While pursuing your Master of Business Administration (MBA) can be a great way to increase your business education, it’s not always a feasible option for today’s military spouse entrepreneurs. Between deployments, running a business, and caring for a family, some military spouses need more accessible entrepreneurial education options.
Good news: There are a number of ways to increase your knowledge without spending two years in business school! Check out these four resources offering a valuable business education without requiring 36 graduate-level credit hours:
Thanks to technological advances, aspiring entrepreneurs can access high quality business education from anywhere using a Wi-Fi signal. Reputable online business courses can provide entrepreneurs with the finance, economic, marketing, and strategy fundamentals necessary to establish their own company. Some of these educational courses are offered by business personalities, such as Marie Forleo, while others are offered through accredited academic institutions.
Harvard University (yes, you read that right) recently launched an interactive online business program specifically designed for entrepreneurs. For less than $2,000, students can learn entrepreneurial basics from esteemed Harvard academics through HBX. Taught by Harvard Business School faculty, HBX provides interested students with a unique educational experience that (finally!) doesn’t break the bank.
Multiple organizations within the military community offer entrepreneur workshops to both servicemembers and spouses. Most of these workshops are conducted over a short period of time, and some offer online attendance options. Here’s a list of five military-community specific entrepreneurship workshops or conferences:
- Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans’ Families (EBV-F)
- Inc. Magazine Military Entrepreneur Program
- The MILSPO Project’s MilspoCON
- Techstars Patriot Boot Camp
- Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE)
If 500- and 600-level accredited courses are more your thing, consider pursuing a graduate certificate in business. Most graduate certificate programs require two to six graduate-level classes, many of which are part of accredited MBA programs. Pursuing a for-credit graduate certificate can be a great way to test out post-grad work, while completing credits can be later transferred into a master’s program.
Contact business schools in your region to see what in person graduate certificate programs might be available. Distance learning programs also offer a variety of business-focused graduate certificate options. While hundreds are available, here are a few schools I’ve heard good things about: Colorado State University, Florida Institute of Technology (my alma mater), University of Massachusetts, and University of Notre Dame.
Connecting with experienced entrepreneur mentors can be another great way to increase your business knowledge. Mentors who have ridden the entrepreneur roller coaster highs and lows can help new entrepreneurs navigate the uncertainty that surrounds start-ups and suggest resources to help overcome founder-specific challenges. Some mentors provide regular (weekly or monthly) support sessions, while others prefer taking a more as-needed, goal-oriented approach.
Today’s entrepreneurs have a variety of mentor matching sites and programs available to help them connect with more experienced business professionals. Check out these three mentor matching sites: eMentor (military-community specific),MicroMentor (I volunteer as a mentor here), SCORE (a Small Business Administration program).
As a busy entrepreneur and military spouse, there are a variety of ways to get the business education you need to successfully start and grow your company. While traditional business school programs can be excellent ways to advance your education, many military dependents find themselves unable to make the time and geographic commitments these lengthy programs often require. Consider how online courses, entrepreneur workshops, graduate certificate programs, and experienced mentors could help you along your entrepreneurial journey and provide you the resources necessary to launch your dream business.