In today's uncertain economy, and with the number of competitors in the marketplace, having knowledge of business concepts can be extremely helpful and perhaps critical to the success of your startup. Because of this, many quality business schools are offering custom business degree programs particularly for entrepreneurs. If you are not in a position to pursue a full-degree program, many accredited business schools also offer certificate programs (often lasting less than a year) or one-off classes on a variety of small business topics. For example, business schools will allow you to take entrepreneurship classes as a "non-degree seeking student."
Here are a few courses you should consider taking if you are looking to hone your startup business skills:
Small Business Accounting (or Financial Accounting) and Taxation
Small business accounting and taxation can be very stressful if you do not know where to start. Not only do you need to organize yourself to keep good financial records, you must pay taxes for your business. Classes in small business accounting will teach you how to setup accounting systems for your business, such as tracking accounts receivable, liabilities, payroll, income before/after taxes, and more. All of which can help you organize your books for tax season. If you cannot find an actual "small business accounting" class, a general, introductory accounting course also will be beneficial. For example, a class in financial accounting. In addition to a class in accounting, consider taking a class in taxation for small businesses. Sometimes, you can take these classes for free from local small business centers that are sponsored by local governments or entrepreneurship centers at university business schools.
In addition to accounting, it is very helpful to take an introductory finance class. In this class, you will learn how to plan for the future. For example, students are taught how to create cash-flow projections, amortize loans, develop initial outlay projections, predict long-term annuity returns, and more. All of which will help you decide if expanding your business will result in long-term capital gains.
Knowing how to develop a strategy for your business also is critical. Classes in strategy, or strategic markets, will teach you how to position your business as a niche, or find a market with growth potential. You will learn how to analyze a market's performance, as well as construct models for the strategic placement of your business. Classes in international strategy are very helpful if you are considering markets outside of your home country.
Venture Capital and Investment
If you are at the point where you want to expand your business but need financial support from investors, a class in venture capital will help you understand how to approach investors and gain support. These types of classes also are very helpful.