Entrepreneurs Benefit from Summer Business Classes

More small business owners are taking time to continue their educations with summer classes. While a few may opt for the more involved “executive MBA” programs that lead …

More small business owners are taking time to continue their educations with summer classes. While a few may opt for the more involved “executive MBA” programs that lead to a degree, many more consider open enrollment business courses at state universities and community colleges. Not to be outdone, members of the business education elite like the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and New York University’s Stern School of Business are also offering summer workshops and programs. For more on this continue reading the following article from TheStreet.

As the weather warms and schools start the countdown to June, it’s tempting to ease into a summer state of mind. Unfortunately, small-business owners don’t get three months off.

The midpoint of the year is a great time to take stock of your company’s progress, though, and make plans for what you want to accomplish by the end of 2011. Taking summer classes at a local business school or college can help keep you on track with those goals — or inspire you to set some new ones.

Besides learning tangible skills to improve your finances or marketing, college-level courses are a good way to expand your network. Whether it’s a helpful professor or inspiring fellow entrepreneur, you’ll meet people outside your industry and force yourself to think beyond your usual routines.

Almost every business school has an "executive MBA" or business management degree program aimed at working professionals. But some business schools have more flexible "open enrollment" programs where you can pick and choose classes according to your needs. The focus is on learning-specific, actionable skills rather than working toward a degree.

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Such programs give business owners access to business-school-caliber faculty — at prices far below business-school tuition. And forget agonizing over a pages-long business school application; you can usually register for classes online in a few minutes.

Some of the country’s most prestigious business schools will be offering classes this summer on topics relevant to small businesses. At the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, for example, Executive Education classes being held in June and July include a workshop on strategic persuasion (subtitled "The Art and Science of Selling Ideas"); a course in competitive marketing strategy; and another on using strategic thinking and management for competitive advantage. Programs run one week and cost $8,000 to $9,000.

In June, the Stern School of Business at New York University offers a two-day program on Digital IQ, which focuses on driving value through social media, mobile applications and e-commerce ($2,500). Across the city, Columbia Business School has a busy slate of summer offerings, including a three-day course in negotiation and decision-making strategies ($5,250) and a two-day program in leadership essentials ($2,650).

State universities — many of which have a community-focused approach — are also a good place to scout out summer learning opportunities. At the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University, June open-enrollment programs include a one-day session in business-to-business sales strategies and tools ($695), as well as a weeklong Lean Tool Awareness Certificate Program ($3,000), which takes students step-by-step through lean principles and how to implement them.

At the Wisconsin School of Business you can take a three-day course to get certified in Six Sigma ($1,795) or learn how to blend online advertising, search engine marketing, Google web analytics and Google AdSense to improve your company’s online messaging in the iMedia program ($1,895).

While business schools are great for leadership training and strategic-thinking courses, sometimes your needs are more down-to-earth. Community colleges are an excellent resource for more vocational-centered training, such as classes in accounting, website maintenance or specific software programs. They’re also more affordable than business-school courses.

Even if you don’t sign up for a business school course this summer, you can continue your education without even registering as a student. Many schools have speakers’ series or lectures that are open to the public, where you can hear from industry thought leaders and influential executives firsthand.

Find out what’s going on at your local business school campus, and you might just get inspired. After all, business is constantly changing — shouldn’t your skill set change, too?

This article was republished with permission from TheStreet.

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