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    25 May 2013

    Female Entrepreneurs: Best Free Online & Mentoring Programs to Help Your Business

    More than a half a million workers are creating their own jobs every month, according to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity. About one in five of those are started by women, notes Forbes.

    Female-created businesses could be an important key in creating more jobs and helping equalize the pay threshold in the U.S. Small businesses owned by women could create more than 5 million new U. S. jobs by 2018, notes the The Guardian Life Small Business Research Institute. That’s an impressive statistic in any economy, especially one that the US averaged around 160,000 new jobs created every month in 2012.

    With support and education, female entrepreneurs can find success with their own companies, forging their own path and taking advantage of a post-recession growth in new businesses. Female business owners are also more likely to use profit to invest back in the company or further their education.

    Education Growth

    After a female entrepreneur finishes college, where can she turn for an advanced education? How can a hard-working entrepreneur balance an already-established work and family life with new education pursuits? Whether you have a solid plan to start with, or no plan at all, education is key to a business’ success.

    Digital education is becoming more and more flexible, allowing for different learning styles and schedules to successfully complete college courses in a flexible way. Classes can be completed on a laptop, library computer, or even through a smartphone.

    Online College Programs

    Women entrepreneurs can enroll in online college programs that focus on several necessary skills for creating a new business. Examples include:

    • How to manage finances in the beginning stages of a business.
    • How to find investment money.
    • How to foster leaderships skills.
    • How to work with contracts and other legal paperwork.

    Acquiring a variety of skills is important in the current digital age. Using technology to broaden your horizons and look into every possible way to showcase your business is critical for its success.

    Platforms for Online Education

    From the thousands of online education courses offered on the Internet, a few reliable platforms stand out for successful entrepreneurs.

    • CreativeLIVE Inc. hosts a variety of business-themed courses, covering topics ranging from creating your brand to how to market on YouTube.
    • edX hosts college course videos from universities like Harvard, Berkeley and Georgetown. The courses cover business, copyright law and cooking.
    • Khan Academy offers online video courses on the four main categories of STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

    Taking classes beyond the standard business majors can open up new possibilities for business ventures allowing an entrepreneur to learn skills she needs for business as well as skills that apply to the type of business she is creating.

    Accelerators and Incubators

    Accelerators and incubators are great sources of support, education and funding. These support teams can help female entrepreneurs find investors and support needed to get a start-up concept off the ground.

    The accelerators and incubators will invest a small amount of money in exchange for a stake in the business. And some programs have started to accept applicants who have personality and potential, but without an actual startup idea. This early-stage guidance offers lessons in finding initial seed funding, company paperwork, and help with start-up legal advice.

    Some successful accelerators include Y Combinator, Dream It Ventures and Tech Stars. Many of these companies focus on technology-based start ups, where a majority of new businesses are created by men. Local incubators can offer education and mentoring, but also give invaluable insight into area demographics, real estate and more.

    Finding a mentor is important for a small business owner. A mentor can help finesse the mission and goals of a business while providing continuing guidance and support. They may even help find the balancing act between work and family. Small business social network Manta found that 95% of small business owners are also mothers.

    It may still be a struggle to educate yourself while launching a business and caring for a family. But with the resources available through online technology and start-up support, women can succeed.

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