10,000 Small Businesses at Babson College

If you’ve always wanted to enroll in business school, but can’t spare the time or expense, you’re in luck. There are plenty of resources available to help you create a mini-MBA experience that works for you and your company.

One such program, Goldman Sachs’ popular 10,000 Small Businesses initiative at Babson College, is now available across the country, and applications are due October 18. Qualifying applicants have run their company for at least two years, have revenues of at least $150,000 and four or more employees.

Consider this 10 weeks of free b-school. Goldman Sachs created the program in 2009 with a $500 million investment, which, according to them, “aims to unlock the growth and job-creation potential of 10,000 small businesses across the United States through greater access to business education, financial capital and business support services.” The program was previously available in just 15 cities; now business owners from all 50 states can apply.

If you’re accepted, you can expect two, four-day sessions at Babson College (the country’s No. 1 entrepreneurial school according to the US News and World Report rankings) and eight hours of online class time and homework per week, for 10 weeks. You’ll get one-on-one business counseling, the chance to create a customized growth plan and access to a support network of like-minded entrepreneurs and business leaders. Specific, immediately applicable skills the program promises to teach include how to:

  • Identify and evaluate business opportunities
  • Understand and manage the competitive business environment
  • Analyze financial statements
  • Learn about access to financial capital
  • Be a more effective leader
  • Become a more skilled negotiator

Graduates of the program cover the full spectrum of businesses, from waste removal to manufacturing to the restaurant world. According to Goldman, six months after graduating, approximately 63 percent of participants have reported an increase in revenues, 47 percent have reported creating net new jobs and 76 percent are doing business with each other. You can check out some of the entrepreneurs here.

Applications are being accepted now for classes beginning in early 2014. Visit the program website to learn more, or get an application by visiting www.10KSBapply.com or calling (617) 238-3028.

But what if you don’t qualify, aren’t accepted or simply can’t accommodate this? Not to fear — you can still remotely create your own free, miniature MBA. Other options include:

Graduate Certificate Programs

Among others, NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies offers a graduate certificate in Core Business Competencies that can be done remotely (or on site, or a combination of both). And, Stanford’s Graduate School of Business offers an online, distance-learning certificate program that allows you to learn at your own schedule, called the Stanford Innovation and Entrepreneurship Certificate.

Online MBA Classes

Wharton just announced last week that in addition to five elective courses already on the site, it will now make four of its nine required core classes available through Coursera. In effect, this means you can an entire first-year Wharton MBA course load online, for free. You don’t get certification directly from the school, but for a fee, Coursera does give the option of earning a certificate to verify that you’ve done the work.

Beyond Wharton, numerous other b-schools offer free courses online as well. Some, like MIT’s Sloan School of Management, offer their courses directly, while others offer them through Coursera or other similar sites. More of Coursera’s business school partners are viewable here, and Udacity is another comparable site worth checking out.

Khan Academy

Getting away from b-school partnerships, generally boning up on statistics, finance, science, economics and other relevant topics from home is a great way to start investing in your future right now. Khan Academy is a widely praised nonprofit that provides its own free, online classes for anyone, anywhere. One current MBA candidate at Wharton tells us, “I only made it through all the placement exams here because of Khan Academy.”

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