By Amelia Gray
When you're thinking of going out on your own to open a small business, it's probably wise to take a few minutes away from dreaming up business schemes to consider the hard facts. A recent report by Dun & Bradstreet found that small business failure rates have increased 40 percent between 2007 and 2010, with states such as California, Nevada and New Hampshire leading the way. If you want your business idea to succeed in a challenging climate, knowledge and training are your best tools.
The fastest road to understanding your business future
Carol Roth, author of The New York Times bestseller "The Entrepreneur Equation," agrees. "Training helps you decide if entrepreneurship is right for you and if you are right for it," she says, remembering a client who wanted to start a fast food franchise without having ever worked in the restaurant industry. After some training and a hands-on job at a restaurant, the woman realized she had no desire for the real-world challenges of food service. In the end, this woman learned that a little education goes a long way.
Outsource your education with virtual training
Outsourcing might seem like a bad word in business, but all it means is pulling in outside resources to easily complete something you'd otherwise have to do on your own. Patti DeNucci, owner of Austin, Texas-based consulting firm DeNucci & Co. and author of "The Intentional Networker: Attracting Powerful Relationships, Referrals & Results in Business," speaks to the value of outsourcing your training. "Don't try to teach yourself everything or struggle through the learning curve," she says. "It will waste valuable time and it will drive you crazy."
At online business colleges, training can be customized to your needs. Take a look at a few pillars of business that are covered in small business training:
The list goes on from there, and further specialization is possible. If you already have business training but you want to take your company abroad, international business training offers a targeted education in skills you might not yet have.
Mix personality with experience
Once you know you have the passion to succeed in the specialized world of small business, entrepreneurship training and degree programs can help give you the technical skill. From brief coursework and certification programs to advanced MBA degrees, instruction is focused on giving you the skills and know-how you need to grow your great idea into a small business.
The holiday season may provide the perfect analogy for personality driven small business success. "[Small business leaders] need to be more Santa Claus than an elf," Roth says. "If they are visionary in scope, they will be well suited for entrepreneurship like Santa is. If they identify more with the role of execution and wanting specific instructions like an elf, they will struggle as an entrepreneur."
Networking paves the way for business success
Small businesses grow with community contacts and local partnerships. But while you might be tempted to head to the Web to build your brand, social media can both help and hurt your professional prospects. "If you want some insight on how current or potential employers view you, try Googling yourself," writes Aimee Hosler in her exploration of social media in business. A typical business communication course can help you learn marketing basics and might cover the following helpful topics:
- Branding and social media
- Developing elevator pitches
- Identifying prospective employees
- Interviewing and networking techniques
- Growing client references
DeNucci makes the point that, despite the difficulty of networking, it's an essential aspect of the small business community. "It's so easy for small business owners to feel isolated and alone and to end up working constantly and wearing blinders," she says. "It's important to get out and meet new people, learn from each other, share best practices and industry news, and to help lead each other to more business solutions, ideas, resources and possibilities."
Once you have the tools to get out of your home office and into your local business community, you benefit from experience all around you. Heading back to school offers another opportunity to benefit from the experience of others when you get a chance to work in groups, collaborate and further develop your insight into the wide world of entrepreneurship.
Use education to take a first step into the small business world
Roth summarizes the need for training when it comes to owning and running a business: "When you start a business, take the time to prepare before you invest your time, money and effort." While it's not easy to start a small business, it can signify the fulfillment of a lifelong goal. With education as your foundation, the local business community as your guide, and hard work as your daily practice, small business success becomes a simpler equation in any business climate.
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