Learning about the nuts and bolts of business is an important part of growing your enterprise. But you definitely do not need to study business in order to start a business. Apple’s Steve Jobs and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg didn’t, while the founders of the Starbucks coffee chain were an English teacher, a history teacher and a writer.
Strictly speaking, these people were not business people, they were originators who changed our culture (yes, even Starbucks!) But once their ideas caught on, and they started to make money, they had to hire business professionals to manage their affairs. (In Jobs’ case, the business professionals he hired ended up firing him from his own company – but that’s another story.)
You probably don’t have the luxury of hiring people to take care of your business, so you need to gather together as much knowledge as you can, especially if you have a heavy financial investment at risk. While a degree course in business might not be possible in terms of the investment of time and money, there are many other options available. Let’s look at three types of courses, and how they may advantage you.
The basics of business in bookkeeping
The four main types of statements you will come across in accounting are balance sheets, income statements, statements of retained earnings and cash flow statements. If you don’t know what these are, you could probably find out by googling, but a better approach would be to learn them as part of a whole system, rather than picking up terms bit by bit. You can even be a bit cheeky and take a TAFE course in basic bookkeeping, then show a willing family member how it works. They could take over the books (under your supervision) until you can hire a qualified accountant.
Study an MBA course without paying for it
At the more intensive end of the study spectrum is something known as a MOOC (massive open online course). These are courses offered by top universities online and free of charge. You don’t get accreditation, but you do receive knowledge usually reserved for people studying business at university. Online portals like Coursera bring them all together in one place.
Learning in your local environment
States and local governments are keen to promote business skills because businesses contribute to the economy, which makes everyone happy and gets the politicians re-elected! The City of Sydney conducts Business 101 seminars, designed to help business owners “who aren’t sure where to start” or need advice.
Apart from learning business skills, at these events you also meet the people who control permits, licensing and business applications. Call your local council about similar seminars in your city.
If you do enrol in a course you may be required to supply documents, even coursework. Having a toll free fax number for your business, means you can send and receive a fax online and even share large files via email – up to 1GB sent to up to 20 recipients. Both of these capabilities come with an eFax number that sends faxes and files online as attachments via the internet, bypassing the limitations of your email provider. It’s part of the cloud-based revolution that’s allowing businesses to operate more cheaply and efficiently.
While it’s not absolutely necessary to study business formally to run your enterprise, a little knowledge from a short course or even a MOOC can go a long way in helping you improve your business.