Are you an aspiring entrepreneur or current professional? Starting a business can be financially rewarding, as well as personally fulfilling. For many, it is a great way to reach financial goals, while others enjoy the freedom associated with working for themselves. Whether you are interested in establishing a new local or online company, or want to grow a business that already exists, becoming knowledgeable about potential resources is essential.
Entrepreneur resources are assets, tangible and intangible, that assist an individual in establishing or expanding upon a business enterprise. There are countless types of resources available, including associations, journals, apps, internships, certifications, job boards, and conferences. As an entrepreneur, you will need to learn to capitalize upon what these various resources have to offer.
No matter what stage of entrepreneurship you are in, sorting through all the available resources can seem daunting. The options discussed here may be helpful and have been organized by subject for easier reference.
Top Resources for Entrepreneur Students
As you look for an entrepreneurship degree program, it is important to consider accreditation. Every college and university has the ability to become accredited. This means an accrediting body has evaluated the institution and determined that it meets certain industry standards. The process generally involves visiting the school, reviewing coursework, and interviewing faculty.
While most colleges and universities are regionally accredited by one of the six regional accreditation agencies, institutional departments and individual programs may also become accredited. For best results, look for a business school, department, or entrepreneurship bachelor's program that is accredited by one of the following agencies:
Accreditation is not mandatory, but attending an unaccredited college or university may significantly limit your ability to transfer credits, qualify for further education, and/or find professional employment.
Questions About Financial Aid
Paying for an entrepreneurship degree can seem like a daunting task, especially right out of high school. The cost of higher education is substantial, however, even for working professionals. Fortunately, there are financial aid options available to help limit this fiscal burden. With proper college planning, you may be able to offset some monetary responsibility with financial aid. The main types of aid available are: scholarships, grants, work study, and loans. Depending on the specific award, aid money can be used to pay for tuition, fees, room, board, and/or books.
Scholarships are the best kind of aid because the money awarded does not have to be paid back. These funds are generally provided by individuals or private organizations and can range from a few hundred dollars to a full ride. Applicants may be assessed on academic performance, athletic ability, religious affiliation, career goals, and race. You can apply for and receive multiple business scholarships at a time.
Similar to scholarships, grants do not require repayment. This type of funding may be provided by state governments, the federal government, or an institution itself. Awards can be merit-based, need-based, career-specific, or student-specific.
Work study programs allow students to earn money while working in a federally funded job on campus. These funds are intended to assist with education-related expenses, but can be used as needed.
Students may also take out a federal or private loan to cover higher education expenses. Unlike scholarships, grants, and work study, loan recipients must pay the borrowed amount (plus interest) back over time. Most students prefer federal loans due to lower interest rates, but private loans are often available through banks and credit unions.
Many colleges and universities offer government-funded aid programs. Prospective students are encouraged to submit a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) application to determine the amount of aid they qualify for each year.
Entrepreneur Associations for Students
Students working towards entrepreneur degrees should strongly consider joining one or more entrepreneurial associations. While groups like this are generally seen as meant for professionals, there are numerous organizations that cater to students interested in entrepreneurship as well. Some professional associations also have divisions specifically intended for emerging entrepreneurs.
Membership often offers a wide variety of benefits. While these benefits can vary significantly, most association members gain access to a multitude of resources including training, certification, conferences, and networking opportunities. Some associations even offer scholarships for student members.
Some of the most prominent entrepreneur associations for students include:
- Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO):
The Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO) is a national student organization dedicated to helping young people launch their own businesses. The organization orchestrates conferences, competitions, events, and awards for student entrepreneurs.
- Social Enterprise Alliance (SEA):
Social Enterprise Alliance (SEA) believes in businesses being a force for more effective and sustainable social impact. Professionals and students seeking to learn more about social enterprise can take advantage of numerous membership benefits, including a mentorship program.
- National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO):
The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) is the only due-based organization that represents all women entrepreneurs across all industries. Student members gain access to national events, special tools, e-learning, cutting-edge business information, and discounts.
- National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE):
The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) is the nation’s leading resource for entrepreneurs. As a powerful voice in D.C., the organization offers tools, publications, and scholarships, as well as assistance with legal issues, healthcare, insurance, credit cards, web design, and travel services.
- International Council for Small Business (ICSB):
The International Council for Small Business (ICSB) is the oldest and largest non-profit organization devoted to small businesses internationally. Student members gain access to important business news, journals, events, conferences, training opportunities, and entrepreneurship research data.
Student or Open Access Journals
No matter what industry you are interested in, it’s a good idea to read professional journals. These publications focus on the research and theory that support effective practice. While some professional journals require a paid subscription, there are many available to students for free. There are also numerous open access journals available, which do not require a subscription.
