Do I need to do a business course to start a business?

Strategies for Start Ups and Growing SMEs

Do I need to do a business course to start a business?

Do I need to do a business course to start a business? The short answer is…it can’t hurt (much 😉). Any study you do that will enhance your business skills will always be helpful. BUT…the type and length of study is the more important part.

So what business courses can you do?

Vocational Training

The system

In Australia, we have a Nationally Recognised Framework that Recognised Training Organisations (RTOs) need to follow to be allowed to provide you with say, a Certificate IV in Business. This is to ensure that you are getting the same overall skill set no matter what provider you complete it through. The downside with this kind of training is there’s also Government grants available to providers for some courses. This means that sometimes training can be slapped together without any real concern over whether the skills you learn are good enough to make it in the real world. The focus is on delivery, not results. They can also decide what units to include in your courses. So, while learning the MS Office suite may be useful in a business setting, it’s not going to win you any customers.

The costs

If you are offered a course with a Certificate or Diploma included on completion, check exactly what units are in the course and who is going to teach it. And try not to get sucked into 100% online courses for the same price as a face to face (or blended) course. The biggest cost in providing training is the Trainer. If you never speak to anyone then you’re not really getting your money’s worth.

A Certificate or Diploma course can be anything from a few weeks to 2 years. Check the length and whether you can get Recognition for Prior Learning (RPL) for units you already rock at. To do more research on what courses are available, go to  I would recommend a Cert III in Micro Business Operations if you’re thinking of starting a business or a Cert IV in Small Business Management or Cert IV in New Business Management if you’re already getting started.

University degrees

A little longer…a little cleverer

A University degree is a lot longer, at least 3 years, but it will teach you the content as well as a more rounded skill set. University forces you into group work, heavy reading, more detailed analysis and other problem solving skills. A lot more youth are completing university degrees than previously and simply becoming over-qualified unemployed people. If Uni is your path, choose a course that will include some practical experience or a University with a successful work experience placement program or unit (that’s how I found my first professional job). There’s no point studying if you can’t use what you’ve learned. One of the key pillars to learning is practice, practice, practice!

Career options

The other great thing about Uni is it can lead you to more professional careers like Science, Medicine, Law, Accounting, and Research. These generally need degrees and you can try out some of these topics as ‘electives’ then transfer easily into an area that really inspires you. I did a ‘double degree’ which was amazing. It allowed me to study two entirely different fields with only one extra year of study (they credit units across both degrees where there’s cross-over).

Uni for micro start ups???

Would Uni help you run a profitable business…only if you choose your subjects well, focusing on finance and marketing. But this really is the long way around to starting a business and it won’t show you anything practical about the actual start up phase. Uni will help you go the traditional route of becoming a career professional then transitioning into running your own practice when you’re ready. That’s a longer plan but a very tried and tested one.

Do it if you dream it

If you’ve always dreamed of going to University but thought you weren’t good enough or smart enough to go let me just say this…you don’t go to Uni because you already know it, you go to learn. Start at the beginning, learn all you can and don’t let anybody tell you what you can or can’t do – that’s up to you.

You can research the various Uni degrees in more detail at the Good Universities Guide.  Universities are moving towards a 3 semester system nowadays but still do a Start and Mid Year intake.

Non-accredited Training

These are courses run by business or sector professionals who’ve done the rounds, figured out how to do things the modern way, then are willing to share their knowledge and methods for a price. Even though this sits outside the Government scope for what you ‘should’ be learning, you will probably do better in this type of study. These courses usually get right to the core of what you need to know to just go and do it, without forcing you to submit arbitrary assessments about Ergonomics or running a convergent ad campaign on a $500k budget.

This is smart learning.

Believe it or not, this type of study is usually better value too. Because it’s not subsidised by the Government agenda, the training organisation’s success is completely dependent on providing a worthwhile course for a moderate price tag.

This is the type of learning you would do if you’re just keen to start your business and become profitable through a workable method. These courses are a little harder to find but we will start to build a list on this website so you can see the options and make an informed decision if this is your path.

Stay tuned for the page link…

Finish it!

Whatever course you go with, just make sure you’re committed to completing it. There’s no point paying for something you don’t fully use. If you start an online course and struggle to find the time to do the study, don’t give up…just pause and consider where this will fit into your schedule. A great way to do this is through an Activity Log where you record everything you do for a week then see where you can make very minor changes to swap a less useful activity for your study time. You can do it!!


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