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“First Steps”Course Helps New Entrepreneurs in a Down Economy

More Missouri entrepreneurs will gain access to startup business tools when MU Extension’s “First Steps” goes online

March 24, 2010

Story Contact(s):
Kelsey Jackson,, (573) 882-8353

COLUMBIA, Mo. – With today’s economy and high unemployment rate, many people are taking matters into their own hands by starting their own businesses, despite the low success rate for small business startups. Now, the University of Missouri Extension’s Missouri Small Business and Technology Development Centers, with the help of the MU College of Education, is expanding their course, “Starting a Small Business: The First Steps” online, which will provide the opportunity for more Missourians to learn what it takes to start a small business.

“People look at starting a new business when the economy goes bad and they lose their jobs and have to take a second look at their employment prospects,” said Kevin Stover, assistant director for specialized services in the Missouri Small Business and Technology Development Centers. “When starting a business, many people have high hopes and unrealistic expectations. The ‘First Steps’ course gives entrepreneurs a primer to the financial, management and organizational skills needed to start their small business and takes them through the potential minefield of what might happen.”

The “First Steps” course is a 3-hour class offered in locations across the state and led by consultants with academic and professional backgrounds in financing and starting small businesses. Counselors work with potential entrepreneurs to help them validate their business idea and make a ‘go’ or ‘no go’ decision,” Stover said. The Missouri Small Business and Technology Development Centers also offer classes for entrepreneurs with startup or established businesses. Although the current model for the “First Steps” is classroom-based, the online course will move into a problem-based learning approach.

“Often, when people convert a workshop into an online course, they dump text on a computer screen, which makes it difficult for people to absorb the information,” said Dave Jonassen, curator’s professor in the School of Information Science & Learning Technologies at the MU College of Education. “We wanted to do something different and present the information in a way that made sense to the client. The problem-based approach will lead the learner through a discovery process to help make them actively involved and give them better tools for future research.”

Stover said the “First Steps” online course will be available in May. For more information, visit