How to Become an Entrepreneur in Rhode Island

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What is Entrepreneurship?


Are you interested in pursuing an entrepreneurship degree in Rhode Island? Those eager to learn about starting their own businesses will find this major particularly helpful, although this area of study can lead to a wide variety of traditional employment opportunities, as well. In fact, the knowledge and skills obtained through entrepreneurship instruction and coursework are applicable in almost any profession and industry.

The professional and business services industry is ranked third in Rhode Island and accounts for $7.8 billion of the state’s revenue each year. Notably, however, new businesses can be created in any of the state’s top sectors. This means that entrepreneurs have a lot of freedom, with opportunities in real estate, education, social assistance, finance, manufacturing, wholesale, retails, entertainment, recreation, food services, information, and construction.

The responsibilities of entrepreneurs generally depend on the level of preferred participation. The most involved businesses owners may oversee all operations including directing production, assisting with personnel management, developing company-wide policies, handling customer service issues, and reviewing financial activities. Entrepreneurs who take on less active roles may only be responsible for reviewing progress reports and approving budgets. Ultimately, the amount of involvement and scope of responsibilities varies based on personal preference.

In either case, entrepreneurs often enjoy a lot of freedom. Some of the greatest benefits associated with this profession are personal and professional independence and autonomy while creating a business. Owners can choose the type of work they perform, where they are located, who they work with, and even how much money they earn.

There are potential drawbacks, however. The work can be extremely stressful, especially because income is often linked directly to business performance. These professionals do not have the same stability often associated with typical employment and my struggle when their ventures stagnate or fail.


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Online Entrepreneurship Education in Rhode Island


Notably, the outlook for entrepreneurs is generally quite promising. Still, while there are many options available, prospective business owners must choose their ventures carefully. This is because some company types fair better than others. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the most profitable sectors are healthcare and social assistance. Businesses with the lowest rates of survival in the nation are often focused on construction.

Entrepreneurs also generally have decent earning potential, although pay will ultimately depend on the industry chosen, as well as overall business success. According to PayScale, hourly rates for self-employed professionals range from $11.40 to $81.74, with an average base salary of $63,658 for small business owners. This is slightly above the annual mean wage of $62,120 in Rhode Island as of May 2021.

While higher education is not technically required in order to create and manage businesses, obtaining a degree can lead to greater success. This is because those with a strong foundational understanding of important topics are often better prepared to overcome the various challenges and stresses associated with being a business owner.

Academic programs related to entrepreneurship and innovation are offered by colleges and universities in Rhode Island. As the state is small, prospective students may be tempted to pursue degrees from other institutions. Indeed, distance learning options make it easy to attend classes and complete coursework from nearly anywhere in the world with internet access. This is generally discouraged, however, for those intending to work or establish businesses in Rhode Island. Local schools will provide these individuals with the most regionally relevant instruction. These colleges and universities are also more familiar with business laws in the state, ensuring that students are sufficiently prepared to meet various regulations after graduation. It’s also common for institutions to establish relationships with nearby companies and organizations, which can make it easier for current students to obtain internships and graduates to find employment.

It's important to realize that starting and managing a business is not for everyone. Establishing a new company can be risky, especially when investing significant time and resources into the venture. The unfortunate fact is that many businesses fail within only a few years of being created. To avoid this scenario, entrepreneurs must assess their abilities and the viability of their ideas carefully. The most successful business owners possess strong work ethics, as well as skills in communication, critical thinking, customer service, finance, leadership, planning, and problem-solving.

A fairly broad term, entrepreneur often refers to people who create and manage their own businesses. Opportunities tend to be vast as these professionals are capable of establishing companies of varying scope within almost any industry. Additionally, private business owners typically have significant freedom and control over their chosen ventures. All of these factors can make it more difficult to narrow down the scope of this profession.

That said, all entrepreneurs must follow local, state, and national laws, as well as any regulations pertaining to their businesses. While many prefer to manage their own companies, some choose to hire others to handle the daily responsibilities instead. Those who perform many of the duties themselves often take on more active roles because this can save them money. While employing managers can decrease involvement, paying them can cut into potential profits.

Notably, a degree in entrepreneurship is not required to start a business in Rhode Island. Obtaining some level of higher education, however, ensures you have a variety of knowledge and skills that may help you be more successful. Graduates tend to have better employment and pay prospects.

