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Best College Courses for a Small Business Owner

America can be called the land of the entrepreneur, since so many of its citizens go in to business for themselves. People often have the mistaken impression that all it takes to run a successful business is possession of a great product at a good price. The truth is that there are many more aspects to successful business ownership, and having a good product is not enough to successfully run a business. Many business owners find themselves woefully unprepared for all the different aspects of successfully running a business.

It is possible for a person to self teach by doing research on the Internet, reading books, and least desirably by trial and error. While these methods will help a business owner learn they are often slow ways to learn since the owner lacks guidance from someone knowledgeable about business. Learning by trial and error also puts that business owner in the position to make costly, and in the case of accounting and tax issues sometimes disastrous mistakes. Fortunately colleges offer a number of classes that will help an entrepreneur successfully start and/or run their own business.


This course usually covers multiple disciplines, a nod to the many hats that a business owner must wear to be successful. Entrepreneurship focuses on teaching a person to recognize and create business opportunities. This is very important for anyone looking to start their own business because many people make the mistake of pouring their energies, money, and time in to an opportunity that doesn’t have the potential to pan out. The course also covers the traits and attributes of successful entrepreneurs, a process that will teach the average person which of their skills they need to develop to become a successful entrepreneur. Finally the course covers how to finance business endeavors by teaching a person how to write a business plan (this subject is covered in more depth in some of the other courses in this article).

Accounting 101

This course usually covers all of the accounting procedures beneficial to individuals and small business owners. Proper accounting is a crucial part of running a successful business but is quite often overlooked by new business owners…until tax time rolls around or they wish to receive a bank loan, then accounting’s importance really sinks in. The course will cover double entry bookkeeping, proper accounting of debits and credits, and journal entries and closing. Proper accounting is imperative for a business to properly calculate its taxes, failure to do so can result in a nasty audit or even cause the business to be closed. Also accurate bookkeeping is imperative for preparing the financial statements required in a business plan; it is impossible to obtain financing from a bank if the applicant’s financial statements are not in order.


This course usually covers all of the different aspects of marketing. Most business owners find it difficult to market their products. This course will show a person how to identify potential customers. It will also cover what it called the marketing mix which includes: product, price, promotion and distribution. The marketing mix is affected by many variables such as: ethics, technology, culture, lifestyle, markets both regional and global, and competition. This is a lot of material for a person to learn on their own, guidance from a course such as this is very beneficial for a business owner.

Business Law

Business law is complex, and most new business owners are unprepared for the amount of material involved. Business law includes contracts, torts, along with agency and government regulations. Business law changes quickly so most business law courses focus on developing the student’s critical thinking skills so they will be able to handle themselves in any situation. The class is especially beneficial for a student to learn and understand contract law which is critical for a successful business owner so they can build legally enforceable contracts and also spot illegal ones.

Technology and Information Management

This class is crucial for small business owners these days due to the technological boom. While it is still possible to run a business without ever touching a computer having knowledge of computers will save the business operator valuable time and money. This course covers computer hardware including: how a computer stores information, the different kinds of computer code used to write programs and the varied programs that a computer uses to operate. The course also covers software including: word processing, accounting, web browsing, HTML editing, and photo processing. The course will help the lay person get a working understanding of all the latest technology so he or she will be familiarized with the benefits of small business CRM.

Web Development

This class is only necessary for those business owners that wish to participate in e-commerce. Website design and promotion is more difficult than many people think. And for businesses that work primarily on the Internet having a functional, professional looking website that attracts buyers is crucial for success. The class will cover all aspects of web page design including HTML code and Java Script, search engine optimization and web design software.

English 101

This class often seems unimportant, but it is crucial that a business owner have an excellent grasp of the English language along with excellent writing skills. Writing skills are important because so much of a businesses communication with customers is through writing contained in advertising, catalogs, and web pages. The class will cover all of the mechanics of proper English while teaching the student how to express themselves in writing in a way that engages the reader. This will turn bland advertising and product descriptions into excellent mediums for attracting customers.

These courses will not apply to every business owner, since educations and experience vary. They are however a good overview of the knowledge a business owner requires to be successful.

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