There are many things to know about building a successful small business-from marketing and tax issues, to technology, finance, human resources management and more. Most entrepreneurs don’t have expertise in all of those areas. That’s why individuals interested in starting or expanding a business have been tapping into training programs at a record pace.
For many business owners, learning opportunities and training programs are becoming vital steps to planning, launching and growing a business. During one recent 12-month period, a record 2.5 million people sought help from one of many U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) training and assistance programs.
Seeking help is simply smart. No business owner can be adept at every aspect of operating successfully. Plus, conditions change, so keeping yourself informed is vital to long-term success.
The single most popular program in America is probably the SBA Small Business Training Network/E-Business Institute, which registers nearly a million users at its Web site each year. The Small Business Training Network is a Web-based conglomerate that can link you to online courses, workshops, publications, learning tools, information resources and access to electronic counseling and other types of technical help.
Free online courses are offered on about 75 topics in areas such as business startup, growing your business, home-based business and re-engineering your skills. Sample titles include: Growth Strategies; Analyzing Profitability; Building Your Brand; and, Understanding Business Insurance.
Local SBA-sponsored training events are offered nationwide. These range from breakfast talks on local economic conditions, to brown-bag networking lunches, loan seminars, startup workshops and free business assessments. Click your state on the Web site map for a calendar listing dates and event details in your area. In addition, dozens of top colleges and universities offer business training courses you can take online. Most of these require a fee.
SCORE Chicago also offers inexpensive workshops to help you start or grow your business. We have a basic certificate series and special workshops on topics like global trade, internet marketing and franchising. Check our website www.scorechicago.org for details on our workshops or resources on topics of interest.
SCORE also offers online training, and courses are groups in three areas:
Starting Your Business
Developing a Business Plan
Conducting a Marketing Analysis
Analyze your Competition
Targeting Your Market
Maintaining an Agile Company
Creating a Competitive Advantage
Creating a Strategic Plan
Determining Your Business Legal Structure
Protecting Your Business with Patents, Copyrights, and Trademarks
Managing Your Finances
Preparing a Cash Budget
Preparing a Balance Sheet
Managing Your Cash Flow
Running a Profitable Company
Creating a Profit and Loss Statement
Analyzing Your Financial Ratios
Protecting Your Business with Contracts
Assessing Your Company’s Financial Needs
Partners and Investors
Valuing a Business
Foundations of Marketing
Pricing Products and Services
Building Your Brand
Promoting Your Business
Advertising Your Business
Building a Web Site
Personalization Strategies to Attract and Retain Customers
Identifying Your Sales Strategy
SBDC Training Program
The Arkansas Small Business and Technical Development Center offers online training classes for small business for $30 each.
Professional and Trade Association Training, and Corporate Webinars
Many coporations, trade associations and even the IRS also offer online courses and webinars. The IRS has even done a series of training videos. Companies are using webinars to educate potential clients and generate leads. For example here are one firm’s series of webinars on search engine optimization of a website. YouTube has many training videos, too. Click this link for list of 100 webmaster videos on web-related subjects.
To learn more about training opportunities for your small business, contact SCORE. SCORE Chicago is a nonprofit organization of more than 100 volunteer business counselors who provide free, confidential business counseling and training workshops to entrepreneurs and small business owners. You can set up an appointment at one of our 15 locations by clicking this link. Call 312-353-7724 for further information.