Many baby boomers are trying to rework or restart their careers by starting their own small business. Many don’t have the training or experience necessary to be successful as a small business owner. Now there are ways to fix that: small business management courses offered online – for free.
The Small Business Training Network (SBTN) is a customer-focused SBA strategy designed to enrich, educate and empower small businesses. It is an Internet-based learning environment – operating like a virtual campus – offering online courses, workshops, publications, information resources, learning tools and direct access to electronic counseling, and other forms of technical assistance.
The SBA courses are offered in ten different categories: starting a business, business management, surviving in a down economy, finance/accounting, marketing/advertising, government contracting, business planning, e-commerce, international trade, and federal taxation.
These are the most popular course titles:
- The Small Business Primer
- Business Opportunities: A Guide to Winning Federal Contracts
- Finance Primer: A Guide to SBA’s Loan Guaranty Programs
- How to Prepare a Business Plan
- How to Prepare a Loan Package
The courses are self-paced and are typically only 30 minutes long. This precludes an in-depth study of the topic. Nevertheless, since they are free, it certainly can’t hurt your career planning to take a few courses before investing precious retirement dollars in a new small business.
Another excellent resource for free online business management courses is the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Center. This site has links to over 90 free courses and learning programs that are available online 24/7. The courses are from the SBA, IRS, Small Biz U, Virtual Advisor, as well as custom programs from the Pennsylvania SBDC Network. They are all self-paced and include voice-over narration. Some courses also include video. Many are longer than the SBA courses.
I particularly like the offerings in the legal aspects of forming a small business and in using intellectual property protection.
If you are a baby boomer looking to enhance your small business management skills, give some of these online courses a test drive. It could mean the difference between success and failure.