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Small Business Success Index 4

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For Business Success, Go Back to School

October 15th, 2010 :: Rieva_L

By Karen Axelton

What can going back to school teach you about running a better business? Plenty. And it doesn’t have to mean dropping everything to enroll full-time. Here’s a quick look at the many options available.

Entrepreneurship education. More and more colleges these days (over 700 nationwide) offer degrees in entrepreneurship. And recognizing how busy real business owners are, many of them have classes at nights and on weekends. If you don’t want to take a full course of classes, you can brush up on subjects like accounting, or using business software such as Excel, by taking classes at community colleges or through adult education programs.

Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs). A partnership between the government, private sponsors and educational institutions, SBDCs are one-stop centers where business owners can get free counseling and assistance to improve their businesses. SBDC Business Advisors—in many cases, current or former entrepreneurs themselves—work with you to pinpoint problems and opportunities in your business and coach you through to reach your goals. Visit the SBA’s online SBDC locator to find an SBDC in your area.

Help going global. Global business is a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs. If you’re currently doing business internationally—or just considering it—contact colleges or universities near you to see if they have an exporting education center. Exporting centers provide training and education for entrepreneurs who are interested in or currently exporting.

Class project. Many colleges’ entrepreneurship programs or business schools have students work on real-life projects with local businesses as part of their education. You could get business students to assess your marketing strategy, or find a graphic design student to create a new brand image for your website. Talk to nearby schools to see what options exist.

Ask the professor. Students aren’t the only ones at colleges that you can enlist to help you. Often, business professors do consulting on the side—and their prices may be lower than other consultants, especially if they combine the work with using your business as a class project. Many professors are former or current business owners, as well, so they’re not just offering advice from the ivory tower.

Image by Flickr user Michael Oh (Creative Commons)

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