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BFS Capital Blog

School’s In Session for Many Small Business Owners

August 8, 2013

How much does formal education really matter if you’re running your own business? When you started your business, maybe you had a degree – or not. And if you did, it probably wasn’t in business. So, does it make sense for a business owner to invest the time and money into formal education?

Startup Nation ( says that with more and more classes for would-be business owners now offered on campuses, the question is more important than ever. Once focused exclusively on helping students assume roles in the corporate world, business schools now recognize the unique needs of being an entrepreneur, the important role small businesses play in the U.S. economy, and the growing likelihood that individuals will start their own businesses. Not only that, but an increasing number of students come to school with businesses already launched.

Business owners often look back at their startup period and say, “I just didn’t know how much I didn’t know!” Businesses get off the ground with a good idea, a vision and plenty of grit and determination—not necessarily a business plan, market research and financial expertise. Which means that, even if you’re experiencing success now, there’s still plenty to learn as you grow. In fact, understanding how to manage your growth can make or break your business.

While the desire and temperament for being an entrepreneur is probably in your DNA, the skills needed to increase your chances of success can—and often should be—learned in a more formal way. These include classes in marketing, identifying and taking advantage of strategic opportunities, creating business plans, cash-flow management, growth management, business law and company valuation.

The business owner population itself seems to bear out the value of education. A recent study by the NFIB (the National Federation of Independent Business) found that small business owners have more formal education than the adult population. Not only do 46 percent have a minimum of a four-year degree, but many also have additional education and training—and continue with education and training throughout their lifetimes. Taking courses is one of the biggest ways business owners continue their education.

But how do busy business owners manage to add continuing education to their already-packed schedules? In a word: the Internet. Online classes—which are also becoming a big part of university offerings—now make it possible for owners to get the kind of ongoing education they need to deal with the many complexities of their businesses. A little research will help you locate schools with entrepreneurship programs or courses.  And here are a few to check out:


    • Online entrepreneurial classes at Stanford (


    • Best entrepreneurship courses in America (


    • Entrepreneurship courses at MIT


    • Coursera, the online education enterprise that partners with 62 major universities to offer classes in a wide range of subjects, including business


Do you feel you need continuing education and training? Have you taken more formal educational courses?


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