Whether you’re planning to be an entrepreneur or you want to help run an existing venture, a small business management degree can give you a unique learning experience.
You can learn about key issues and opportunities in the sector while getting hands-on experience in instrumental business areas like sales and human resources.
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There are more options than ever for small businesses, and this future-forward degree can help prepare you for a variety of opportunities in business and finance.
Online Small Business Management Degrees
Running a small business is different from managing a huge corporation with several branches, which is why there are separate skill sets for each.
A degree in small business management can help equip you with the knowledge and skills needed to start and run your own business. If you’re passionate about getting hands-on with small businesses, then this degree could be a more precise fit for your goals than a regular business degree.
Small businesses are generally defined as having less than 500 employees, depending on the industry. They make up a large part of the US economy, and they tend to contribute almost half of the jobs in the country, according to a Census Bureau survey.
Here are some examples of small businesses:
- Tech startups
- Food trucks
- Online stores
- Design studios
- Photography services
- Landscaping businesses
These are only a few examples, but small businesses can be incredibly diverse, with plenty of room to implement your vision. A degree program in small business management introduces you to the major areas of business with an emphasis on how these apply to small businesses.
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Key areas of business include finance, marketing, operations, customer relations, and human resources. Since it’s common to juggle multiple roles at once in a small business, it’s essential to have a solid foundation in these different areas. In a small business management degree program, you can get comfortable with accounting and business finance while learning how to lead people and develop a strategic vision for a company.
You can also find out about special considerations for small businesses, such as securing funding, testing market demand, hiring employees early on, and complying with regulations. Most programs require you to do an internship with a small business, and some may even have you start your own venture.
After this extensive training, graduates are often well-poised to take on various roles in business management, marketing, sales, and even data and business analysis, depending on their interests. Many small business management majors become entrepreneurs and self-employed professionals who own small businesses.
Business and Entrepreneurship Careers & Salaries
A small business entrepreneurship degree program can offer beneficial preparation for diverse careers in business and entrepreneurship. Small business administration requires knowledge about business fundamentals, such as advertising, human resources, and finances. It also requires the entrepreneurial skills to get ideas off the ground.
Small business management graduates can opt to launch their own business or join an existing small business. Because they’re exposed to how a small business runs as a whole, they can pursue careers in marketing, operations, public relations, and more.
When professionals become a part of a small business, they’ll usually have to multitask. For example, they might have to handle both recruitment and logistics in one job. While the focus of this type of degree is on small businesses, it’s also possible for graduates to work in larger companies since many of the business skills they can learn are applicable.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the median salaries for the following business and management roles.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers||$133,380|
|Human Resources Managers||$126,230|
|Market Research Analysts||$63,920|
Management positions often pay the highest median salaries. Even when graduates are trained in management, it often takes at least a few years of experience to secure a leadership position.
Many graduates actually become management, financial, and market research analysts who use problem-solving to optimize businesses. They can also take on innovative roles in product development, business strategy, and project management.
Of course, entrepreneurship is another prominent path. Many small business graduates launch their own businesses—such as e-commerce ventures, restaurants, marketing agencies, and consultancies. Given how flexible entrepreneurship is, they may even freelance, manage several businesses at the same time, or help analyze emerging businesses for investors.
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Many of these business and entrepreneurship jobs are growing faster than average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, especially logisticians and market research analysts.
Small Business Management Curriculum & Courses
Small business management majors often take courses similar to the following:
- Financial Accounting: This course prepares you to understand the flow of financial transactions in companies and to create and interpret basic financial statements.
- Principles of Management: You’ll delve into how organizations and teams are run in general, and you’ll survey different kinds of management, such as financial and supply chain management.
- Human Resources Management: This course examines essential human resources functions, including human resource planning, recruitment, and employee performance management.
- Business Finance: You’ll explore how financial management works in businesses, studying concepts such as capital investments, taxation, interest rates, and corporate derivatives.
- Microeconomics: This course focuses on the factors that affect market economies, such as supply and demand, along with how these affect the behavior of individuals and firms.
