By Scott Wilson
Every business was a new business at some point.
Entrepreneurs are baked in to the very fabric of the American Dream.
There was no such thing as an American automotive industry until Henry Ford started building his own cars; his various startups sparked Cadillac, Dodge, Firestone, and finally the Ford Motor Company itself, today itself worth more than $250 billion.
And Ford wouldn’t have gotten started without his previous job at the Edison Illuminating Company of Detroit, a product of the fertile entrepreneurial mind of Thomas Edison. Edison’s vision led to the creation of the electrification of the country. His inspiration and encouragement of Ford was only one of many seeds planted that led to other great business successes.
Those successes are the country’s successes. In any given year, according to the Chamber of Commerce, nearly half of all American workers are employed by small businesses. And more than 60 percent of new job creation in a year comes from those businesses.
You can grow that number by starting your own business. But you had better be ready for the unique challenges that come with new business ventures. A certificate in business venturing and entrepreneurship will help you prepare.
American Industry is Driven by the Dreams of Entrepreneurs
The American legacy of turning ideas into industry is alive and well today. The country has long led the world in new business formation. That number absolutely exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic; according to the Census Bureau, from an average level just shy of 300,000 new business applications per month, the country spiked to more than 500,000 in 2020, and settled in just north of 400,000 since.
But filing a business application is easy. Making it in the hard world of entrepreneurship is tough.
Twenty percent of new American business ventures will fail in the first year. Only half will make it to the five year mark. Many will never hire a single employee. Some 60 percent continue to face financial difficulties over time.
Successful entrepreneurs face the tough challenge of dreaming big while managing all the details. It takes not just dreams, but business knowledge. And finally, it requires a way to tie those together in sustainable, profitable ways.
Setting Your Own Salary is the Goal
Part of the dream of branching out on your own venture is the knowledge that you will go broke or get rich on your own merits. A new business founder has no one else to blame when they fail. And there is no limit to the profits that will accrue to their success.
Of course, there are big variations between those two extremes. And the profit potential varies according to the type of business and industry you plan to pursue. So, there’s no single number you can put on salaries for entrepreneurs.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics does track self-employment figures for various occupations, however. For self-employed workers in 2021, the average annual income was $52,931 per year.
It’s also important to note, however, that many business structures, such as S or C Corporations, may not reflect self-employment pay. That means the true average is probably considerably higher for most ventures.
Picking a Certificate Program in Entrepreneurship to Meet Your Needs
Entrepreneurs don’t always play by the rules. But you have to know the rules before you can break them, so picking a certificate program with a solid pedigree is important.
Today, that largely means looking at graduate certificates from established colleges and universities with strong business schools.
In many cases, the courses in certificates at this level are identical to those offered in master’s-level programs like an MBA. While a full master’s degree offers a more comprehensive look at business and entrepreneurship, certs are a good way to get the key pieces of the puzzle related to entrepreneurship and ventureship.
You can evaluate certificate programs in the same way that you would look at a full degree, however, considering key factors like:
- Instructor quality and background – Instructors who have seen it all are your best bet to learn business venturing from. A background in entrepreneurship, successful business, and academic accomplishment helps them show you every facet of the venturing journey.
- Reputation and rankings – Schools that have a good buzz in the business community get that reputation for a reason. Look for schools that are highly ranked by third-party organizations and whose names on resumes make interviewers sit up and pay attention.
- Support and resources – Just dumping a bunch of assignments and telling you what textbooks to read isn’t enough for a first-rate certificate program. Look for those with academic counseling, networking support, and resources to help you research and study your ideas.
- Specialty accreditation – Since many of these programs are offered by full-fledged business schools, you can use their specialty accreditation status as a sign of quality. A stamp of approval from the IACBE, ACBSP, or AACSB means professional evaluators have already found many of the features above make the grade for the American business community.
Online Certificate Program Options Offer The Gift of Time To Budding Entrepreneurs
Many of these certificates are available today in online formats. For entrepreneurs, this is a huge gift—it opens up options across the country that you would otherwise have to relocate to attend.
For many people starting up a new business venture, time is at a premium. You may be trying to wedge your studies in with a current job, family, and all your research and efforts at getting your startup off the ground.
Online certificates will give you opportunities to meet for group discussions and projects with professors and classmates but are still largely asynchronous in nature. This means you don’t need to block out precious hours during the busiest times of your day to complete them. Instead, you can shift the times you watch lectures, file your assignments, or interact with professors and classmates around to whenever is convenient.
If that means streaming a lecture right after getting the kids to bed, or finishing up your class project during lunch hour, that’s no problem. You have the freedom you need to get your new startup off the ground without sacrificing your education.
What You Will Learn in A Graduate Certificate Program in Entrepreneurship and Business Ventures
A good certificate program in entrepreneurship will give you the right information and challenges to both foster your creative business ideas and develop the tools to turn those into a sustainable corporation.
It’s important to note that not all entrepreneurial ventures are grounded in the world of for-profit business; many entrepreneurs pursuing certificates may be interested in non-profit or social entrepreneurship as well.
This happens through coursework and a class environment that informs you of general business principles and practices while fostering problem-solving and innovation. You will usually be expected to bring your business ideas to the table and be prepared to workshop. As part of the process, you can expect your ideas to be both challenged and sharpened by professors and other students.
You should learn key skills for the entrepreneur such as:
- Fundraising and investment
- Managing start-up organizations
- Brainstorming processes
- Legal and regulatory requirements
It’s also important to note that entrepreneurship certificates aren’t just aimed at those striking out on their own new business venture. You’ll score plenty of ideas and tools to use in existing businesses looking for innovation and a more entrepreneurial mindset.
Grad-Level Coursework in Venturing and Entrepreneurship Goes To the Heart of Your ideas
Certificate programs only have room for a handful of classes, so the right curriculum is key. In some cases, you’ll have the option of picking from a few electives, but often the coursework is fixed for all students.
Some common classes offered in entrepreneurship certificate programs are:
- Managing Innovation and Corporate Entrepreneurship – The entrepreneurial mindset is important even in existing companies. These classes teach you how to spark innovation and foster creative product development and commercialization in any environment.
- Business Models – Ideas are easy; finding a business model that will turn them into action and profit is hard. Certificate program courses take you through the options and give you the plus and minus of each so you understand the playing field and what the best way to proceed in your own efforts will be.
- Startup Strategies and Business Planning – A business plan can make or break a new startup. You’ll learn how to write and hone these documents that are critical for funding, from loans to venture capital pitches.
- Valuation and Financing – You’ll also learn the common financial models used for putting a price on your company for financing purposes.
- Change and Project Management – If one thing is true about every new company, it’s that they change quickly. Owners who understand how to manage and leverage change, and quickly and effectively execute new projects, come out on top in the fast-paced startup market.
Business venturing takes passion and initiative. No certificate program can teach you those qualities. But with the training and opportunities you do get in a business venturing and entrepreneurship certificate program, you can be sure you are not just spinning your wheels when you put your passions to the test.
2021 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and job market figures for Income Before Taxes: Self-Employment Income by Occupation represent national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed in September 2022.