Many small business owners who never went to business school feel at a loss when they're trying to assess their companies' finances, managing their staffers or marketing their products or services. There are many resources available for those who want to get a grounding in business basics, including many courses that are free or low-cost:
— The Small Business Administration has free 30-minute online courses on topics including the basics of accounting and marketing and how to write a business plan or prepare a loan application. The courses, which can be taken at any time, also address how to seek government contracts and how to apply for government programs aimed at helping women- and minority-owned businesses. You can the courses at www.sba.gov/course .
— SCORE, the organization that gives free counseling to small businesses, also has online courses that can be taken at any time. The topics include starting, managing and building a business. Some of the courses are offered in Spanish. You can find them at www.score.org .
— MOOC, EdX and Coursera are affiliated online services that offer courses across the academic spectrum. The courses are given by some of the country's top business schools as well as private companies like IBM and Amazon. The offerings range from the basic to the highly technical and focused, including how to work with specific software programs. Many courses are free, but users can also pay a fee for some studies to get certification. You can access the courses at www.mooc.org and www.edx.org .
— Many colleges offer non-degree classes, and some schools that host SBA-sponsored Small Business Development Centers have free or low-cost classes; the courses can be in-person or online. Do a search for "SBDCD" and the topic you're interested in and you'll see schools that offer the courses. SBDCs also offer free counseling. To find one in your area, visit www.sba.gov and click on "Local Assistance."
— Some owners decide they'd like to take the plunge and obtain their MBAs, not an easy task when trying to run a business. But many colleges and universities offer part-time and/or online MBA programs that allow owners to study long-distance and at a slower pace than traditional on-campus programs. And some of the schools don't require applicants to take the Graduate Management Admission Council, or GMAT, exam.
Follow Joyce Rosenberg at www.twitter.com/JoyceMRosenberg . Her work can be found here: https://apnews.com