- Project Management: You’ll study how to plan, implement, and assess projects, from forecasting costs and challenges to communicating with stakeholders and setting metrics.
- Principles of Marketing: This course teaches you how to analyze a company’s target market and develop comprehensive marketing strategies across various platforms.
- Small Business Management: You’ll learn how to prepare business models and launch small businesses from the ground up while securing funding and complying with government laws.
- Business Law: This course analyzes the common business regulations that companies have to follow, with topics such as contracts, bankruptcy, intellectual property rights, and tax laws.
- Business Information Systems: You’ll explore how to improve business efficiency using data analysis and how to design different types of information systems based on organizational needs.
The coursework for a small business management program overlaps with a regular management degree, but there is more emphasis on entrepreneurship.
Small business management programs tend to require these admissions criteria:
- Official high school transcripts. If you’ve completed any college coursework before, you’ll submit those college transcripts too.
- SAT or ACT scores. Many programs consider your SAT or ACT score and may even set a minimum score for admissions. A growing number of schools, though, no longer require standardized test scores.
- Personal statement. You might be requested to write about your experiences and career aspirations.
- Recommendation letters. These are usually from teachers and school counselors.
If you’ve taken advanced placement (AP) classes in high school, you can submit your scores to see if they’ll count for college credit.
As you search for potential colleges, one factor to look out for is regional accreditation. A regionally accredited school has to meet high educational standards in terms of its programs, facilities, student outcomes, and faculty.
The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) maintains a list of accredited schools in the US. Accreditation has other benefits too. For one, you may be able to get credits transferred more easily for future studies. Attending an accredited institution can also be a precondition for applying for federal financial aid.
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Since accreditation signals quality education, some employers also prefer candidates who studied at an accredited school.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
To pay for your college education, you might consider applying for various forms of financial aid. Many aid options offer partial tuition coverage, and you may be able to combine several to lower tuition costs.
One helpful resource for undergraduates is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). By filling this out, you can apply for loans, grants, and work-study programs from the federal government. Loans are the most easily accessible form of financial aid, but they require repayment with interest once you finish studying. Grants are not repaid, so they’re awarded more selectively.
Like grants, scholarships don’t have to be repaid either. Scholarships, though, are usually given based on merit. There are also scholarships that are only awarded to business students. Most schools offer their own scholarships, but you can also explore scholarship programs offered by outside organizations.
Do You Need a Business Degree to Start a Business?
No, a business degree isn’t required to start a business. Most of the time, starting a business doesn’t require any specific educational credentials. Still, degrees for business owners can be very beneficial. For one, a business degree can teach you about more technical topics, such as accounting, strategic planning, and industry regulations.
You can also practice setting up campaigns and leading projects in a less risky environment. It could be strategic to learn about best business practices in the classroom rather than learning by trial and error with your own company and finances. Plus, a business degree can expand your network and introduce you to peers and mentors in the industry.
What Should I Major in If I Want to Start My Own Business?
If you want a program that focuses on launching a business, then you could benefit from majoring in small business management or entrepreneurship.
There are many other business degrees that are also applicable since there’s plenty of overlap in their coursework. These include:
- Business Management
- Information Systems Management
- Industrial Engineering
- International Business
- Operations Management
All of the majors mentioned will take you through business fundamentals. There are advantages, though, to pursuing an entrepreneur degree. For instance, you’ll receive specialized training in small business practices, and you’ll likely be required to start a business as a component of your program.
If you already have a bachelor’s degree, whether in business or other fields, you may want to look into earning an MBA program for small business owners. A growing number of universities are offering graduate business programs specifically for small business owners.
What Can You Do with a Small Business Management Degree?
A small business management degree provides all-around business training, from taking charge of day-to-day operations to mapping out a strategic direction for a company. You might choose to start your own venture as a small business entrepreneur. Other graduates utilize their business skills in established companies. Having small business management expertise can lead to versatile career options.
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For instance, graduates may work as project managers, marketing officers, sales representatives, financial analysts, management analysts, and human resources coordinators. With experience, you could also pursue more advanced management roles.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Small Business Management Degree Online?