Not all colleges and universities in Rhode Island offer entrepreneurship as a major. As a result, it may be necessary for students to enroll in business degrees that offer concentrations in entrepreneurship and related subjects instead. Some other common options include product feasibility, funding, or E-commerce.

Entrepreneurship and business degrees are typically available at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. As each option has its own benefits and drawbacks, prospective students will need to consider their ultimate career goals prior to submitting any applications.

Online Associate Degree in Entrepreneurship (AS)

Associate degree programs in business and entrepreneurship generally consist of 60 credit hours of coursework that takes full-time students approximately two years to complete. Programs vary, but students can expect to take classes in general liberal arts subjects, as well as those relevant to the major. Instruction often broadly examines relevant business topics such as accounting, marketing, business law, and business ethics. Professors may also emphasize the knowledge and skills needed most when starting a business. Additionally, students may study various software programs used to create spreadsheets, presentations, and written documents.

This is an ideal degree for individuals seeking to gain the minimum skills needed to open, manage, and grow businesses quickly. Graduates may also qualify for employment as retail managers, office managers, general sales managers, business analysts, and more.

Associate degrees can also serve as foundational learning for further education. Many graduates choose to enroll in bachelor’s degrees. In fact, it is common for colleges and universities to accept up to 60 or 90 previous academic transfer credits from other accredited institutions. As a result, students with associate degrees may enter as juniors instead of freshmen, with only two more years of education needed in order to graduate from a more advanced program.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Entrepreneurship (BS)

Online bachelor’s degree programs in business and entrepreneurship generally consist of 120 credit hours of coursework that takes full-time students four years to complete. Program specifics vary, but most still incorporate many liberal arts general education classes into their curriculums. Major-specific topics covered typically include low-risk startups, entrepreneurial finance, etc. Students can expect to develop skills in leadership, organization, and problem-solving, while honing their professional independence and strong work ethics.

This type of degree is ideal for those who intend to establish their own businesses. Graduates are generally capable of becoming successful private business owners, as well as finding employment in a wide variety of industries.

Graduates may also decide to pursue further education by enrolling in master’s degree programs. Every colleges and university is different, but most require applicants to have bachelor’s degrees in related subjects, as well as minimum grade point averages (GPAs) and Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) test scores.

Online Master's Degree in Entrepreneurship (MS or MC)

Master’s degree programs in business and entrepreneurship generally consist of between 30 and 60 credit hours of coursework that takes full-time students approximately two years to complete. While prerequisite classes may be required, curriculums typically focus solely on business-related topics. Every institution is different, but most strive to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to grow and develop existing businesses. Courses commonly revolve around financial management and strategic marketing. Some colleges and universities also offer opportunities for those enrolled to select concentrations or specialty areas.

This type of program further develops the knowledge and skills utilized during business creation and management. While most graduates apply what they learn to pre-existing businesses, some opt to pursue traditional employment in the business field.

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree may also be a good option. This is one of the most popular academic programs in the United States. It helps students develop and hone skills in key subjects such as strategy, marketing, global business, and supply chain management. Familiarity with these can prove particularly useful when opening and/or growing companies. Alternatively, graduates often qualify for senior-level and management positions.

Online PhD Degree in Entrepreneurship (PhD)

Online doctorate and PhD programs in business and entrepreneurship generally consist of between 90 and 120 credit hours that take full-time students four to seven years to complete. Most programs consist of classes that address various research methods, economics, and multivariate data analysis. While those enrolled will receive some direct instruction from professors, they will also perform independent research while developing written dissertations. Findings must be presented and defended prior to graduation.

As a terminal degree, this is the highest level of education available in the field. While rarely necessary for entrepreneurs opening their own businesses, it’s an ideal option for those interested in research and postsecondary education positions. Few of the topics covered are relevant to establishing and managing businesses but graduates often qualify for jobs as directors of operations and chief operating officers for larger corporations.

Become an Entrepreneur in Rhode Island


The first step to becoming an entrepreneur in Rhode Island is determining your ultimate career goals. Do you want to create and manage your own business or would you rather find related employment? Your answer will greatly impact how you proceed. Once you have identified your preferences, it becomes significantly easier to map a viable course, which may or may not include enrolling in an academic degree program and pursuing relevant work experiences.

