ONLINE - Business Foundations I | Southern Washington | Wednesdays, beginning November 3

Classroom of adult students

Session overview

The cost of  this Business Foundations 1 class is covered by local funders and supporters of Mercy Corps Northwest’s Southern Washington Office. This class is only open to individuals whose businesses are physically located in Clark, Cowlitz, or Skamania counties in Washington. 

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

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 I 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: Define what a focus group is, complete an overhead cost sheet for your business, and conduct a competition analysis.
  • Week 4 – Market Analysis: Understanding market research, your target market & competition, pricing strategy & free market research tools
  • Week 5 – Marketing  and Product Pricing: Continue to understand market research, your target market & competition, and pricing strategy. In this class you will begin incorporating aspects of the business plan to put into practice.
  • Week 6 – Profit & Loss and Developing a Business Plan: Learn how to develop and business plan and discuss the importance of the Profit & Loss Statement.

By the end of week 6 all 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 I 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. November 3
  2. November 10
  3. November 17
  4. November 24
  5. December 1
  6. December 8

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!”


This event is proudly hosted by Oregon Women’s Business Center at Mercy Corps Northwest, funded in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration, City of Vancouver, Clark County, and Community Foundation for Southwest Washington.

The cost of  this Business Foundations 1 class is covered by local funders and supporters of Mercy Corps Northwest’s Southern Washington Office. This class is only open to individuals whose businesses are physically located in Clark, Cowlitz, or Skamania counties in Washington. If you have questions, please contact the Southern Washington office at

Register for this event

If you heard about the this program from another organization or source not listed, please specify. 

Business information

What industry is your business in?
What phase is your business in?
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?

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.

Does your business have any employees?

(Not including yourself)

(Including yourself)
(Including yourself)
Max length: 500 characters

Demographic information

Because Mercy Corps Northwest is a federally-funded non-profit, we are required to report demographic information for our small business clients. Thank you for taking the time to complete the following questions.
What pronouns do you use?
What pronouns do you use?
Do you identify as LGBTQ+?
Are you Hispanic?
Race/Ethnicity (Check all that apply)
Do you live with a disability?
Are you employed part time or full time by someone else (meaning outside your business)?
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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