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Have you ever considered starting your own business? To become an entrepreneur and run a successful business, you’ll need an understanding of areas like business planning, management, marketing, finance, operations and law. You’ll need to know how to find trends, conduct research, and analyze the market to find your niche. You’ll also need problem-solving and communication skills; depending on the size and type of business you want to start, the ability to do fundraising, public speaking and grant writing can be very valuable. Starting and running a business is an ambitious undertaking, but it’s also one that can be personally fulfilling and hopefully financially rewarding!

Developing Your Skills

Starting any organization or business takes knowledge and preparation. At South University, earning your undergraduate or graduate degree in business can give you a solid foundation for pursuing your entrepreneurial goals. Even outside our business programs, many of our programs are designed to prepare students to be leaders in their professions. Equipped with leadership, problem-solving, and communication skills, a wide variety of our graduates have gone on to found and run organizations in the fields of business, healthcare, counseling, accounting, and more.

Resources to Help You Apply Your Knowledge & Build Your Business

If you have a business idea and you’re ready to start planning, you can find many resources in your local community and government. The US Small Business Association offers a wide array of resources and can help you find assistance locally. America’s Small Business Development Center Network is another great place to check out. Or, you can simply search your town name online along with phrases like “small business center,” “small business advising,” or “new business support” and see what comes up. Often, you’ll find local organizations offering consulting for little to no cost for small and new businesses. Score.org, for example, provides a network of business mentors across the country willing to offer their services at no charge. (Their list of startup resources is also a smart thing to bookmark!) Women, minorities and veterans can also find organizations providing targeted and customized assistance and guidance.

Inspiration from the South University Alumni Community

At South University, many of our alumni successfully run their own businesses. Here are a few stories we’ve featured on our blog:

  • Elisabeth Jackman-Knights earned her Bachelor of Business Administration in 2015 from South University’s online programs, and today, her business, Aklipse Asset Management Inc., is a multi-million dollar company that purchases, renovates, rents, and manages rentals and sells residential properties.
  • A three-time grad of South University, Savannah, LaFonda Sloan-Gulley is the founder and owner of MAJOR Tax & Accounting Solutions, which has clients across Maryland, North Carolina and Georgia. (LaFonda earned an Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies in 2014, a Bachelor of Business Administration in 2016, and a Master of Public Administration in 2019.)
  • 2016 Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and 2019 Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling South University, Richmond grad James Harris is the founder of the Men to Heal movement and Healing Hub community center in Richmond, offering holistic programs and classes ranging from yoga and mindfulness to credit building and real estate.
  • 2018 South University, Savannah Doctor of Pharmacy grad Neal Hollis opened Georgetown Drug Company in Savannah in 2020. As the owner and pharmacist-in-charge, he ensures that the pharmacy runs smoothly and that all patients receive the best care possible.

A Story of Finding Opportunities

- From our College of Business Interim Assistant Dean, Michael Pahno

“I never cared to drive a bus or get a commercial driver’s license (a CDL if you’re in the business). My friend Sasha had one and made a good living giving bus tours in Savannah for a company owned by a mutual friend. Savannah is, after all, a great town for that sort of thing. I already owned a tourist newspaper at the time: Savannah Tourist Guide. The newspaper was largely an advertising vehicle that moved tourists through town from one site, and advertiser, to the next. Now, I wanted to start a new tourism business. That’s what made me think of Sasha. But I didn’t want to drive a bus. What else could there be? This question took me to Charleston.

Savannah’s sister city to the north was more advanced in many ways than Savannah. Its tourist markets were more developed at the time, city council more progressive, and funding more readily available. Even at 22, I could see the potential to steal ideas. Steal ideas – what a horrible way to put it. Abscond with grand notions might be better, if not too grandiose. Or, maybe, call it what it is: business. Copycatting, imitating and recreating the wheel have launched many businesses since the dawn of innovation. Quite often, this is how entrepreneurs are born.

Charleston, unlike Savannah, was not created in a grid pattern. The planned squares that dominate and control access to Savannah’s downtown via perpendicular and parallel streets like a giant oak-lined, azalea-strewn, statue-laden checkerboard did not exist in Charleston. Hence, there are fewer bus tours in Charleston; it’s harder to plan routes through Charleston’s smaller, less organized streets. Yet, somehow, Charleston’s tourist business was booming.

I visited and discovered why: Charleston had walking tours—lots of them. Ghost tours, architecture tours, history tours, beer tours and, my favorite, the local gossip tour, were just a few offerings to enjoy. Seeing no need to let good ideas go to waste, I headed home and applied for my second business license. Soon, my new business, Savannah Historic Walking Tours, was up and running.

My point? Opportunities abound! Ideas can always be found in the next market up from yours, providing the markets are similar, of course. Creating and innovating are difficult and costly; never be afraid to copy. Just make sure to do it better than the original. Savannah Historic Walking Tours thrived and grew for two years under my ownership. On September 22, 1993, I sold it to my friend Sasha, who had decided she didn’t like driving buses either.”

Ready to Make Your Move?

Explore the programs at South University to see how we could help prepare you to pursue your vision of owning your own business. Or, get in touch with us at 855-884-2408 to speak with an Admissions Representative today!