It generally takes 4 years to earn a small business degree online with full-time study. Typically, a bachelors program consists of 120 semester hours. It’s possible to finish faster, and get a business degree online, if you study all year round, including during summer terms.
Online programs tend to offer shorter terms that last 6 weeks or 8 weeks. Some online management degree programs have an even more flexible setup that’s self-paced. This flexibility can be helpful for part-time study as well, though enrolling only part-time will often extend the length of your program.
Is a Degree in Small Business Management Worth It?
Yes, a degree in small business management is worth it for many students. Small businesses are common in the US, making up almost half of the total jobs in the country, according to data from the Census Bureau. In addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 8% job growth for business and financial occupations and 9% job growth for management positions over the next ten years.
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A small business management degree can help you develop essential skill sets in finance, operations, and advertising. This foundation in business and management can help pave the way for entrepreneurial ventures. The business competencies you develop can even be adapted to larger companies as well.
Universities Offering Online Bachelors in Small Business Management Degree Program
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
The BA in Business Management program at Aurora University aims to teach strategic leadership skills. Some classes use open educational resources instead of textbooks, and all classes are taught by expert instructors.
The online format is designed to be both flexible and convenient. Students can choose from several specializations, including Manufacturing Management, Human Resource Management, or Nonprofit Management.
Aurora University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Campbellsville University offers an online program for a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Courses are 8 weeks long, and most students take 4 years to complete the program. Six concentrations are available, including Marketing, Accounting, Management, Human Resource Management, Healthcare Management, and Business Information Technology.
Campbellsville University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
DeVry University offers a specialization in Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship. Students can pursue this specialization as part of a Bachelor’s in Management, Business Administration, or Technical Management. The curriculum covers business plan writing, budgeting, forecasting, customer service, personal service, sales, and marketing.
DeVry University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Husson University offers an online program for a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. The program provides personalized support and experiential learning. There are multiple start dates available each year, and classes have no set meeting times. Coursework includes Managerial Accounting, Business Law I and II, Organization and Management, and more.
Husson University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Lorain County Community College offers an online program for a Bachelor of Science in Commerce, Small Business Management. The program is transfer-friendly and can accommodate both traditional and non-traditional students. The curriculum covers business skills, such as marketing and accounting. Academic advisors are available to help students plan their studies.
Lorain County Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
New Mexico State University offers a Bachelor of Business Administration in General Business. Multiple concentration options are available, including Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship. The degree can be earned entirely online, and online classes are taught by the same faculty members that teach classes on campus.
NMSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Southern New Hampshire University offers a BS in Business Administration with a concentration in Entrepreneurship. Courses include Business Law I and II, Small Business Management, Business Plan Preparation, Principles of Management, Managing and Leading in Business, and more. Applicants do not need SAT or ACT scores to apply.
Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
The University of Arkansas—Little Rock offers an online BBA in Management program. It is designed to prepare students for leadership roles in business. The program uses a traditional academic calendar, with semesters that are 17 weeks long. Courses include Principles of Accounting I and II, Legal Environment of Business, and Data Analysis and Visualization.
UA Little Rock is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Charleston offers a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a major in Management. The degree can be earned online or on campus. Students in the program have opportunities to earn professional certifications in Google Analytics and Microsoft Office and participate in internships. Several areas of emphasis are available, including Small Business Management.
UC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Maine offers a BS in Business Administration in Management. The program can be started in the fall or the spring. Coursework is 100% online and includes Principles of Financial Accounting, Business Finance, Production and Operations Management, The Legal Environment of Business, and more.
The University of Maine is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Getting Your Bachelors in Small Business Management Online
If you’d love to be part of a small business or go into entrepreneurship, you might consider pursuing a degree in small business management.
This program can help equip you with fundamental skills, such as taking charge of projects, assessing business performance, and analyzing a company’s cash flow. There is plenty of opportunity in the small business sector, and you can have the chance to learn about different areas while potentially working on your own venture.
If you want to develop skills and expertise in this growing field, you can research accredited schools and start exploring online small business management programs today.