If you've always wanted to be your own boss, business training can help you become a successful entrepreneur. Courses that teach you how to run your own company can help you avoid common business pitfalls and surround you with a network of aspiring self-made professionals like yourself.
How much do entrepreneurs typically make? Can you attend small business school online? We'll take a look at the answers to these questions on this page, as well as discussing how to become an entrepreneur and sharing some information about the various levels of training available. Starting your own business takes a good plan and a lot of courage, but the right training can give you the confidence you need. Read on to learn more.
What Do Entrepreneurs Do?
There are as many job descriptions for entrepreneurs as there are types of business enterprise, which is to say that their specific day-to-day duties may not have a lot in common with one another. The general responsibilities of managing a business are fairly straightforward, however, and most entrepreneurs will find themselves attending to duties like these from time to time:
- Establishing policies, protocols and goals for your business
- Managing the general activities related to providing services or making products
- Negotiating with suppliers and buyers to craft favorable contracts and agreements
- Analyzing revenue and expenditure reports to monitor company performance
When you first start your business, chances are that you'll be filling multiple administrative roles yourself. You may be able to delegate certain duties to employees or other managers once you've gotten things moving and can begin hiring staff.
How to Become an Entrepreneur
Although there aren't typically any formal education requirements for becoming an entrepreneur, it's typically advisable to get at least some education and other types of support before charging ahead with your idea. Here's a time-tested series of steps that many budding entrepreneurs follow as they prepare to launch their businesses:
- Earn a high school diploma or an equivalency degree like the GED
- Locate the right entrepreneurial business school program and enroll
- Take courses in finance, accounting, business administration, management and economics
- Find a mentor, a partner or a professional association to help you move forward
Each small business school sets its own entrepreneurial curriculum, but there are some common business concepts that a good percentage of programs are likely to include. Here's a short list of courses you'll probably see on your schedule in entrepreneurial business school:
- Introductory accounting
- Principles of finance
- Principles of microeconomics
- Business law
- Business management
- Small business organization
- Principles of marketing
- Professional communication
Entrepreneurial Degree and Certificate Programs
The different levels of training available each have their own bright spots and downsides. Shorter programs may give you more of an introduction than an education, for example, while very thorough programs can take years to complete. Here's a breakdown of different types of training program for aspiring entrepreneurs:
- Undergraduate certificate. Certificate programs typically require less than one year of school, with some consisting of as few as 12 or 15 credit hours. These programs typically cover the basics of small business operation without going into great detail about the finer points.
- Associates degree. An associates degree in small business entrepreneurship can be completed in around two years of full-time study and usually contains enough business coursework to go beyond introductory learning. Two-year degree plans also provide some general education credits, which tend to transfer fairly easily if you decide to continue your education at a later time.
- Bachelor's degree. Most entrepreneurial bachelor's degrees take four or more years of full-time study to complete. They may offer a bit more depth of study than a typical associates degree in small business entrepreneurship, but those who are excited to get their ideas to market ASAP may not be comfortable with the longer time frame.
Graduate degrees in entrepreneurial business are also available and might be the right choice for someone who already has a bachelor's degree in a related business discipline. Certificate programs may also be offered at the graduate level, depending on the institution.
Online Entrepreneur Schools
Attending small business school online can be a great way to get an entrepreneurial education without being forced to take undue time away from your existing work or family responsibilities. Much of the coursework studied in small business programs translates well to the virtual classroom, and the entrepreneurial necessities of self-motivation and self-supervision are also essential to a successful online college career.
Another advantage of digital distance education is that you're often not limited to nearby schools. If you're interested in online entrepreneurial business school, search for a program that looks right for you and contact an online registrar or business advisor at the school of your choice to find out more.
Entrepreneurial Certifications and Licensure
In general, entrepreneurs don't need special certification or licensure to start their businesses. Businesses in certain industries or market segments may need to obtain permits or other regulatory documents before they're cleared to sell their wares to the public, however, so make sure you're aware of any permitting restrictions in your chosen field.
Career Advancement Options for Entrepreneurs
You're automatically the top executive in your company once you start a business, so where can you advance? There may not be a corporate ladder of titles for you to climb, but there's still quite a bit of room to grow as a company and increase your salary and your bottom line.
Reaching a wider customer base, networking with the right people and developing marketing strategies that help you beat the competition are all time-tested ways of advancing an entrepreneurial career. There's also the unstated goal of many a modern startup -- selling your company to an industry giant and walking away with millions -- which can advance your career all the way to early retirement.
Financial Aid for Entrepreneurship Programs
Skills and Abilities for Entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurial work is tough, and having the right set of skills and abilities can help you weather the day-to-day difficulties of working without a net in today's economy. Here's a list of some of the top traits for small business owners, according to the Occupational Information Network (O*NET):
- Time management is vital in small business ownership -- you'll often need to simultaneously coordinate schedules on daily, weekly and monthly timescales
- Written expression can be a great help when preparing documents for prospective clients or designing training materials for your first employees
- Systems analysis, or the ability to determine how systems work and the ways in which certain changes might affect them, can help you design good business strategies
- Persuasion can give you a leg up on your competition when it comes to landing big clients or closing favorable deals with suppliers
- Deductive reasoning provides a foundation from which you can use general or abstract concepts to come up with sensible answers when problems arise
Entrepreneurial Salary and Career Outlook
As you might expect, a huge range of variables go into determining an entrepreneur's income. It's true that you can set your own salary when you own the company, but how much you're able to afford to pay yourself can depend on factors like geography, brand exposure and consumer demand for the product or service you provide.
Even with such wide variance possible in entrepreneurial earnings, having some national average figures to use as a benchmark can give you some idea of what to expect. Here are some income and job outlook numbers for business management careers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Projected Job Growth
|Physical Therapist Assistants||96,840||$58,520||27.1%|
|Training and Development Managers||38,510||$123,470||8.1%|
|Property, Real Estate, and Community Association Managers||220,750||$71,720||7.3%|
|General and Operations Managers||2,400,280||$123,030||6.9%|
|Personal Service Managers, All Other; Entertainment and Recreation Managers, Except Gambling; and Managers, All Other||472,060||$118,710||6.3%|
Professional Resources for Entrepreneurs
Whether you're just starting out as an entrepreneur or trying to increase your business's reach, joining a professional association can help you navigate the challenges of being your own boss. Here are just a few of the groups available to entrepreneurs in the U.S.:
- Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) is a global network designed to provide members with peer-to-peer learning, leadership training and more. Benefits include access to local, regional and global events and a wealth of educational podcasts, webcasts and online courses.
- The Social Enterprise Alliance (SEA) is a group aimed at entrepreneurs whose companies focus on creating social good as well as turning a profit. SEA provides mentorship services, intensive fundraising education events and a job board where you can seek employees.
- The United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE) is the U.S. branch of the International Council for Small Business (ICSB). Members get subscriptions to two small business journals and an invitation to the USASBE annual conference, among other benefits.