A whopping 27 million working-age Americans are starting and running new businesses. The opportunities are seemingly limitless, and there’s little doubt that there are a million reasons people take a stab at entrepreneurship. Money is a huge factor, but so is the ability to craft your own path, the chance to be your own boss, and the opportunity to use your unique expertise to solve problems for individuals and groups. Nonetheless, we often go into business because we have a talent, a resource, a product or a skill that we believe customers need, even without understanding the operations of daily business. Quite simply, where can you go when you know what you do, but not the business of how to do it?
One of the immediate benefits of being employed at an established company, corporation or even a start-up is that there are in-house specialists for key operational roles. Venturing out on your own, means that while you can seek advice and counsel from others, you are ultimately responsible for all key operational aspects of your business. Essentially, you are the ultimate generalist–and that is simultaneously exciting and unnerving.
While there are a multitude of characteristics that constitute a successful business owner, one of the things no one can dispute is that business owners need to be continuous learners. You need to be curious and relentless in your pursuit of information and knowledge so that you can adapt your strategy accordingly. Over the past year, I’ve immersed myself in my business and these four educational resources have been invaluable for connecting me to opportunities to learn skills. I believe these skills have kept my business growing. I encourage you to see if these outlets can help you become a successful entreprenuer.
SCORE – SCORE has a mission of fostering vibrant small business communities through mentorship and education. This is the Small Business Association’s non-profit arm. It boasts the largest network of expert business mentors. You’ll find thousands of resources including educational workshops (online and in person), webinars, roundtables, and tools on every element of your business from inception to execution. Whether you need a mentor or a workshop on pricing strategy, SCORE can help. Find your local chapter today.
EventBrite – There’s more to EventBrite than dance parties and happy hours. Here you can find an ever-expanding list of networking events, conferences, roundtables, and panel discussions that will connect you with the latest industry news and like-minded people in your sector. You can browse events by location or use hashtags (#business #networking #class) to help you hone in on events of interest to you.
General Assembly –Though best known for their digital and coding classes, General Assembly also offers a wealth of courses in business skills that help entrepreneurs and business owners at every stage. With full-time and part-time courses as well as classes and workshops in everything from advanced topics in excel, business metrics, product management, and negotiation, you are certain to find a course that you can use here. Another great benefit of the General Assembly is that you can be certain that your instructors are experts in their fields, many of whom offer their professional services beyond the classroom.
Course Horse – With over 17,000 classes you are sure to find a course that covers your business questions. Because acquiring new skills does not usually happen overnight, course horse offers extended seminars, online classes and even full semester courses at Columbia Business School. Another great aspect of Course Horse is that you can take general business courses, as well niche courses that can strengthen your entrepreneurial expertise. That expertise can be wherever you want it to be, whether it’s in the arts, music, television, journalism, technology, or elsewhere.
Starting and running a business is a great adventure and a great investment in yourself. In the end, you are the keeper of your knowledge, resources, skills, and experience. That soup of know-how ultimately determines your value in and out of your place of business. Above all, the most important thing in business (as in life) is to keep going and keep growing. That is how the beginner becomes the expert, or in the case of 27 million Americans, the entrepreneur.
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Lawrese Brown is an educator, entrepreneur, and consultant. When not working with students, she's teaching improv classes through the Engaging Educator, completing her Masters in Educational Leadership, Politics and Advocacy at NYU, and encouraging other young women to become entrepreneurs as a member of New Jersey's Association of Women in Business.