Campus News

New online course aims to guide potential entrepreneurs

Image By: Betsy Osterberger and Betsy Osterberger

Students and community members looking to start their own business can now take an online course from the Wisconsin School of Business to guide their way.

The First Steps to Starting a Business course — offered free-of-charge through the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center — features four sections in which potential business owners will learn about topics ranging from key characteristics of successful entrepreneurs, ways to communicate business ideas to others and an assessment of financial readiness.

According to Small Business Development Center Program Manager Julie Wood — who helped write the course — each section of the course features interactive lessons, short video stories from real entrepreneurs and self-assessments. The course takes between 60 and 90 minutes but can be stopped and started at any time.

Wood said this course is important for people considering starting a business because many people do not know what it takes to run a business.

“The failure rate is quite high for people who start businesses,” Wood said. “We feel like if you educate them on the front end and get some of these things straightened out before you start a business, then they have a lot higher chance of being successful.”

After completing the first three sections of the course — Entrepreneurial Mindset, Business Idea and Financial Readiness — the learner will be taken to a final section in which they learn about the best path to move forward with their idea based on the previous assessments.

Wood said learners can download worksheets, like business plan templates, throughout the course to aid them in their decision-making process.

In addition to the not-for-credit online course, the Small Business Development Center also offers in-person classes in Grainger Hall to help people write their business plans. The Biz Smart program focuses on business areas ranging from accounting to human resources and are taught by various experts in the UW-Madison community.

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