From leading fashion brands to multinationals, most large organizations started off as small companies. Small businesses in the United States have grown dramatically in recent years, and takes approximately 30% - 50% of all commercial space. Small businesses play a critical role in the overall development of the economy, and contribute to the GDP. Apart from monetary input, these businesses also provide employment to many citizens.
Did you know that more than 50% of all jobs are with small businesses in the US - Forbes (2013)
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However, starting your own business may require skill, knowledge, and drive. Many people prefer running their own business rather than working for an employer. Approximately 543,000 new businesses are set up every month, out of which many do not survive. The key to launching your own business venture requires perseverance and skill. Many individuals may have the passion and the ambition to work as self-employed, but lack the education. The U.S Small Business Administration is a leading agency that has been set up to provide support and guidance to self-employed individuals, and protect their interests.
Small Business Management Education
There are a number of colleges offering small business management courses and degrees. Individuals who plan to start their own companies are recommended to earn a degree in this field and get the necessary management skills necessary for each of these programs. This will help students learn how to set up their own businesses or work in various business settings.
Masters Degree in Small Business Management
A masters degree in small business management is a graduate degree where students can pursue a master's degree in arts, Master of Science, or a master of business administration with specialization in small business management. Students enrolled in this program learn to apply entrepreneurial concepts and methodologies to their businesses. The program will cover a range of business concepts and principles, and will help students understand the various functions of organizations which typically include finance, human resource and marketing. The coursework is advanced in nature and is aimed towards fulfilling the following objectives:
Provide students with an in depth understanding of current business opportunities, trends, and challenges faced by small businesses.
Help students identify the different forms of small businesses
Understand the legal and ethical issues faced by small businesses
Learn how to apply different leadership strategies in organizations
Understand the role of managerial finance and budgeting
Apply marketing and promotional tactics
Develop a business plan and execute it successfully
The coursework of the degree may vary slightly from college to college. However, it is designed to develop a strong base of theoretical business knowledge. Students cover topics such as venture capital assessment tools, financing startups and entrepreneurship, e-commerce marketing and sustainability, and financing for small businesses. Other important subjects covered in the degree have been described in detail below:
Small business management (2-3 credit hours)
This course will cover the ma underlying principles of management and business life-cycle. Students will learn about small businesses in a global context and will identify the important elements of business sustainability. Topics such as financing/capitalization, entrepreneurship, strategic planning, and human resource are covered.
Small Business finance (2-3 credit hours)
This course will cover the various financial tools used by small business owners. Students will learn how to assess and manage the financial aspects of running a business. Important topics covered in the degree program include financial statement analysis, loan application, financial planning and management.
Marketing Principles (2-3 credit hours)
This course is designed to provide students with a thorough understanding of marketing strategies and tactics. Students will learn how to develop marketing strategies and analyze market trends. Some of the topics covered in this course include: consumer trends, marketing processes, value chains, positioning, and branding.
Managing Early Stage Business and Entrepreneurial Ventures (2-3 credits)
In this course, emphasis is laid upon the implementation of business plans. Students will gain an insight on the risks faced by businesses in the early stages of development.
Human resource management (2-3 credits)
This course is geared towards providing individuals with knowledge regarding labor relations, human behavior, recruitment, and employment laws.
Business continuity (2-3 credit hours)
In this course, students will review the principles of business continuity. The course will cover topics such as business continuity processes, organizational strategy, and professional practices.
Market research (2-3 credit hours)
This course will help students conduct market research. Students will apply various statistical, qualitative, and quantitative methods for research.
Skill development is also an important part of the degree program. All small business managers must develop skills required to set up and manage organizations. Research based projects, assignments, and presentations, students develop the following skills:
Degree completion requirements
The degree completion requirements will vary from college to college. All students enrolled in this program must earn the minimum number of credit hours by completing the coursework and assignments.
The duration of a master’s degree is typically two years. However, it is also a possibility to earn this qualification in less than two years by opting for an accelerated degree-track. There are a number of campus-based schools and online colleges offering accelerated masters degree programs.
Candidates who want to pursue a master's degree in small business management should have a bachelor's degree in a related field. They may also have to provide transcripts, academic and personal references. Other requirements may vary with institutes.
Online Masters in Small Business Management
A number of online schools offer degrees in small business management. These self-paced programs are ideal for busy working professionals who cannot attend regular classes due to their work routine. It is important to enroll in accredited online master programs in small business management. Online learning offers the following benefits:
Low costs- Save time and money on commute
Flexibility and convenience- students can easily study from their home and create their own schedule
Individualized attention- online programs enable students to receive individualized attention from online instructors
Students with a master's degree in small business management can establish their own businesses or pursue careers in different settings. Individuals can pursue opportunities in the field of finance, human resource and even marketing. This program is suitable for entrepreneurs and motivated individuals who wish to set and run their own company on a small scale. The income level is likely to vary with different employers and will depend upon many other factors such as the type of business, location, industry, sales, and market trends.