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People young and old, from all backgrounds, are realizing the American dream of starting, owning and operating a small business. Entrepreneurship offers an equalizing force that offers social mobility, economic opportunity and personal freedom.

There is no better way to achieve the dream of entrepreneurship than by researching and writing a business plan. You analyze the pros and cons of a business opportunity, the consequences of different strategies and tactics, and determine the human and financial requirements for turning an inspired idea into a viable business venture.

Studies show that entrepreneurs who complete business plans are six times more likely to build a successful business than those who don’t.

On Thursday, Aug. 27 and Tuesday, Sept. 1, the Napa Valley College Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is offering FREE NxLeveL Entrepreneurial Orientations from 6 to 8 p.m. in Building 3300 at Napa Valley College.

The NxLeveL Entrepreneurial Orientation will inform entrepreneurs and small business owners about a program that will sharpen their strategic thinking skills and develop effective management tools.

NxLeveL is an intensive 11-week, 40-hour small business training program specifically designed for business owners who are positioning their business for expansion and future success.

Over the past decade, the Napa-Sonoma SBDC at Napa Valley College has provided this program to more than 500 local small business owners located in Napa and the surrounding area. The majority of NxLeveL graduates have successfully completed the program with a new lender-ready business plan.

“Nxlevel was instrumental in illuminating for me what it would take to start my own business and get the ball rolling in a powerful way. The curriculum was thorough and all the guest speakers were experts in their field who obviously were there because they want to support small business owners,” says Yesenia Cardona, owner of Heart Driven and recent NxLeveL graduate.

“The best part of the program for me was working one on one with my business plan coach they assign for you. Even with the alternative work I do, they paired me with Carolynne Gamble, who couldn’t have been more respectful and committed to my success and work.”

Often, business owners find themselves experiencing growing pains. Entrepreneurs need the resources and the tools to take their business to the next level. For many business owners, these tools include guidance for taking on management roles, a clearer vision of their business’ goals and policy or structure within the business.

NxLeveL Entrepreneurial classes are held at Napa Valley College, Building 3300 every Tuesday from 6:15 to 9:15 p.m. starting on Sept. 15. The cost of the program is $375 for one person and one set of books.

Discounts are available for more than one person from the same business. For more information about NxLeveL or to register for one of the two free NxLeveL Orientations, call the Napa-Sonoma SBDC at (707) 256-7250 or visit

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Mary Cervantes is the business services director for Napa Valley College Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development Center. Reach her at 256-7253 or


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