Entrepreneurs, small business, and nonprofit managers face many similar challenges to effective operations and management. Established for-profit companies and corporations often have generous expense accounts, assets, and lines of credit available for day-to-day operations. Small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and entrepreneurial startup companies generally do not share this luxury. Therefore, starting a small business and managing a non-profit organization requires not only advanced business knowledge, but also frugality, creativity, perseverance, and ambition.

Nonprofit management pertains exclusively to the administration of a nonprofit organization (NPO). An NPO does not award its profits to owners, managers, or shareholders. These funds are instead used to further the mission of the organization. Common nonprofit organizations include charities and trade unions. Non-profit managers help to develop and implement company procedures and tailor these procedures specifically for nonprofit work. They manage or work as administrators in the non-profit sector, applying for grants, securing volunteer services, and assuring that the specific goals of the non-profit are met.

A small business typically has less than 500 employees; startup companies often having far fewer than that number. Managers or founders of small businesses need to be especially capable in order to ascertain the resources needed for their company to compete with large scale operations. An education focused on small business management provides students the foundation needed to effectively administrate small businesses or pursue their own entrepreneurial endeavors.

Entrepreneurship, Small Business and Nonprofit Career Opportunities

Related Careers: Small Business Managers, Nonprofit Managers, Management Consultants

Career opportunities in this sector are numerous. Anyone with the proper resources and ambition has the ability to start a company or non-profit organization. However, if their endeavors are to be successful, these individuals must have advanced business knowledge. Entrepreneurs greatly benefit from undergraduate or even graduate degrees in business or business management.

For those wishing to enter into a management career with an established small business or non-profit organization, an undergraduate degree or graduate degree is very beneficial. Entrepreneurs invest great amounts of personal time, energy, and resources getting operations off the ground and they are unlikely to trust unqualified individuals with the management of their business or NPO.

Although statistical information, including earnings and employment rate, for non-traditional businesses, i.e., small businesses, non-profits, and start-ups, is less readily available than that of its private/corporate counterparts, the Bureau of Labor Statistics does offer some applicable employment data.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that non-profit businesses have expanded rapidly, 36%, from 1996-2006 and continue at a similar pace. Because the non-profit sector is so expansive, employment opportunities continue to grow with 8.7 million workers employed in 2007.

Small businesses, including start-up companies, have similar growth rates to NPOs. The United States Small Business Administration released a study in 2006 detailing the growth of small businesses. The study showed a fast-paced growth of small businesses from 2000-2006. There were 5.64 million small businesses in 2000. In 2006 the number of small businesses had increased to 6 million. Small businesses make up 99.7% of the nation's employers and 50.2% of private sector employment. As small businesses and start-up companies continue to grow, employment in the small business and entrepreneurial fields will remain strong.

Failure among small businesses and startups is epidemic. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics only 66% of these operations survive their first two years, but the risk can pay off. The richest people in the world, like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, began their business careers as entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurship, Small Business and Nonprofit Skills and Abilities

Entrepreneurs and managers who wish to work with small business and non-profit organizations must possess a number of similar skills. Perseverance and flexibility are essential when dealing with the oft-cited financial difficulties which plague these sectors. Advanced knowledge of business, management, and finance are necessary because managers typically oversee multiple, if not all, operational functions of their businesses/organizations.

Strong networking skills are invaluable when trying to locate and connect with the investors, suppliers, and consumers needed to keep small operations afloat. Excellent leadership and communication skills are important in the tight knit setting of many small businesses and NPOs where managers often work alongside their employees on a day to day basis. Highly organized individuals and candidates with the ability to multi-task are also highly prized in these sectors.

Entrepreneurship, Small Business and Nonprofit Educational Benefits

An undergraduate degree coupled with a graduate degree is often the minimum requirement for entry-level positions in nonprofit management. Many entrepreneurs, small business and non-profit managers receive an initial degree in business, finance, economics, marketing or similar fields.

Candidates also choose to receive an undergraduate or graduate degree in their chosen specialization, such as leadership, non-profit business management, small business management, or a business degree with a focus on entrepreneurship. Specialized degrees focus on the unique elements of non-traditional businesses and help prepare students for future positions within the specialized management realm.

Equally important to a degree is business and/or management experience. An advanced degree and relevant experience will help prepare managers taking the plunge into the demanding world of small businesses and non-profit organizations.

Entrepreneurship, Small Business and Non-profit Management Programs Online

Degrees Possible: Certificate, Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral Degrees

A wide variety of online degree programs are available to students interested in a business management or non-profit/small business management degree. Online degrees in entrepreneurship, small business management and non-profit management are available from the associate's to doctoral level. Online programs are particularly helpful to those students who have earned an initial business or management degree but would like to specialize in small business or NPOmanagement. Online students are able to maintain their employment while earning an advanced degree.

The best online entrepreneurship, small business and non-profit management programs provide an education on par with those found at a local ground schools. As with all educational decisions, do your research when choosing an online degree program at any level: Is the school accredited? Do credits transfer? What are people saying about this program specifically? What are they saying about the school in general? These are all important questions to ask yourself and if you cannot readily find the answer for yourself, do not hesitate to contact the school's admission counselors.

Entrepreneurship, Small Business and Nonprofit Qualification and Advancement

A bachelor's degrees in nonprofit or small business management and strong work experience may qualify candidates for operations management positions in nonprofit organizations or private small businesses.

Additional Information

The US Small Business Administration maintains a Web site at http://www.sba.gov.

The American Small Business Association maintains a Web site at http://www.asbaonline.com.

The Association of Fundraising Professionals maintains a Web site at http://www.afpnet.org.