The skyrocketing number of entrepreneurial education programs is good news for entrepreneurs--but with so many options, choosing the right seminar or class can be difficult. To find the perfect match, begin by carefully assessing yourself. What skills and expertise do you lack? How much time and money can you afford to invest in a training program? When and where do you want to take a class?
Listing your entrepreneurial strengths and weaknesses is a good starting point, one that can be made even more valuable if you ask friends, business colleagues and family members to make a similar list about you. The results can be hard to swallow, but they'll give you an objective list of the areas you need to improve.
Next, gather the names of programs from local business organizations such as your chamber of commerce and the SBA. Ask other entrepreneurs and professionals, such as your attorney and accountant, for ideas.
Look for a program that fits the way you learn. If classroom instruction bores you, you may do better in a program that emphasizes interaction with other business owners rather than lectures. Short on time? You may prefer getting information in one day-long class, or you may want to take night classes spread over several months so you're not overwhelmed with a lot of material all at once. If you're truly pressed for time or your business requires you to work odd hours, consider classes on the Internet, which are available 24 hours a day.
To narrow your list, talk to the instructors to get details about their teaching style and the material covered. Also ask for names of business owners who have taken the class, and contact them to get their opinion. (Be especially careful when investigating courses on the Internet, where all is not always what it seems.)
Torn between two programs? If all else is equal, go for the ones taught by successful entrepreneurs. These experienced leaders can offer you valuable lessons, assistance and business contacts.
Bob Graham is a freelance writer in Belcamp, Maryland, who specializes in business and real estate topics.
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