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Small Business Academy

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Are you a self-starter who wants to work for yourself? Have you always dreamed of starting your own business but just need the right set of business tools?

In just one semester you can learn the critical skills you’ll need to draw up a business plan, locate resources and funding and plan for the success of your own business, no matter what field it’s in! Best of all, El Centro’s Small Business Academy classes are taught completely online, so you can take courses around your work schedule.

Before you risk investing time and money, get a base in the fundamentals of launching and growing your future business. Get the practical skills and business knowledge you’ll need, including:

Get started today in the Small Business Academy!
  • accounting
  • business law
  • choosing solid business opportunities
  • computer information systems
  • estimating business growth
  • financial feasibility
  • forecasting operating expenses and sales
  • identifying objectives and setting goals
  • legal and ethical issues
  • marketing
  • operations
  • products and services

You should be able to answer the following critical questions by the end of the program:

  • What does it take to launch a successful entrepreneurial career?
  • What’s the difference between a good idea and an idea with profit potential?
  • Is the opportunity I’m considering right for me, right now?
  • Why do some firms flourish while others never grow beyond one product?
  • What critical steps do I need to take in planning my business?
  • How can I project what challenges and hurdles I’ll have and how to overcome them?
  • How much money do I need to start my business — and where and how do I get it?
  • Do I need a business plan, and how do I develop one?
  • How do I plan for growth and expansion?

The 14-week course syllabus covers the following lesson plans:

  • Are you an entrepreneur?
  • What is your business?
  • What is a business plan?
  • Personal finances and debt
  • Start-up costs
  • Pricing and credit strategies
  • Financial and legal management
  • Financial statements and balance sheets
  • Financial statements and cash flow
  • Payroll
  • Taxes and the IRS

Our Online Program is Geared Toward Busy Professionals

As a budding entrepreneur, you’re already Internet-capable and self-motivated to complete work on your own. Our technologically sophisticated all-online program provides all coursework, class interaction and study via the Internet:

  • eCampus, the district's Web interface used to access Internet-based distance education courses
  • eConnect, the district’s Web interface that allows students to search, register and pay for credit classes, and view final grades and financial aid status. You must have an email address on file with the college to access eConnect.

 Online program features include:

  • An optional live meet-and-greet session before the start of the program
  • Online student introduction for classmates to “meet” each other
  • All lectures, classwork and reading assignments via eCampus
  • Required student login at least three times a week with participation in a threaded discussion of topics with postings to share observations, critical thinking and questions
  • Homework that capitalizes on Internet resources and research
  • A digital drop-box for instructor review of class assignments
  • A class chatroom that acts as a blog
  • Business Plan Pro software to build your business plan
  • Course statistics that track students’ login to lectures and website visits
  • Required email correspondence with the instructor at least once a week

Course Objectives and Exercises

The Small Business Academy’s goal is to give you the fundamental knowledge and hands-on skills necessary to plan, launch and operate your own business, no matter what field. Course objectives include learning how to:

  • Develop a business model and business plan
  • Locate capital for your venture
  • Develop an exit strategy
  • Develop strategic management skills for your organization
  • Lead your organization
  • Handle inevitable adverse events and master downside planning for turnarounds, bailouts, restructurings and reorganizations

Interviewing Experts and Writing a Business Plan

During the semester, each student will also prepare summaries after interviewing the following:

  • An entrepreneur who has started a business within the past five to 10 years and whose sales exceed $500,000 annually;
  • A venture capitalist who has invested in a business within the past five to 10 years whose sales exceed $1 million annually;
  • A business attorney or tax accountant who has assisted entrepreneurs within the past five to 10 years

Each course participant is also required to develop a basic business plan, integrating course materials into a “real life” business idea.

Small Business Academy Degree and Certificate Options

El Centro College

The Small Business Academy Certificate is a Level I certificate program in entrepreneurship. The program is designed to teach foundational business competencies that provide the knowledge and practical skills to plan, start and run your own business.

View Gainful Employment information for Small Business Academy.