The Matterhorn Project
The Matterhorn Project is an 18-month entrepreneur on-the-job training program for startup businesses.
"Sometimes only in change is there security."
Herb Kelleher, Co-Founder, Southwest Airlines
The Matterhorn Project helps people create a future for themselves
Entrepreneur training program reduces small-business risk


Today, people are facing a hard truth. Decent jobs are almost impossible to find, and the competition is beyond fierce. So why not take a highly motivated, life-experienced human being and teach them to run a business?

The Sacks Group has developed a unique entrepreneur training program to help people create a future for themselves. The Matterhorn Project is designed to eliminate much of the financial and emotional risk typically associated with opening a small business. It is a hands-on, day-to-day coaching and entrepreneurial training program that will enable you to start a small business while being trained by experts as you earn.

What is The Matterhorn Project?

The Matterhorn Project is an 18-month, entrepreneur training program that:

  • Significantly reduces the financial and emotional risk of starting a business.
  • Eliminates the trial and error responsible for the majority of small-business failures.
  • Speeds up the process of opening a business. You're open for business in only 6 months!
  • Saves money on startup costs because you get it right the first time.

How is It Different?

Two-thirds of all small businesses fail within the first few years of opening. But, if you think about it, anyone with a couple of bucks and some motivation can open a small business. Currently, there are no pre-requisites, no training period and no internship available for them.

Until now……

The Matterhorn Project is unlike any existing entrepreneur program because it:

  • Requires a curriculum and a lifestyle budget.
  • Audits your financial, personal and mental status to determine program suitability.
  • Determines the viability of your business idea.
  • Asks tough questions and provides tough answers.
  • Teaches you what questions to ask.
  • Demonstrates the proper execution of a business.
  • Turns away applicants in the event it is determined the program would not benefit them.
  • Holds your hand every step of the way.

All of these unique requirements help reduce the financial and emotional risk invested in startup companies and allows you to be confident of the success of your new venture.

Eliminate Trial and Error

The Sacks Group has been studying the unique challenges that face small businesses and is an authority on every aspect of small-business operation. Its principals have spent decades keeping small businesses out of trouble, and the company's success rate is well-documented. These insights have been captured in the book "The Twelve Commandments for Small Business; A Practical Guide to Beating the Odds," by Richard Sacks

The Sacks Group decided to create The Matterhorn Project after years of watching small-business owners make the same mistakes over and over. And the company realized that government-supported small-business programs continually fall short of helping startups survive their first few years of operation.

Realizing the profound failure rate among small businesses and having a concern for people who risk their lifesavings on a dream, The Sacks Group came up with a formula that, if followed, eliminates trial and error and guarantees a stable foundation for an otherwise risking undertaking. This formula, which has been working for clients for over a quarter century, offers the same high-demand small-business consulting and planning services provided to existing small-business owners.


The Matterhorn Project has three stages of advancement. At each stage, participants have the opportunity to drop the program or continue to the next stage:

  • Base Camp One: During the first three months of the program, participants are evaluated for suitability and qualification. Personal financial goals are established and intensive training begins.
  • Base Camp Two: The next three months of the program include developing a business plan, establishing a financial plan to open the business, meeting with site selectors and launching operations.
  • Advance to Summit: The first year after a business opens is its most vulnerable stage. During this period of execution, program participants obtain invaluable on-the-job training working in their company under the expert supervision of Matterhorn experts.

At the end of each threshold, a "go" or "no-go" decision is made based on the consensus of the trainers and the participants. Prescreening is extremely important and is continually performed as the tasks at each Base Camp progress. The goal is to begin Advance to Summit within six months of commencing Base Camp.

Base Camp One : Months 1-3

  • Personal Financial Review: The use of money throughout the period of the program has a direct impact on the likelihood of business success. Program participants will receive a personal financial review, one-on-one, with a specially trained professional.
  • Strategic Plan: A strategic plan is developed to guide the new business owner's financial expenditures during the 18 months. The participant is required to live on a mutually agreed upon lifestyle budget.
  • Immersion Course: Participants are required to attend a 14-hour immersion course based on the book "The Twelve Commandments for Small Business; a Practical Guide to Beating the Odds."

Base Camp Two: Months 4-6

  • Business Coach: Each participant is assigned a personal business coach who sticks with the new business owner throughout the program.
  • Business Plan: Utilizing The Sacks Group's exclusive "Guide to Practical Business Planning," the participant and his or her coach works out the details of the business plan, going through as many iterations until an acceptable and reasonable plan is derived.
  • Financing: The program structures the participants' finances in a manner that will be attractive to normal lenders, taking advantage of government assistance, guarantees and economic stimulus funding whenever possible.
  • Site Selection, Start up and Bookkeeping: The program works with real estate professionals to locate and negotiate space to fit the needs of the business plan. Plans are made for opening day, and the business opens with appropriate fanfare.

Advance to Summit: Months 7-18

You did it! You have opened the doors of your new business, but now you have to secure your position at the top.

The first year of a small business is critical to its survival. During this time, Matterhorn experts remain intimately involved with your business' financial stability as you obtain vital on-the-job training for running daily operations.

Participants in the program are REQUIRED to have their books and records maintained by the program for the entire 18-month period. This is absolutely mandatory and with NO EXCEPTION.

Why can't I use QuickBooks or a family member to help with bookkeeping?

We know from experience that bookkeeping is often the No. 1 cause of business failure. Accounting and bookkeeping is typically beyond the professional scope of most new business owners. The program employs highly qualified accounting and tax professionals. These professionals are essential to the program's success.


The Sacks Group makes it possible for small businesses to have the kind of high-level financial expertise usually afforded only by large businesses.

Business owners will be provided with monthly financial statements, including a plan to actual tracking. Statements will be reviewed by the coach and the business owner monthly, and revisions to the plan will be made if necessary. All business tax returns will be prepared by the program's professionals.

Personal returns are optional but strongly recommended because of the intimate relationship between personal and business finances.


The Matterhorn Project furnishes a carefully selected, highly qualified group of advisers. Any advice received from the panel is free of charge and without any obligation. However, if the adviser is asked to implement any advice, there is an additional charge negotiated between you and your adviser. Advisers and their expertise include:

Daniel G. O'Donnell
Stacia Peterson
Vice President – Commercial Banking
Fifth Third Bank
Sales Training
Donna Kastner
David Rosenwasser
Executive Director
St. Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau
Richard J. Sacks
The Sacks Group Inc.
Information Technology
Frank Polston
Special Markets Chief Operating Officer
EPC Inc.
Martha Kampen
The Kampen Co.
Public Relations
Kathleen T. Brady
KTB Public Relations
Dr. Rhonda Brown
Executive Coach
Monarch Network Group
General Management
Chuck Blossom
Chief Executive Officer
BCI Inc.
Quality Control
James Lang
Daniel Boehme
The Warren Group
Chris Coleman

Required Coursework

Eighteen, all-day seminars are scheduled exclusively for program participants on the 4th Wednesday of each month. Excessive absenteeism by a participant can result in being dropped from the program. The seminars are held in a comfortable location and lunch and snacks are furnished. Morning sessions are classroom style while afternoon sessions are in break-out groups. Late afternoon is reserved for one-on-one Q&A with instructors and social networking.

Topics include:

  • Using e-Bay Effectively in Your Business
  • Developing Compensation Programs that Increase Sales
  • Timely Updates on Legal and Tax Issues Effecting Microbusinesses

Upon completion of the program, a business will have finished an 18-month learning curve during which time he or she will have learned to successfully negotiate real-world obstacles. It is anticipated that program graduates will take their rightful place as community backbones and as a source of economic stability.

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