ONLINE - Business Foundations 1 | Southern Washington | Wednesdays, beginning October 11th

Classroom of adult students

Session overview

This class is only open to individuals whose businesses are physically located in Clark, Cowlitz, or Skamania counties in Washington. The cost of  this class is covered by local funders and supporters of Mercy Corps Northwest’s Southern Washington Office

Business Foundations 1 takes you along the small business journey from idea to owner. You will discover what it takes to explore the potential of your idea and start your operation.

Starting a business can be a great way to bring in extra cash or to make a living doing something you enjoy. Mercy Corps Northwest makes it easier to learn the basics of starting and operating a small  business through our Business Foundations 1 class.

The six-session series provides discussion, tools, and guidance on the following topics:

  • Week 1 – Introduction to Business: Learn about the different business structures, how to register your business, how to create an elevator speech for your business, and how to track your spending.
  • Week 2 – Start – Up Cost and Credit:  Develop your Unique Value Proposition, determine the start up cost for your business, and learn about credit.
  • Week 3 – Overhead Cost and Focus Groups:  Complete an overhead cost sheet for your business, conduct an analysis of your competition, and define what a focus group is and when it can be beneficial.
  • Week 4 – Market Analysis: Deepen your understanding of market research, your target market and competition, pricing strategy, and how to best leverage some free market research tools.
  • Week 5 – Marketing  and Product Pricing: Continue to understand the value of market research, your target market and competition, and pricing strategy. In this session you will begin incorporating aspects of the business plan to put into practice.
  • Week 6 – Profit & Loss and Developing a Business Plan: Discuss the importance of the Profit & Loss Statement and learn how a complete business plan is developed.

By the end of week 6 students should have a better understanding of:

  • How to decide if a business idea will work
  • How to get the word out and attract customers
  • Figuring out how much money you’ll need to start it, and to keep it going from one month to the next
  • The steps for registering your business with the state
  • Learning how you can best use your valuable time and resources
  • Tell a clear and compelling story when people ask, “What do you do?”

Who is this for?

Business Foundations 1 is for people with limited time and money, and great ideas. No prior business experience or education is necessary, and the class is designed to help you determine if you’re ready to start a business.


Times: The course consists of six three-hour sessions. Class is held in an online classroom every Wednesday from 5:30pm- 8:30pm on the following dates.

  1. October 11
  2. October 18
  3. October 25
  4. November 1
  5. November 8
  6. November 15

Registration policy

  • Registration closes on Monday, October 9th at 12:00 pm. Once the event registration is closed, you will need to wait for the next offering in order to register. We cannot accommodate late registrations.
  • You will receive a follow up email with conferencing details no later Monday, October 9th.
  • To cancel your registration please submit a request to prior to the webinar or consultation date
Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. Contact

What can you expect?

People who have taken Business Foundations discover that it’s a fun, easy way to learn about business ownership and a great way to find support right here in our entrepreneurial community. Here’s what other aspiring entrepreneurs had to say after completing the class:

“Hearing others and sharing helped give me the confidence I needed to move forward.”

“I really liked having a plan–having the combination of the course book, homework, and class was perfect–it made an overwhelming prospect much more manageable. I was able to mull things over and be prepared for class—which always address questions that came up for me–even if I wasn’t the one asking. The whole format and instruction was incredibly valuable.”

“This class was so supportive and empowering!”

Event registration

[8 remaining]


Do you reside in a rural part of the state of Oregon?
Rural is defined as cities with less than 30,000 people or living outside the following areas: Albany, Bend, Corvallis, Eugene, Grants Pass, McMinnville, Medford, Portland Metro Area, Salem/Keizer, or Springfield.
If you heard about this program from another organization or source not listed, please specify. 

Business information

Max length: 500 characters
What phase is your business in?

Existing businesses

Is your business registered with the Secretary of State?

For Washington-based businesses, is it registered with the Department of Revenue?

What is your business registered as legally?

What kind of business did you register?

Okay to estimate.
What is your business ownership percentage?
What industry is your business in?
Do you work full time or part time at your business?
Is your business based out of your home?
Do you conduct business online?

Answer 'yes' if you do sales of any kind online.

Not including yourself, does your business have any employees?
Currently, what is your highest priority business goal?

Demographic information

At Mercy Corps Northwest we encourage individuals of all backgrounds to apply for our programs. 

The following information will remain anonymous and confidential. We aggregate data to report trends and analyze performance, but there is no personal data associated with these reports. Your answers will not impact your ability to participate in MCNW services.
What pronouns do you use?
What pronouns do you use?
Are you employed part time or full time by someone else (meaning outside your business)?
Do you consider yourself an economically disadvantaged individual (per the definition below)?
Economically disadvantaged individuals are individuals who have experienced difficulties in competing in the business world because of their identity as members of a specific group. It could also be because of their financial situation. 

These groups could be, but are not limited to, racial, ethnic, gender, or disability groups. 
Do you speak a language other than English at home?
Which language do you speak at home?
Household definition: all individuals who share the space they use for eating and living together and share financial dependency. Include yourself.
Household income: refers to annual gross income for all adult members of the household.

Household income includes monthly gross salary or wages, self-employment income (owner’s draw), general assistance (food stamps, SNAP, TANF), SSI or SSDI (Social Security Benefits), unemployment compensation (UI, COVID or PUA), retirement income (Pension/401ks/Annuities/IRAs), investment income, child support/alimony, dependent benefits.
Do you identify as LGBTQ+?
Have you ever been incarcerated?
All individuals are eligible to participate, regardless of their level of involvement with the justice system.
Are you a member of a federally recognized tribe?
Because Mercy Corps Northwest is a federally-funded non-profit, we are required to report the following demographic information for our small business clients. Thank you for taking the time to complete the following questions.
Are you Hispanic?
Race/Ethnicity (Check all that apply)
Do you live with a disability?
Mercy Corps Northwest Smart Advice Newsletter
Would you like to receive twice monthly email updates about upcoming classes & events and community resources? 
U.S. Small Business Administration Permissions Policy
I request business consulting or training services from the SBA or an SBA resource partner.  I agree to cooperate should I be selected to participate in a short survey designed to evaluate SBA services. 
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Funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration

Funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration