Higher Learning

Help Yourself

It's easy to see how corporate employees benefit from executive education courses and how programs geared specifically to entrepreneurs benefit small-business owners. But even general executive education classes can greatly enrich an entrepreneur's ability to effectively run his or her business.

"Many entrepreneurs have developed their companies through a strong capability in one functional area or skill," explains Harvard's Berg. "[Executive education] is an opportunity to broaden their education in other functional areas."

Peirce agrees: "What if I was thinking of acquiring another company but didn't know anything about mergers?" she asks. "Or what if I'm marketing-oriented but never understood how to read a balance sheet? There are some very specific skills people can come for and derive bottom-line benefits immediately."

In Berg's opinion, one of the best things about attending an executive education course is "it's almost like going to another country; you're exposed to different situations. [Ideally,] you come back with a much different and fresher perspective on your own company."

No matter how an entrepreneur decides to improve his or her skills, it's always a good idea. To stay successful as a small-business owner, "you have to keep reinvesting in your own human capital--the set of assets you bring to your position," says Peirce.

Adds Krueger, "[Smart] business owners know that everything they can learn--every technique, every advantage, every nugget of information they can use--is going to help them directly."

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This article was originally published in the August 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Higher Learning.

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