Wallace, president and CEO of Columbia, Maryland-based technology and management consultancy BITHGROUP Technologies, says finding courses that actually pay off has a lot to do with word of mouth. “Reach out to successful people whom you respect and find out what continuing education options they’re taking,” he says, pointing to the SBA, community colleges, and trade associations as good sources. Expect to spend 10% to 17% of your firm’s annual sales on training; opt for a combination of on-the-job, classroom, and online training for maximum results.
Henderson-Townsend suggests signing up for night classes or courses that span only a few weeks. “Some of my peers have signed up for longer-term courses but never finished them because the time commitment was too great,” she says. An added bonus is the camaraderie and networking that take place. “By immersing yourself in a learning environment with other business owners, you’ll find yourself sharing stories and advice that are as important as the actual structural knowledge gained from the experience.”
Ray Sumners, program director for e-business, technical management, and business administration at Westwood College, North Denver, advises entrepreneurs to not rely solely on two-to-three-hour seminars. Too often, these courses are the abridged versions of the real thing.