News Column

SBA Makes Online Learning Easier for Small Business Owners

Dec. 4, 2012

Rebecca Villaneda -- HispanicBusiness

Michael Chodos, associate administrator in the SBA's Office of Entrepreneurial Development
Michael Chodos, associate administrator in the SBA's Office of Entrepreneurial Development

The Small Business Administration (SBA) recently announced a redesign of its online learning center, enhancing the way entrepreneurs can search tools to grow their businesses and create jobs.

The SBA Learning Center streamlined its searchable catalog to reduce the number of site pages that users have to visit to find a video or online course, making it easier for end users to find the content they are looking for faster.

Michael Chodos, associate administrator in the SBA's Office of Entrepreneurial Development, gave this search example: If a small-business owner wants to take a course on how to write a business plan, the learning center is a one-stop destination to make searches for course material or any other supporting content easier than combing through multiple pages to find information.

The center also allows SBA to coordinate resources with partner organizations, such as community colleges, to provide this learning material in a format that enables entrepreneurs to reach it at their convenience.

"The Internet is a low-cost, highly effective way to market new products, build a following of loyal customers and reach new customers in markets around the globe," Chodos told HispanicBusiness. "To help more businesses take advantage of these opportunities, the SBA is promoting master online resources with the new Learning Center, broadband adoption, more mobile-friendly resources, and workshops on social media held at our local SBA offices around the country."

Online importance

Chodos said the new "size-up" function allows a small-business owner to find out about competitors before opening or expanding, as well as "benchmarking against competitors, mapping customers, competitors and suppliers, and locating the best places to advertise."

The Learning Center also features a section where business owners can find SBA support services near them by ZIP code and a training program for small businesses to prepare for disasters, especially with the recent damages caused by Hurricane Sandy.

Social media is an important online tool that Chodos recommends business owners learn and utilize.

"Social media is proving to be a helpful tool for small-business owners to compete with larger firms with significant marketing budgets," he said. "Smaller firms can now leverage low-cost options to promote their businesses, reach new audiences and directly connect with their customers with social media."

For those entrepreneurs puzzled by social media's growing popularity, the SBA provides online and real-world training strategies.

"Social media provides a way for small businesses to engage customers directly, building relationships that create the brand loyalty small businesses need to succeed," Chodos said.

To visit the redesigned SBA online Learning Center, click here.

Source: © 2012. All rights reserved.

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