In the early days of his graphic design business, SJD World, Stephan Johnstone was mostly learning by trial and error.

It wasn’t until 2017, when taking a course created for established small and medium business owners in Bermuda – called StreetWise ‘MBA’™- that he finally got some formal instruction to help his business grow.

Mr Johnstone initially heard about the Boston based programme from a friend. At the time, he was working to make certain processes and systems in his business more streamlined – so he hoped the course would be the best next step for him as an entrepreneur.

StreetWise ‘MBA’ is an award winning curriculum that provides business knowledge, management know-how and connections to established entrepreneurs looking to enhance their operations. Formerly offered through Bermuda College’s PACE programme, the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation [BEDC] this year acquired a two-year licensing agreement to host the course.

Mr. Johnstone said: “I never studied business in high school or college, so I figured there had to be something useful I could get out of the StreetWise ‘MBA’™programme. Up until that point, everything I had learned as an entrepreneur was done so organically or I kind of made things up as I went along.

“This programme was an opportunity for me to see how other business owners did certain things and to see where I stood in comparison to others more established or successful than I. I wanted to learn some of the right things to do in any given situation and to save myself from doing anything that was a waste of time.”

The course was challenging for Mr. Johnstone at first. He wasn’t used to being back in a classroom setting, listening to lectures and having homework, but he eventually adapted to the new format and gained a lot from the study materials.

“What I really liked about StreetWise ‘MBA’™, which is something that I didn’t know going into it, is that we would get to use our business as a case study,” he said. “So rather than being in a business class and making up hypothetical scenarios, we got to look at our own business from a bird’s eye view, including our current challenges, and determine which steps needed to be made to improve upon it.”

When the six month programme was completed, Mr. Johnstone said he noticed himself becoming more confident in his own choices. Thanks to the course’s peer learning model, he was able to hear from other entrepreneurs about their problems and discuss solutions.

That information in particular was extremely helpful.

“I would say the biggest reward [that came from completing the course] was having more clarity with my business,” Mr. Johnstone said. “Before, it was like I was driving down the road with a dirty windshield. I saw things in front of me but wasn’t 100 percent sure what was coming my way.

“StreetWise gave me more clarity and a new perspective on what needed to be done next to grow to the level I hoped for. I’m all about learning new things so to be able to look at things in a new light was very interesting and worthwhile.”

More than a year later, he still refers back to course material as a guide on occasion.

The next cohort of the StreetWise ‘MBA’™ programme starts on Monday, August 20th and runs on Thursdays from September 6, 2018 to January 31, 2019 from 5.30pm until 8.30pm.

In order to be eligible for StreetWise ‘MBA’™, candidates must have been in business for over three years, have at least one full-time employee besides the owner and earn a gross annual revenue of less than $5 million. Spaces are extremely limited. To apply for the 13 session course, which costs $750, before this Friday’s deadline, email or call 292-5570.

[Written by Nadia Laws]