Sharing Our Outcomes

September 30, 2016

Ventures’ 2016 Outcomes Survey

Each year Ventures conducts a survey to measure the long-term outcomes of our program and we are committed to sharing our outcomes with you. We want to know how are clients are doing two years after completing our cornerstone eight-week Business Development Training (BDT). Are they still in business? Did their household financial situation improve? How did Ventures’ training impact their lives?

This summer, we surveyed 300 graduates of the BDT, from two and four years in the past, to see how clients’ lives changed over time. Our survey was conducted primarily online, with opportunities for clients to complete the survey over the phone if they had limited internet access. Survey administration was conducted with support from intern Sam Gil-Vargas, a University of Washington student. Sam lent her skills in data analysis, user-centered design, and Spanish language fluency to ensure that the survey process went smoothly and that we received accurate and timely responses.

All clients who completed the survey received a $20 gift card, and additional raffle prizes were donated by Panera Bread, Cash & Carry, and Metropolitan Market. Two lucky clients also won a refurbished laptop featuring Microsoft Office. Ventures graduate Lancer Forney of Emerson Salon was one of the lucky winners.

The survey had a 24% response rate. We compared the results of the survey with information from clients’ intake application to see how their business and household situations had changed. Our key findings include:

  • Two thirds of clients who were below the Federal poverty line have moved out of poverty
  • 30% of clients who started the BDT without a business have launched a business two years later
  • 83% who had a business at intake are still in business
  • Median business revenues nearly doubled: from $8,000 to $15,672
  • 22% of business hired employees, with an average of 2 employees
  • 51% had increased their household income, with the median increase from $24,624 to $29,400
  • Unemployment fell by 50%
  • Of clients who chose a wage job instead of self-employment 90% felt that Ventures contributed their success in their current position

At 83%, the two-year business survival rate of Ventures’ clients is three points higher than the national average of 80%[1]. More impressively, the national average is comprised of entrepreneurs from all income brackets, whereas Ventures only serves individuals with low incomes and limited access to traditional small business resources.

The results of this survey to indicate that our program contributes to improve business and household financial outcomes for clients. Where we see low results reminds us that Ventures is working with vulnerable and low-income populations. For example, after two years, clients’ median household income had increased to $29,400, 50% of the King County area median income. Self-employment, and Ventures’ program, is just one component that contributes to individuals’ improved circumstances.

Overall, 95% rated their Ventures experience positively. Additionally, despite relatively low business revenues, 74% of Ventures clients report that their business income met or somewhat met their expectations.

Ventures staff and Board will use the information from this outcomes survey to make data driven decisions as we plan our programming for 2017.  To view a full report summary, click here.

[1] Bureau of Labor Statistics