Washington State is committed to helping its small businesses grow. One way to do that is to help business leaders get over the inevitable hump that occurs in the second stage of a company’s life. Typically, businesses at this stage know that they need to grow, they just don’t know how, where or when.

Developed in partnership with the Edward Lowe Foundation, Washington’s Thrive! program is designed to reduce this risk while increasing the potential for growth by engaging business specialists from throughout the country to help a company more fully understand its strengths, challenges, and most importantly, opportunities. Historically, companies typically experience a 15% to 30% increase in revenues as a result of this type of second-stage program.

At its core is a group of highly specialized professionals who serve as your virtual research team. Working together with the company’s management team, they provide analysis on a range of topics such as core strategy, market dynamics, qualified sales leads, innovation, operations, finance, human resources and temperament.

Leveraging sophisticated tools and analytics that are not usually available to second-stagers, the team functions like an adjunct research staff, providing CEOs with information to make better decisions about critical issues. Researchers show second-stagers the big picture so they can make necessary adjustments that lead to increased growth and profitability.



What are second-stage growth companies?

  • Private, for-profit companies that have been operating in a Washington State community for at least two years.
  • Employ between 6 and 99 employees.
  • Generate $1 million to $25 million in annual revenue.
  • Have both an appetite and aptitude to grow.
  • Provide products and services beyond the local area.

Who would be an ideal candidate?

The head of the company may feel that the company has gotten away from them, that they can’t keep up with it all or that once efficient processes aren’t working well anymore. They may need additional help, but not know what the priorities should be. A sales funnel may be in place but it is not as full of prospects as it should be or leads aren’t turning into sales. The capacity is there, but the business isn’t. Or there may be opportunities for expansion, but where and how?

What are the benefits of going through the program?

Thrive! allows you to:

  • Identify market trends, potential competitors and unknown resources.
  • Map geographic areas for targeted marketing.
  • Improve decision making, core strategies and business model through competitive, actionable intelligence.
  • Increase visibility in search engine results, track websites, blog and online communities to understand competitors as well as current and potential programs.
  • Assess and align staffing, achieve financial mastery and address operational or supply chain issues.
  • Engage in international trade activities.
  • Address issues related to strategic planning, succession planning and disaster resiliency.

How much time do I need to commit?

We know you already have your hands full so we do a lot of the work behind the scenes. Your participation will require about 8 1/2 hours of your time over a period of 4 to 6 weeks. All of your interactions are via phone or our online Thrive! portal.

How does the program work?

  • The team leader conducts an initial assessment with the President or CEO. This call lasts between 1 and 1 1/2 hours.
  • The President or CEO collaborates with a team of researchers who are assigned to the project, based on the initial needs assessment.
  • The research team conducts additional research, based on a SWAT call that defines the work to be performed and the deliverables.
  • Findings are reviewed in a call with the President or CEO along with an action plan.
  • The President or CEO has the option of participating in an Aftercare program to support implementation and encourage accountability.
  • The entire program takes between six and nine weeks from start to finish and includes about 33 hours of consultant time.

What are the deliverables?

  • Identification of critical industry trends, current and new competitors and implementation of underutilized resources.
  • Enhanced visibility in new media and web traffic, including improved search engine rankings.
  • Improved tracking of digital information and online communications to improve knowledge of customers and competitors.
  • Improved operational efficiencies related to human resources, finances and other internal issues.
  • Timely data that can be used to shape core strategies and future decision-making in order to better respond to the dynamic market encountered by the business.

Who are the targeted businesses?

Any second-stage company meeting the basic qualifications is encouraged to apply. Priority may be given to qualifying targeted businesses that meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Located in underserved counties based on the latest employment security department designation.
  • Based in rural counties based on a combination of Census Bureau and Office of Financial Management related data and definitions.
  • Based in counties that may suffer significant transitions as a result of the military downsizing.
  • Qualify as women, minority or veteran-owned business.

What does it cost?

The total cost of the Thrive! program is $4,275. The Department of Commerce offers scholarships to qualifying companies to offset much of this cost.


Ready to apply?

Thrive! will be offered in the fall of 2019. If you are interested in applying, please email us and we will notify you when the program is ready to accept applications.

Success Stories

Bite Me, Inc.

Deborah Tuggle operates two all-natural, organic cookie companies: Friday’s Cookies, a gourmet line, and Bite Me! Inc., which provides baked shortbread cookies and frozen dough balls for baking. Read the Case Study.

SCJ Alliance

A Lacey-based planning and engineering firm, SCJ Alliance entered Washington’s second-stage program in June 2016. Read the Case Study.

Washington Vision Therapy Center

The Yakima-based company, which generates more than $1 million in annual revenue, entered the program looking for help with expansion efforts. Read the Case Study.

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