What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

Thursday, May 12, 2011

“The most dangerous question is the one you don’t know exists,” says Gene Fairbrother, the lead micro-business consultant for NASE’s Business 101 program.

Fortunately you have hundreds of resources at your fingertips, either online or probably a short drive from your office.

Start with the NASE Succeed Scholarship™ program. These scholarships are designed to help NASE Members pay for continuing business education. Members can apply for a scholarship of up to $4,000. You can use the funds for continuing education through college courses, to attend training programs
for business certification and licensing, or to participate in conferences and seminars that will help you launch and grow your new business.

Another option for training is your local Chamber of Commerce. Also look into seminars and training workshops offered through industry trade associations and professional organizations.

Fairbrother recommends reading small-business books so you can find out what other entrepreneurs have done when starting their own businesses. Look for books “written by people who have already made the mistakes and learned how to succeed,” he says.

Another training aid high on Fairbrother’s list is your local college.

“Just about every college has continuing education courses for budding entrepreneurs that offer street-savvy knowledge,” Fairbrother says. “That knowledge will put you light-years ahead of the also-rans who think they can figure it out as they go.”

  • Sales training
  • Communications
  • Business management
  • Financing a business
  • Accounting and bookkeeping
  • Marketing
  • Human resources and personnel

Government training

The federal government also reaches out to help new entrepreneurs. The training services are usually available for free or at low cost.

U.S. Small Business Administration

The SBA offers free online courses that teach you the basics of starting and running a small business. You’ll find self-paced, easy-to-use courses dedicated to:

  • Starting a business
  • Managing a business
  • Financing a business
  • Contracting with the federal government
  • Disaster assistance
  • Exporting your products
  • And many more topics

The SBA website also features SBA Direct, an interactive tool that lets you personalize the type of information you get on the site.

You can customize your browsing of the SBA site according to your company’s geography, industry and needs. Using that information, SBA Direct delivers search results that are relevant to your business. The resulting information covers all aspects of operating a business, such as the steps involved in getting started or how to stay compliant with current regulations.

The SBA Direct feature gives you one-click access to the information you need. It even integrates content from Business.gov to include a variety of guides and tools that collate information from across government agencies. This integration not only helps you comply with laws and regulations, but also helps you take advantage of government programs.

You’ll also find interactive location-based maps that help you quickly locate small-business resources in your area, including local SBA offices and other sources of training and support.

Small Business Development Centers

Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) provide management assistance and educational services for small-business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. The centers are administered by the SBA and are partnerships between the government and colleges/universities.

SBDCs offer one-stop assistance at branch locations in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia. Services include assisting small-business owners with:

  • Marketing
  • Financial
  • Feasibility studies
  • Production
  • Organization
  • Technical issues

Public Seminars

Many private, for-profit groups offer seminars and workshops for business owners. The seminars address topics from communications and marketing to startup financing and networking.

You’ll find the seminars in major cities across the country. Fees range from under $100 for a half-day workshop to thousands of dollars for a multiple-day seminar.

Here are a few places to look for workshops and seminars.

  • National Seminars Training
    Find seminars geared for many different industries and professions. You can search by your ZIP code or by seminar category.
  • SeminarInformation.com
    Research and register for hundreds of seminars, workshops and training sessions on every conceivable area of small-business management.
  • American Management Association
    Explore a wide range of management seminars for members and nonmembers. The association also offers webcasts, webinars and live online seminars.
  •  Learning Tree International
    Find seminars focusing on management and technology.


The NASE can help

Educate yourself about business ownership with these articles from the NASE:

To print, click here to download the full Startup Kit.