As small business in general gains national attention, Fortune 500 corporations are seeking a foothold in this fast-growing market. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP has an Entrepreneurial Advisory Services/ Middle Market Group that holds seminars for entrepreneurs nationwide. "[Entrepreneurs have] many needs, and we want to position ourselves to help them find answers," says Don Dailey, regional partner in charge of the group. "If we can help them, they might think of us [later on] when they need help."
Using instructors called "thought leaders," PricewaterhouseCoopers holds breakfast meetings that focus on issues of importance to business owners. Often held in conjunction with local business groups at no cost to attendees, the sessions are designed to be interactive. "We serve as facilitators to bring business owners together to learn from each other," Dailey explains.
Other professional service firms are joining the training trend, too. Follmer Rudzewicz & Co., a Detroit accounting firm, offers an Organizational Development and Training Consulting service to owners of small businesses, providing advice from successful entrepreneurs for free or for as little as $45 per hour, compared to the usual $300 per hour. "Most people are either good salespeople or have a good [business idea]," says David B. Harrell, a principal in the firm and head of the program, "but they don't have both, and that's what gets them into trouble."
Beyond practical matters, entrepreneurship courses offer intangible benefits as well. "Isolation is a big problem for people starting a business," says Judith Cone, program director of the Center for Entepreneurial Leadership at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which sponsors the Premier Fast Trac programs in 46 states. "Entrepreneurial training helps eliminate that feeling of isolation. [Participants] see they are part of a process that can work."
Making sure your business will work before you start is key to success. Once the doors open, there isn't much time to think about the essential nuts and bolts of running a business. Taxes, marketing, finding employees--these aren't the things you think of when you visualize being your own boss, but they're essential parts of being a successful business owner.