With a mission to “empower people to take risks on their own creative gifts,” Bluefield College recently introduced its first-ever professional certificate program for entrepreneur-minded adults interested in launching a new business and small business owners looking to improve business results.
The Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management Certificate Program, which began in August of 2015, is designed to serve a variety of students – those who already own a business, those who dream of starting a business, and those who want to improve business results.
“Today, professional certifications demonstrate commitment to ongoing excellence and help entrepreneurs connect with funding sources,” said BC’s Dr. Sharon Perot, dean of the College of Professional Programs. “Our Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management Certificate Program has an advisory board comprised of successful executives in various industries, including banking, accounting and healthcare, as well as successful business owners committed to helping others.”
In addition, the Business Certificate Program gives recent graduates the additional training they might need to secure employment. It also gives participants the opportunity to network with potential employers, and gives local and regional businesses a convenient way to offer professional development to its workers.
Offered online and in the field, the Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management Certificate Program’s primary goal, according to Dr. Perot, is to foster imagination and inspire an entrepreneurial spirit that enables both today’s business owners and tomorrow’s to discover innovative solutions.
“This program fits busy work and family schedules,” said Dr. Perot, and offers the rigor of an undergraduate level class without the expense of a full undergraduate degree program.”
The online certificate program features 15 academic credit hours of coursework focused on the application of proven small business development and management strategies. Courses include how to fund and find venture capital and how to use Internet marketing strategies, and the classes are based on proven theories related to day-to-day small business management and operations. Learning outcomes include enhanced analytic and creative problem solving skills and development and implementation of innovative solutions. Participants explore project management tools, leadership theories, creation and promotion of branding, and marketing and small business technologies. In fact, they complete the program with the practical skills needed to launch a new business or to take a current one to the next level.
“All of the courses are built to provide additive value to any degree or career path,” said Andrew Lawrence, associate vice president for online programs. “It’s innovative, engaging, and quick to earn.”
The four required courses for 12 credit hours include “Small Business Management,” “Entrepreneurial Finance and Business Planning,” “Strategic Internet Marketing” and “Entrepreneurial Implementation,” a capstone course that teaches students how to finalize a business plan and practice the execution steps needed to manage a successful business. The final business plan is presented to the program’s advisory board for feedback and revisions.
Students also complete one of the following elective courses for three credit hours: “Franchising for the Entrepreneur,” “Ethics for the Entrepreneur,” “New Ventures for the Entrepreneur” or “Leadership and Change Management.” Offered in a blended format of online classes and field-based projects, the curriculum builds community amongst participants and with local or regional businesses.
“More so than ever, today’s business environment is demanding leaders who have an entrepreneur
ial spirit,” said Dr. Perot. “It’s not only what students learn, but how they learn business acumen that sets them apart. In this program, students enhance business communication skills and their technical ‘know-how’ in the creation of websites and through the use of social media tools. They also work on real-world projects with local businesses, getting hands-on, practical experience that is immediately applicable.”
Courses for the program are taught by working professionals and professors with practical experience in small businesses, government, and major corporations.
“This certificate is a professional program that shows our commitment and investment in the southwest Virginia region,” added Dr. Perot. “It is through learning, that people become empowered to take risks on their own creative gifts.”
For more information about the program, visit the BC web site at bluefield.edu/certificate, or contact Dr. Perot by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 276-326-4226. To enroll or for details about registering for the program, contact the BC Admissions Office by email at email@example.com or by phone at 800-872-0175.