Tennessee Entrepreneur Initiative

The Tennessee Entrepreneur Initiative hopes large companies will sponsor training for 10,000 business owners in Tennessee.

Two women from the Nashville area are partnering with a nonprofit organization to offer free online training for entrepreneurs in Tennessee.

The project, called the Tennessee Entrepreneur Initiative, hopes to get large businesses to sponsor online training for 10,000 entrepreneurs over the next year. 

Recipients would get access to training through The Lonely Entrepreneur, a nonprofit group that provides training videos, business coaching and an online community of other entrepreneurs. 

The Tennessee Entrepreneur Initiative estimates there are more than 470,000 entrepreneurs in Tennessee, and the vast majority of those people are working alone. 

Diane Michel, one of the project’s leaders, said she wants to help entrepreneurs who don’t feel like they have a place to go for answers.

“There’s a lot of information out there for entrepreneurs, but it’s very scattered and disorganized,” she said. “They’re googling for answers, getting lost down a rabbit hole for hours trying to find answers to their questions. It’s a very frustrating process.”

The training program offers many practical resources, such as templates for business documents and reviews of services for small businesses. But the program also includes a social network that allows entrepreneurs to connect. 

“People can learn the business acumen, but there is a massive personal struggle. That’s what nobody was speaking to. That’s what this platform speaks to,” Michel said. 

Michel said she and her partner Tracy Davison have already identified a number of networking and community groups whose members could benefit from the training. 

They plan to give those groups tokens to access the online training, and those groups will be responsible for distributing the training to their members. 

The initiative places a big focus on providing training to entrepreneurs from groups that might not normally have easy access to those types of resources, such as veterans, former prisoners and immigrants. 

The plan is to have large businesses sponsor access to the training. Michel said she hopes companies will see the program as an opportunity to achieve social responsibility goals or requirements. 

Michel and Davison will need to raise at least $1 million to train 10,000 entrepreneurs, but they said the business community in Tennessee has responded positively so far and they’re hopeful they can accomplish the goal. 

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