FORWARD FEST: From Side Hustle to Small Business

This no-cost session is being hosted as part of Forward Fest 2023! Learn more about all of the sessions offered for entrepreneurs – and register for the full Forward Fest event – at

Click here for directions on how to sign up for your FREE Forward Festival pass! All SBDC-hosted sessions are offered at no cost with this pass option; other events may charge to attend.


Have you been thinking about turning your hobby into a business, but aren’t sure where to start?  Do you have a side hustle that’s grown and you want to explore next steps? Are you interested in learning more about how to explore a business idea you have?  This session will teach you how to use a visual business planning tool call the Business Model Canvas. This tool will help you understand how 9 functional areas of business work together to create a model of operation that can help you determine whether it is time to take the leap to full-time.  The class will also give you information about resources and next steps.


Location: Online (link will be sent out shortly before the class date)

Dates:  TBD (part of Forward Fest)

Fee: This course is being offered at no cost. Participants must reserve a Forward Fest pass (available at no cost) to register, and must register ahead of time for the event. The registration page includes several ticket options, including a Free Events Forward Pass; all SBDC events are accessible with this pass.

Register for Forward Fest here

Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. Contact the UW-Madison SBDC office at to request accommodations or to ask general questions about the SBDC, classes and consulting.

We appreciated the presentation of the Business Model Canvas as a tool for helping us map out a business plan in a visual way.

- Christy Nesja, Nesja Press

[This session] gave me more confidence that I'm moving in the right direction.

– Sarah Ripp

Meet the Presenter

Michelle Somes-Booher has experience in business planning, lean start-up, marketing, financial and operational strategy. In addition to serving as director, she also sees clients and works primarily with established businesses. She assists clients in improving operations, increasing sales, and incorporating sound financial practices as they grow. Her clients have been featured on Shark TankThe White House Demo DaysWI Governor’s Business Plan Competition, SBA National Showcase and spotlighted in numerous local, state and national publications.  Michelle was named the WI SBDC State Star in 2020.

She has also co-created a free online course called First Steps to Starting a Business, the COVID response guide Navigating the New Normal and lead the reimaging and standardization of the statewide signature training course, the Entrepreneurial Training Program. She understands what it takes to grow a successful business, as she has four generations of entrepreneurs in her family and has also owned her own small business.  Furthermore, she has significant experience in teaching entrepreneurship and management in higher and continuing education. Michelle holds a BSBA in Management and Interpersonal and Public Communication, as well as a MBA from Central Michigan University.

The Wisconsin SBDC Network is a proud part of the Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship in the University of Wisconsin System.
It is funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.