Available Classes

Small business entrepreneurs learn about marketing, finance, cash flow, and other business fundamentals.
Photo by Meta Mesdag

Stay up-to-date by signing up for our newsletter!
Like us on FacebookStay up to date and receive our tweets.Subscribe to our Classes and Events RSS Feed.

Foundations I:  Start Smart

A six-week course that covers the core competencies needed to start a small business.

Foundations II: The Next Level for Your Business 

A four-week advanced workshop building on your business skills, using your own business as the textbook.

Write Your Business Plan 

A four-week class focused on the completion of your business plan.  See below for requirements.



Foundations I
Start Your Business the Right Way
This essential six-week course covers the necessary basics for launching a small business. Topics covered include marketing, cash flow operations, business registration, credit and many other essential things to know to succeed in the first year of business. Our interactive format empowers students to apply concepts learned in class directly to their business. Click here for Course Outcomes.

Small business concepts taught in this course include how to…

  • Determine the appropriate legal status for your business.
  • Obtain the correct licenses and permits.
  • Calculate start-up costs, unit of sale, profit margins,  break-even point, and pricing window.
  • Analyze your competition.
  • Identify target markets and create a marketing plan.

As part of the coursework, you will analyze your competition, set pricing, conduct a focus group for your product or service, and build the confidence needed to turn an idea into reality. All classwork and homework will provide the information necessary for your business plan.

Cost:  $175 (partial scholarships available)

2015 Class Schedule

    Off-Site Courses

    East Portland locations coming in 2015.



    Foundations ll
    The Next Level for Your Business

    Our Next Level Business Workshop is designed for owners who are ready to grow their businesses, be more efficient and generate additional revenue. This four-week course provides the focus you need to explore business fundamentals more deeply, specifically as it relates to your day-to-day challenges and opportunities. Students use their own businesses as a case study in this four-week series of action-oriented classes. Classes are half the size of our Business Foundations I classes for more individualized attention and effective hands-on learning.

    This workshop is designed for business owners looking for assistance in the following areas:

    • Changing business processes to increase your capacity as both owner and manager
    • Converting sales opportunities into repeat customers
    • Introducing new products or finding a new target market
    • Scheduling your time, and focusing on revenue generating tasks
    • Defining your sales process and calculating projections
    • Keeping up with demand while expanding strategically
    • Telling customers your story
    • Receiving support from other business owners with similar challenges

    Additionally, it’s for business owners who:

    • Have one year of revenue
    • Are willing to commit to four weekly sessions and 3-4 hours of research and business development activities each week
    • Are ready to participate with and support other business owners
    • Are ready to see changes take place in their business

    Click here for Course Outline.

    Cost:  $200 (scholarships not available)

    2015 Open Sections: (classes open for registration two months prior)

  • Tuesdays 5-8pm beginning May 19 - Registration Open
  • Mondays 5-8pm beginning August 3 - Registration Opens June 3, 2015
  • Mondays 4-7pm beginning October 6 - Registration Opens August 6, 2015
  • What do our Foundations II graduates have to say?

    Next Level Business Workshops are a perfect chance for the harried small business owner to take a deep breath and focus on breaking down their biggest challenges step by step. The class is very self-guided, almost like a small business therapy session. The questions and evaluations asked in the class require you to get a handle on your details and collect honest information about where you stand in your business and how you’re spending your time and money, what your costs really look like, who your customers are and use that information to set a roadmap for increased success.

    If you’re running a business and putting your paperwork on the backburner, or feel like you’re always doing a million things but not getting where you need to be, and you haven’t stopped to thoroughly take stock of what’s happening and how to change course, this workshop is a great opportunity to assess your strengths and weaknesses, and set off in the right direction with new resolve.

    - Brian Watson, Sick String Guitar

    Portland Custom Shop 1115 SE Morrison, Portland OR 97214

    Mercy Corps Northwest hosts the only Women’s Business Center in Oregon, providing funds and other resources to help entrepreneurs become self-sufficient.



    Write Your Business Plan
    Making Your Small Business a Reality

    Over the course of four weeks, you’ll take your business plan from first draft to completion with the help of an instructor and a small group of peer entrepreneurs. As a hands-on workshop, students are required to bring either a laptop and/or hard copies of their business plan to work on in class.

    Haven’t started? You’ll receive a basic template prior to class to get you going. For those with existing drafts, bring your most recent copy. Expect 3-4 hours of homework per week as you research, write and refine your business plan. This course is best suited for individuals who have completed Business Foundations I.

    Upcoming Classes

  • Mondays 5-8pm beginning June 8 - Registration Open
  • Mondays 5-8pm beginning September 14 - Registration Opens July 14, 2015
  • Mondays 5-8pm beginning November 2 - Registration Opens September 2, 2015


What other students say

I really grew my vision and my own confidence as an entrepreneur in this class. I walked in quite fearful of how much work it was going to take to start my business. I walked out with so much knowledge and a clear understanding of what I need to do. I am so grateful to have found Mercy Corps Northwest, and I will definitely be staying in touch to do more. Excellent!

I appreciate that the class was so engaging. If all my instructors in school had been as helpful and enthusiastic, I would have done much better. I truly enjoyed this class and feel like I can succeed.

The teachers were excellent, and the course was well-designed. I felt like my money and time were well spent.

Cancellation Policy
In order to receive a full refund, you must cancel your enrollment one week prior the start of the Foundations class. No refunds will be issued within one week of the start date of the Foundations class.

Need to make up a class?
Please be aware that you cannot miss more than two classes of Foundations 1. If you miss two or fewer, you may make them up by finding an open course.