Community colleges: A resource for small business owners

Many – perhaps even most – small businesses are started by people with lots of experience and expertise in a field but relatively little know-how about the ins and outs of operating a business. What they desperately need are low-cost, fast ways to get up to speed on topics such as marketing, financial planning, leadership, strategic problem solving, networking, and other skills that are critical to small business success. In a growing number of communities across the country, the best place to turn to for such assistance is your local community college.

For the past four years, I’ve worked with the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship

NACCE members convene annually to discuss how to further their mission of building entrepreneurship in their communities. The 2011 conference will be in Portland, OR.

(NACCE). As editor of NACCE’s quarterly journal, Community College Entrepreneurship, I’ve interviewed dozens of community college professionals about their school’s entrepreneurship education program. I’ve also edited scores of articles describing such programs. I can tell you that hundreds of community colleges all across the nation (and overseas as well) are embracing the role of leading the entrepreneurial movement in the communities they serve.

From low-cost seminars, workshops, speaker series, and networking opportunities to full-blown degree programs in Entrepreneurship, the opportunities to learn how to start, grow, and sustain a business are abundant at community colleges. And many schools also offer an impressive array of other services, such as business incubators; Entrepreneurship Centers where free or low-cost consulting is available; and business plan competitions where you have the opportunity to win funds to support the growth of your business.

If you’re not familiar with what your local community college is doing in this area, it’s worth some research. Check out the NACCE membership list to see if a school near you belongs to this rapidly growing organization.

With such a resource available in your own backyard, there is no need to flounder around trying to figure out where to find the resources you need. Instead, it may very well turn out that you can have a one-stop shopping experience right at your local community college!

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