E-learning for your small business, 24/7

The Training Network, available on the Web 24 hours a day, operates like an electronic umbrella under which many SBA and agency resource training programs are archived, aggregated, sorted by content and made available in multiple formats.

by Bruce Hodgman — 

More than ever before, the academic world relies on technology to help students access the kinds of information, coursework and instruction that often are out of the reach of ordinary Americans, either because of geography, costs or time constraints. Now, thanks to the Internet, small-business training is no exception.

At the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) extensive Web site, small business owners and entrepreneurs can now access an online virtual classroom with a myriad of information resources and counseling assistance through the agency’s Small Business Training Network.

The Training Network is an Internet-based learning environment — operating like a virtual campus — that offers online courses, workshops, publications, information resources, learning tools, direct access to electronic counseling and other forms of technical assistance for entry-level entrepreneurs and experienced business owners alike. Additionally, it addresses the special needs of students, home-based business owners and women. Key resources and suggested courses are aimed at pre-venture businesses and growing businesses to meet small-business training needs.

Designed with the entrepreneur in mind, the Training Network provides interactive business guidance on a wide range of topics. More than 60 interactive courses and electronic guides that provide educational tools and resources on entrepreneurship are assembled into 12 training categories. Many of the courses include audio clips, quizzes and feedback.

The Training Network, available on the Web 24 hours a day, operates like an electronic umbrella under which many SBA and agency resource training programs are archived, aggregated, sorted by content and made available in multiple formats. The Training Network serves small-business clients, agency resource partners, other federal agencies and global students of enterprise.

Helping small businesses compete in a constantly changing global environment, the Training Network makes SBA’s business management resources available anytime and anywhere. Online course topics include: how to start a business, business management, financing, marketing and advertising, business planning tools, government contracting, risk management, e-commerce, federal tax training, international trade and small business retirement. It also includes a comprehensive electronic library.

Many of the learning opportunities offered by the Network are developed by cosponsors (academic institutions and corporations), some are developed by SBA’s resource partners such as SCORE or Small Business Development Centers, and some are developed internally through agency contracts. All the offerings are free and self-paced, and the majority are considered topical primers.

The virtual library features more than 200 free e-books and publications, links to top business magazines and national newspapers, direct links to colleges and universities that offer other online business training courses and programs, and a section for young entrepreneurs wanting to pursue their business interests.

All Small Business Training Network resources can be accessed online at www.sba.gov/training.

In addition to a wide selection of online offerings, the Training Network serves as a window to the traditional, face-to-face technical assistance programs offered by the agency. For a list of traditional training opportunities offered by SBA and their resource partners in Arizona, visit www.sba.gov/az.

 

Bruce Hodgman is the Deputy Director of the SBA in Arizona. bruce.hodgman@sba.gov.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 25, Number 6, December 2006/January 2007.

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