Developing a Small Business Educational Program for Growing Rural Businesses
This paper elaborates on the development of a small business certificate program in rural Kansas. Researchers and local practitioners suggest that there are differences between rural and urban small businesses and that most educational programs do not account for these differences. After exploratory research, the university team identified specific needs facing local businesses and tailored a program for their needs. A program structure and set of topics, paired with faculty experts was developed and implemented. Topics focused on developing an entrepreneurial orientation, as well as certain business fundamentals that were deemed critical to small rural businesses. Each topic was oriented toward the rural context where face to face business is more essential. A feedback loop was implemented leading to a shorter 8-week timeframe and some topic adjustments. To date, 378 firms have participated in the program and have shown an 80% survival rate. Specific feedback has indicated that business growth has occurred and that the respondents do perceive development in their entrepreneurial orientation. In addition, specific skill areas related to unique businesses have been improved. Lastly, the program participants have grown their regional business networks, which has been shown to be an important factor for rural business success.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Timothy L. Pett, John Francis, Wendy Veatch
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