Managing a small business can be rewarding, but it is also challenging. Whether you are running your own business or you have been hired to manage a small business owned by someone else, you'll find yourself fulfilling many roles, performing numerous tasks, and multitasking on a daily basis. Attending courses to improve your knowledge can be beneficial.
Small Business Workshop and Seminars
Attending individual courses can be a convenient way to get training on the topics important to small business owners. The Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offer a number of free or very low cost options, both online and in person.
SBA Online Courses
The SBA has a variety of free, self-paced online courses available via the SBA Learning Center. More than 50 topics are available, and you can work through the online training modules any time you want as long as you have a computer and internet access.
Several of the classes (but not all) are specific to SBA programs for entrepreneurs, such as HUBZone, Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB), 8(a) certification, All Small Mentor-Protégé, and more. More general topics are available covering subjects like marketing, starting or buying a small business, financing options, sales, strategic planning, and much more.
SBA Local Assistance
The SBA also has local offices throughout the United States. Each one offers a variety of services to help support small business owners, including courses focused on helping them manage their companies effectively. Enter your zip code or click your state on the map featured on the SBA Local Assistance page to find out what is available in or near your home base. Some workshops are also published on the SBA Events Calendar, but not every local group lists their activities there so it is best to check with the offices in your local area.
Topics and schedules will vary based on region, but all of their programs will be developed based on the interests of small business owners. As a few examples, take a look at what the Maryland Small Business Development Center (SBDC), the Tennessee SBDC, and the Penn State SBDC have to offer.
IRS Small Business Tax Workshops
Keeping up with income tax requirements is an important aspect of managing a small business. Even if you have an employee or consultant who handles tax matters for you, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with tax requirements through formal training.
The IRS sponsors "small business workshops, seminars and meetings, designed to help the small business owner understand and fulfill their federal tax responsibilities." These training programs are held at various locations throughout the country. Visit their Small Business Tax Workshops and Seminars page to find out when the next sessions will be held in your area.
They also offer a free virtual workshop for small business owners you can complete online. It is designed to help clarify tax obligations for new entrepreneurs so they will understand and be able to comply with what is required.
Entrepreneurship Boot Camps
If you'd rather take a more intensive approach to getting the training you need, consider attending a boot camp program designed just for entrepreneurs. These programs are typically made available through institutions of higher learning that have faculty members with expertise in entrepreneurship. They last several days, and in-person attendance is required. These programs are fee-based; prices can vary significantly.
A few examples include:
- Babson College: Ranked as the United States' top school for entrepreneurship for more than two decades, Babson College in Massachusetts offers a five-day Entrepreneur's boot camp program. It is designed as "a deep dive for new entrepreneurs," though it can also be beneficial to "seasoned entrepreneurs looking to develop their next big idea" and executives who are "seeking to galvanize their workplace with entrepreneurial thinking." It focuses on how to construct your business model, feasibility, market fit, and how to "successfully articulate your ideas and vision." The program costs nearly $5,000.
- Community College of Aurora: With a much different price point of $40 per workshop ($280 for the full program), the Community College of Aurora offers a small business boot camp that features seven workshops. You can attend individual sessions or take all of the classes for the full program. Topics covered include starting a new business, writing a business plan, managing a small business, legal aspects, financing, record keeping, and marketing. If you complete all courses, you will earn a certificate of completion.
Check with colleges, universities, and community colleges in your area to see what kind of programs might be available nearby.
If you're open to completing a longer-term training program, you might want to consider enrolling in a diploma or degree program specific to small business management. A few examples include:
- Penn Foster Career School: This fully online program leads to a Small Business Management Career Diploma and can be completed "in as little as three months," depending on the pace at which you move through the program. The full program costs less than $700 if you make monthly payments. If you pre-pay, the cost is significantly less ($559). You'll complete courses in all aspects of starting, planning for, marketing, and operating a small business.
- Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU): If you're interested in going even further with your studies, considering enrolling in a full degree program focused on small business. SNHU offers a B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Small Business Management. You can complete the full program online. It requires 120 credit hours of study, and tuition is $320 per credit hour. The curriculum includes the university's core curriculum, general business classes, and topics of special interest to entrepreneurs (such as Business Plan Preparation, Small Business Management, Entrepreneurship, and more).
Lay the Groundwork for Success
The key to being a successful small business owner or manager lies with recognizing and knowing how to manage or effectively delegate the myriad tasks necessary to build and maintain a successful operation. Of course, the options provided here represent only a small portion of what is available. In addition to checking with the SBA office closest to you, the local Chamber of Commerce is also a good place to start when you are looking for local courses, as well as identify what colleges, universities and community colleges are in your area. With so many training options available, you don't have to figure everything out on your own. Take appropriate courses to help acquire the knowledge and master the skills that you need.