Tuesday, February 7, 2012

small business education opportunities for local entrepreneurs

From multi-week courses to single workshops, a variety of small business education opportunities are available to all Portland entrepreneurs.

Small businesses dominate the Portland marketplace, comprising 95% of all firms and employing 254,000 people, according to the Portland Development Commission. Yet, the PDC also points out that even though “our local economy is populated by thousands of small business enterprises, many... struggle for viability and survival while providing hundreds of thousands of jobs with billions of dollars in payroll."

The best way to ensure you stay in business is to stay educated, whether that’s keeping up with the latest technology or learning a new skill to further expand your business.

If you are looking to start a business or compete in an evolving marketplace, Portland offers many forums for small business education from traditional, multi-week courses to single workshops—and one that even serves cake! Neighborhood Notes has scoured myriad choices to compile a list of interesting and affordable education opportunities.

Pay-As-You-Go Workshops

If you’d just like to take a single, intensive class or join a group of like minds, the following inventive organizations allow you to drop in and out as your schedule allows.

Although there are plenty of laggards out there, search engine marketing (SEM) is hardly some obscure industry; in reality, it’s easily the largest segment of online advertising. Google raked in $36.5 billion in advertising revenues last year, a 29 percent growth over the previous year, and SEMpdx is your local industry resource with a mission "to inform and educate area businesses on the benefits of SEM to bottom line revenue." Search Engine Marketing Professionals of Portland offers monthly events where professional talent comes together to learn and share ideas. Most monthly events are open to anyone who wants to attend and prices range from $20-55, with discounts for members and registering early, plus SEMpdx's big search marketing and social media conference, the annual SearchFest now in its sixth year, is coming up on Feb. 24.

Consulting And Knowledge Exchange has a simple goal: "We believe everyone should follow their dreams and if that dream is to own a business, we want to help." A fresh (now in its sixth week) organization, CAKE helps by organizing "a weekly series of Portland-based, donation-driven, down-and-dirty small business workshops and parties" where guest speakers serve up recipes on brainstorming, branding, market research and more in a casual environment—cake is actually served at every "party." Feel free to donate to the cause, ask tough questions you want answered, or even workshop your own project while picking up "scrappy business hacks for each topic" on Wednesdays from 6-8:30 p.m.

Find more small business education opportunities on Neighborhood Notes.

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