While the program we use allows you to come back and edit your form (provided you are on the same computer/device each time), we recommend you complete your form all at once to ensure you do not lose any of the answers you worked so hard to write.
After I apply, can I change my application or submit additional materials?
No. Your application is final after you submit it. Therefore, please take the time to ensure you’ve uploaded any supporting materials and answered the questions in full before you hit submit.
Should I apply early? Is it first-come, first-served?
Applicants are not selected on a first-come, first-served basis. Each application is reviewed individually and is based on the Selection Committee’s criteria; there is no advantage to applying early.
Are franchises eligible for SMARTstart?
Franchises independently owned and operated are eligible for SMARTstart.
Are multi-level marketing businesses eligible?
No, unfortunately we do not accept businesses who are part of a multi-level marketing, networking marketing or referral marketing organizations.
Program Details & Commitments
Can I have a day job and be part of SMARTstart?
Yes, many of our entrepreneurs also work full or part-time jobs. To accommodate this, the program is run over the course of 8 months. We also alternate our in-person seminars between lunchtime and evenings to accommodate work/personal schedules.
How much of a time commitment is SMARTstart?
While it’s difficult to estimate the exact amount of time you need to dedicate to SMARTstart, we’ve provided some estimates here.
Mentors & Mentoring
Who are the program’s mentors?
Mentors are local business owners with 7+ years of experience. To see the requirements for becoming a mentor, visit Be a Mentor.
How are mentors and entrepreneurs paired?
Matching is based on the Mentor’s strengths and the Entrepreneur’s needs. Before they are paired, Mentors and Entrepreneurs have an opportunity to briefly meet at a networking evening. While both entrepreneurs and mentors have the opportunity to tell us who they would like to be paired with, SMARTstart organizers make the final matches.