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USF small business center offers entrepreneurship certificate program

— The University of South Florida’s Small Business Development Center is teaming up again with USF Connect to host a six-part series on the basics of starting a business.

The Entrepreneurship Certificate Program begins March 23. Already entrepreneurs starting businesses in the fields of biomedical technology, engineering construction, computer applications and retail have taken advantage of the program, which is open to any kind of business, said Jim Taylor, a consultant for the SBDC, who is in charge of the program.

“The first time we offered it, we had 10 students and the second time, we had 20. We’ll probably cap it at 40, but offer it more than twice a year if the demand warrants,” Taylor said.

“It is a newer partnership we have with USF Connect,” said Stacey Pierce, marketing and communications officer for the small business center. “We felt it would be beneficial to their incubator clients, but also to entrepreneurs from the surrounding area.”

Another upside to holding the classes at USF Connect is that students not only have the expertise of the business center’s guest professionals, but also can speak with the USF Connect mentors, Pierce said.

USF Connect focuses on the needs of Tampa Bay’s technology and bio/life sciences entrepreneurs with two incubators — the TBTI, or Tampa Bay Technology Incubator and the SII, the Student Innovation Incubator. The SBDC is one of 1,200 small business development centers in the country focusing on helping businesses get started and become successful.

The entrepreneurship courses range in price from $10 to $90, but for those who sign up for all six, the cost is $170, a $20 savings.

All classes will be held at USF Connect, located in the USF Research Park at 3720 Spectrum Blvd., Tampa. Each class will begin at 5:30 p.m. and will last from 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

The first class, Greenlight Your Business, is Monday, March 23. This course outlines the best resources and talent a company will need to get started and explores the legal, regulatory and financial matters involved in starting a business. The cost is $10.

The second course, Driving Your Way to Your First Customer, is Wednesday, March 25. Students will learn to create a targeted marketing plan to reach the right customer base, distribution channels and how to build a loyal customer base. This course costs $25.

On Monday, March 30, Boost Your Business Plan students will consider why their company exists, where the business is going and will help them determine a business’s short- and long-term priorities. All tools necessary to complete a business plan will be included, as will a copy of the Ultimate Business Planner software and guide. The cost is $90.

“That class, alone, is worth the entire cost of the program,” Pierce said.

Fuel Your Finances is Wednesday, April 1. This seminar will help students zero in on the right funding choices for their business and how to avoid money scams. A financing veteran will teach entrepreneurs how to ask for a loan, how to prepare for the bank and where to find money in a tight-fisted economy. The cost is $10.

Maintain your Accounting Vehicle, on Monday, April 6, will teach bookkeeping and budgeting, how to classify and record basic business transactions, budget grants and funding, enter data in to an account and more. The cost is $45.

The final course, Steer Clear of Legal Hazards — Risk, Intellectual Property, Human Resources, is Wednesday, April 8. It covers the laws and regulations small business owners are subject to, teaches them how to establish intellectual property and covers legal matters a business may face. The cost is $10.

“We’ve had participants who were new students, to those running companies with revenue of $30 million a year that all found value in the program,” Taylor said.

To register for the six-course series, visit http://sbdctampabay.com, then click on Register for a Class to find the USF Connect link. Those interested are encouraged to register by March 20.

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(813) 259-7127

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