Small Business Academy at El Centro

The Small Business Academy program at El Centro will prepare you for a wide range of career opportunities. Our faculty draw on their knowledge and experience to ensure student success.

Get Practical Skills for Starting Your Own Business

Before you risk investing time and money, get the practical skills and business knowledge you’ll need to start your own business, including in the following areas:

  • Accounting
  • Business law and ethics
  • Choosing solid business opportunities
  • Computer information systems
  • Estimating business growth
  • Financial feasibility
  • Forecasting operating expenses and sales
  • Identifying objectives and setting goals
  • Marketing
  • Operations
  • Products and services

By the end of the Small Business Academy program, you should be able to answer these critical questions:

  • 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?

Lesson Plans

The 14-week Small Business Academy 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

In our all-online program, coursework, class interaction and study occur via the internet, using our eCampus and eConnect software. eCampus is Dallas College's web interface for internet-based distance education courses. eConnect 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 per week, with participation in forum discussions 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’ website visits and logins to lectures.
  • Required email correspondence with the instructor at least once per 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 the 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 5–10 years and whose sales exceed $500,000 annually.
  • A venture capitalist who has invested in a business within the past 5–10 years whose sales exceed $1 million annually.
  • A business attorney or tax accountant who has assisted entrepreneurs within the past 5–10 years

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

Small Business Development Centers

Dallas College sponsors two Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) in cooperation with the U.S. Small Business Administration:

Both centers offer the following resources:

  • Accredited training seminars on relevant topics, such as the fundamentals of importing and exporting, USMCA and more.
  • Analysis of your company's current international trade strategy at any stage of its life cycle.
  • Commissioned market research, including trade statistics, market analysis and business planning.
  • Custom educational presentations to community organizations and students.