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Business Owners Need to be Lifelong Learners

Friday, October 05, 2012

by Kelly Weaver, Small Business Development Center Regional Director

Each of us has a need for continuing education no matter what profession we are in. For small business owners, this need is heightened. There are so many things a business owner needs to know and so many demands on your time. It's not likely the boss (i.e., you) is going to send you off to a week-long training session. Fortunately, the Internet is a great source of information available 24/7 whenever your schedule allows - even if it's between midnight and 2 a.m. Online training comes in various shapes and sizes ranging from an electronic work, a talking slide presentation, to a streaming video of a live presentation. There is a good deal of courses suitable for business owners who have not had formal business training and for the rest who could use a reminder. Here are a few connections to online training courses:

Bank of America Small Business Resource Center
Here you'll find free interactive workshops that provide you with the know-how to establish and run a successful business. Each workshop provides real world business strategies and industry knowledge from entrepreneurs who have succeeded. Topics include Developing a Business Plan, Identify Your Target Market, Analyze Your Competition, Managing Your Finances, Analyze Profitability, Cash Flow, Building Your Brand, Advertising Your Business, and Promoting Your Business.

SBA's Online Training
Last, but certainly not least, the Small Business Administration offers a virtual campus housing free training courses, workshops and knowledge resources designed to assist entrepreneurs and other students of enterprise. In addition to the small business topics covered above, the resources address such topics as International Trade, Financing, Government Contracting, Risk Management, and E-Commerce. The site also provides a link to small business training offered by other Federal agencies and various small business tools.

My Own Business
This website offers a 14-part course on starting a business. There is a free online version as well as upgrades for a fee which include things like a textbook and certification. In addition to the basic chapters you would expect, this course also includes chapters on Computer Tools, Location and Leasing, Buying a Business or Franchise, and Expansion and Problems.

Internal Revenue Service's Small Business Self-Employed
By clicking on the Online Classroom you can partake in training on various topics including payroll taxes, retirement accounts, hiring employees and contractors, etc. These are all excellent topics for both startup and existing businesses. It introduces new small business owners and self-employed entrepreneurs to IRS tax law in an easy-to-understand format.

This is just a sampling of the available information, all from reputable sources. For industry specific training, you may find a trade association in your industry that offers training online. Need to round out your business knowledge? These are a few good places to start.

Kelly Weaver is the Regional Director of the Small Business Development Center in Aberdeen which offers free, confidential business consulting to start up and existing businesses. She can be reached at (605) 626-2565 or Email » The Center is hosted by Northeast South Dakota Community Action Program.

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