Taking time to read published articles is one of the easiest ways to stay informed about your field. Over time, you will gain a better understanding of how, who, and what is happening, as well as how it may pertain to you and your work. The best professionals let field-relevant research inform their actions in the business world.
Entrepreneur Study Resources
Entrepreneurs often have a long and varied list of responsibilities, especially when building or expanding upon a company with limited manpower. Often, the best way to save money during important transitional periods is to perform the necessary tasks yourself. Learning new skills can be expensive, however, which is why many entrepreneurs seek out less costly alternatives. Fortunately, there are numerous free, high-quality, educational resources available online. These resources can help you develop and hone the necessary skills to excel in your academic and professional pursuits.
- MIT OpenCourseWare:
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers free online classes that cover a variety of topics. The institution offers numerous courses specifically designed for entrepreneurs.
Coursera offers flexible, affordable learning options for those interested in entrepreneurship and other fields. Learners can choose from hundreds of free online courses or earn an online degree/certificate for less.
- Kutztown University:
Kutztown University has one of the largest collections of free, on-demand entrepreneurial training resources in the United States. Courses are appropriate for entrepreneurs, small business owners, and start-ups.
- Open Culture:
Open Culture provides access to professional education resources, including 150 courses on entrepreneurship, finance, technology, and more. Learners can signs up for any Massive Open Online Course listed for free without certificate or credential.
EdX offers access to over 2500 online courses provided by 140 top institutions in the nation. Learners can join for free and sign up for individual entrepreneurship courses or complete programs.
- Saylor Academy:
Saylor Academy helps learners build new skills or work toward a degree at their own pace with free courses. The site has some business courses available for small business managers and entrepreneurs.
Starting, maintaining, and growing a business has never been easier than it is today. Technology is constantly evolving, producing ground-breaking applications that have huge implications for entrepreneur students and professionals. There are countless apps available specifically designed to help you perform extensive research, gather resources, maintain communications, build a brand, reach clients, and manage finances.
If you need to complete a certain task for school or for your start-up, it is likely an application already exists to make the process easier. This is especially good news for entrepreneurs, who often juggle numerous responsibilities at one time. While technology may be unable to make a day last longer, there are now tools available that allow you to get more done in less time and with less effort.
The following apps may be beneficial to students interested in building a business, managing a project, or communicating within a network:
With Flipboard, students can identify markets of interest. The app then curates all the most recent and relevant stories, saving users time sorting through numerous news outlets.
Pocket allows students to save articles, videos, and stories from any publication, page, or app. Users can create their own space filled with information they want to read or view later.
Trello lets students work more collaboratively so they can get more done. Users can create boards, lists, and cards that make organizing and prioritizing projects easy and fun.
The Dropbox platform allows students to store and share files that can be accessed and edited from anywhere in the world. Users can choose to create a free or paid account.
LastPass is an app designed to remember passwords across multiple devices. Students can also save and fill passwords, generate strong passwords, and make secure notes.
Mint helps students effortlessly manage their finances, from balances and bills to credit scores and more. This app makes it easy to create a budget provides suggestions based on previous spending habits.
Buffer allows students to build an audience and grow their brand across multiple social media platforms at a time. Users can craft the perfect post for each network in one place.
While there is no single method of becoming an entrepreneur, there are ways to ensure future success. In addition to studying hard and getting good grades, aspiring entrepreneurs should seriously consider seeking hands-on experience. Internships offer students an opportunity to explore the business world while gaining experience and finding an industry of interest.
Companies and agencies in almost every industry have a need for interns, who provide free or inexpensive work in return for skills-developing experience. Many colleges and universities have internship placement programs, but students can pursue opportunities independently as well. Check local company websites for internship postings and remember that even a small company can provide big professional benefits.
The following websites offer internship opportunities to entrepreneurial graduates:
Resources for Students and Professionals
Entrepreneur Certification Options
Many colleges and universities offer entrepreneurial certificate programs for individuals interested in furthering their education. Certificates broaden professional experience and help deepen understanding of specific topics in business.
Appropriate for both students and seasoned professionals, certificate courses offer an opportunity to develop and hone the skills necessary to start, manage, and improve a business. Emphasis is often placed on critical thinking and advanced communication, as these abilities can help entrepreneurs adjust company tactics in response to an ever-changing economic climate. While curriculums vary, most cover management, finance, basic accounting, and marketing. It is also common for instruction to include dealing with culturally and intellectually diverse clientele, partners, and investors.
Those who manage their own business already may seek an entrepreneurial certificate to demonstrate expertise. Many find certificates beneficial when looking for investors, who are often more confident in well-educated and experienced company managers. This can be much more cost and time effective than pursuing a four-year degree in entrepreneurship.
