Star Tech

Virtual Classroom

By Shara Lessley

Restricted by the time constraints of running a business, homebased entrepreneurs might find it difficult to take a refresher course on "Low-Cost Publicity" or "Power Thinking." But thanks to Raleigh, North Carolina-based Small Business University, all prospective students need is a desire to learn, $40 for a single workshop or $300 to enroll in the company's Advanced Business Certificate program, and telephone or Internet access.

An outgrowth of The Marketing Coach, a virtual training organization for marketing and advertising, Small Business University was created by advertising entrepreneur Leslie Speidel. Since the university's cyberspace debut in October 1997, more than 400 students from Australia to Hong Kong have signed up for weekly teleconference courses.

In addition to insight gained from Small Business University's 11-person staff, students benefit from peer correspondence and support. According to Speidel, the university fosters relationships for those who want to take their educations to the next level. "The easiest thing to do is provide their e-mail addresses [to each other] so they can network and perhaps form some kind of virtual partnership," Speidel says.

For details, visit Small Business University at

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