In addition to obtaining degrees in entrepreneurship, many individuals in this field choose to attain one or more professional certifications. There are many unique business credentials available than can prove highly beneficial to an entrepreneur’s career. Few are explicitly required, so business owners typically pursue certifications that apply to their given industries.

Some prominent options include:

  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
  • Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP)
  • Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP)
  • Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM)
  • Certified Logistics, Transportation and Distribution (CLTD)
  • Certified Professional Logistician (CPL)
  • Certified Professional Contract Manager (CPCM)
  • Project Management Professional (PMP)
  • Oracle Certified Professional (OCP)

If you plan to start a business in Rhode Island, it you will need to become familiar with the various laws and regulations. According to the Secretary of State, most business structures need to register with the Rhode Island Department of State. You will also need to provide the name of the company, a registered agent with associated address, business structure, and proof of insurance. In most cases, you will be able to file and pay processing fees online, although some business structures to require hardcopies of the documentation. After your business is registered, it’s important to confirm your registration filing was accepted. Additionally, all business owners in the state must obtain Federal Employer Identification (EIN) numbers from the International Revenue Service (IRS). You will also need to register with the Rhode Island Division of Taxation in order to file and pay business taxes moving forward.

Careers for Entrepreneurship Graduates


  • Entrepreneur Careers
    In addition to starting your own business, a degree in entrepreneurship or a related major will qualify you for a wide variety of employment opportunities in Rhode Island. Job titles and salaries are likely to vary throughout the state, but some of the most commonly available occupations available to graduates include the following.
  • Business Careers
    Small business owners take on most, if not all, of the responsibilities associated with establishing, maintaining, and growing businesses. Some take less active roles by delegating tasks to others, but many take on lead roles. Most small business owners oversee daily operations, direct production, supervise personnel, develop new policies, and direct financial activities. According to PayScale, small business owners make an average base salary of $63,000 per year.
  • Business Analyst
    Business analysts ensure company departments function the way they are supposed to. They may be responsible for a variety of tasks including performing employee assessments, processing requests, and certifying that worker needs are sufficiently met. These professionals may also create, implement, and evaluate business metrics. According to PayScale, business analysts make an average base salary of $61,850 per year.
  • Business Consultant
    Business consultants develop business models to increase profitability for their clients. They work to improve customer outreach and/or identify potential vendors for new product purchases. To achieve this, they often assess current procedures before providing company stakeholders with a list of suggestions. These professionals may also help identify and execute changes to company infrastructures. According to PayScale, business consultants make an average base salary of $75,100 per year.
  • General Sales Manager
    General sales managers oversee the sales departments for the companies they work for. They perform a wide variety of tasks including hiring and training employees, assisting sales teams, ensuring targets are met, compiling revenue data, and presenting relevant information to upper management. These professionals may also take on general marketing duties. According to PayScale, general sales managers make an average base salary of $65,700 per year.
  • Marketing Manager
    Marketing managers develop and oversee advertising campaigns for single products or entire product lines. In some cases, they may even be responsible for entire brands or companies. These professionals constantly monitor their program performance, coordinating various elements with product managers. They also conducting market research studies and present their findings to employers. According to PayScale, marketing managers make an average base salary of $66,300 per year.
  • Office Manager
    Office managers oversee company departments for their employers, ensuring that all operations run smoothly. They often manage office activities, projects, and employees, implementing new policies and complete additional tasks as directed. These professionals must also provide updates to high-level executives. According to PayScale, office managers make an average hourly rate of $18.28, which is an estimated base salary of $49,300 per year.
  • Retail Manager
    Retail managers manage the day-to-day operations of the stores they are assigned. They perform a wide variety of tasks including managing store inventories, tracking company goals, and assisting with annual budget planning. These professionals also coordinate employee onboarding processes and address any customer service issues that arise. According to PayScale, retail managers make an average base salary of $48,000 per year.
  • Web Developer
    Web developers build websites using code. They create web pages and databases, which can be utilized in a variety of ways. These professionals may also be asked to create, modify, and debut software in order to enhance productivity, marketability, and/or efficiency. Additionally, web developers test new software to ensure it is suitable before company-wide installation. According to PayScale, web developers make an average base salary of $60,100 per year.

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