It is important to realize that some entrepreneurial certificate programs may have admittance prerequisites. Some prestigious programs do require applicants to have a prior degree in business or a related field.
The following are examples of the various entrepreneurial certificates available:
- Innovation and Entrepreneurship Certificate offered by the Harvard Division of Continuing Education
- General Business Studies with Concentration in Entrepreneurship offered by the University of California, Los Angeles
- Entrepreneurship Certificate offered by Georgia Tech
- Entrepreneurship and Small Business Certification offered by Certiport
- Tarkenton Certificate in Entrepreneurship offered by the University of Georgia
Resources for Entrepreneurial Professionals
Professional Entrepreneurial Associations
While joining an entrepreneurial association as a student is recommended, this step is even more important for professionals. This is especially true for those who own and/or manage their own companies. In addition to membership discounts and job resources, there are many benefits associated with joining an association as a professional.
Unlike students, individuals already actively in the workforce often depend on associations and organizations for continuing education. Policies and practices are constantly evolving and it is imperative that you remain up-to-date. Reading journals, attending conferences, and participating in training is how you and your business will remain relevant in an ever-changing world.
Entrepreneurs also benefit extensively from networking. Connecting with other business owners within your industry is a great way to broaden your reach and increase your profitability over time.
Some of the most prominent entrepreneurial associations for professionals include:
- United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE)
- Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO)
- National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)
- National Association of Business Owners & Entrepreneurs (NABOE)
- Association for Entrepreneurship USA (AFEUSA)
- Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC)
- Young President’s Organization (YPO)
Popular Entrepreneur Journals
As an entrepreneur, staying relevant in your industry is essential. One of the best ways to achieve this is by subscribing to and reading professional journals on a regular basis. Publications will help keep you informed regarding policy changes, upcoming events, prominent trends, helpful resources, and new technology.
Some of the most prominent entrepreneur journals are available through professional associations. In many cases, members gain exclusive access to extensive publication databases. While most associations charge yearly membership fees, the cost is nominal and there other benefits generally more than make up for the expense.
- Journal of Small Business & Entrepreneurship for Canadian Council for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (CCSBE)
- Journal of Small Business Management for the International Council for Small Business (ICSB)
- Small Business Economics: An Entrepreneurship Journal offered by the Indiana University Kelley School of Business
- Journal of Small Business and Entrepreneurship Development
- Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal
Conferences for Entrepreneurial Professionals
Another great way to stay updated as an entrepreneur is to attend professional conferences. Each year, there are hundreds of small business and entrepreneurship conferences hosted throughout the world. These events are often reasonably priced (or free) and offer attendees a wide variety of developmental opportunities.
While every conference is different, most provide educational workshops, keynote presentations, and networking opportunities. Additional benefits of attending include expanding your entrepreneurial knowledge, finding solutions to problems, presenting your ideas to others, promoting your brand, and learning beyond your field. Many professionals also find these events helpful because they often encounter new vendors and/or suppliers who can help with business growth and efficiency.
- Small Business Expo:
The Small Business Expo was founded in 2008 and successfully produced over 75 expos. Hosted in 17 major US cities, it is considered America’s biggest event for entrepreneurs and business owners. Attendees have access to numerous workshops, networking opportunities, and leads.
99U is a career resource and annual conference hosted by Adobe. Host in New York City, it provides guides and tips on everything from navigating entrepreneurship to achieving work-life balance. Attendees have access to actionable talks, hands-on workshops, creative studios, and cultural spaces.
- WBENC National Conference & Business Fair:
The WBENC National Conference & Business Fair is a yearly conference hosted by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). Each year, thousands of women entrepreneur and corporation executives enjoy educational programming, inspiring keynotes, networking opportunities, and a pitch competition.
- Global Conference:
The Global Conference is hosted by Startup Grind yearly. It draws 10,000 professionals and is considered one of the most important events for startups. Located in Silicon Valley, attendees participate in nonstop education, inspiration, and invaluable networking.
Other Networking Resources
Networking is one of the most efficient ways to develop knowledge, gain clients, and promote a brand. As such, it is not surprising that it is a key element in entrepreneurship. The strongest professional business owners have well-established and continually growing networks that enable them to quickly find solutions, establish referrals, and attain goals. Other networking benefits include raising your profile, becoming a resource, developing an identity, finding motivation, and having the opportunity to help others.
As previously mentioned, one of the primary reasons to join a professional association is the opportunity to network with like-minded individuals. Many organizations function as a meeting ground for business owners and entrepreneurs and encourage idea sharing and problem solving.
Professionals may also find networking opportunities by engaging on social media platforms, building a relationship with media outlets, participating in local small business community events, organizing an entrepreneur meet-up, and joining a co-working space.