Starting up a business is daunting at any time, but more so when you don’t have a background in running or operating a business. Many intending and actual entrepreneurs rely on the experience provided by trial and error as well as the knowledge imparted in books and websites to help them along the way. There is another option: formal education on the topic of starting your own business. However, just because ‘a relevant qualification’ is not a formal requirement in becoming an entrepreneur or business owner doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Education in entrepreneurship is recommended: According to the GEM report on Entrepreneurship in Ireland 2008: “participation in education or training in relation to entrepreneurship has positive effects on an individual’s preparedness and their likelihood of be coming an entrepreneur.” So what are the options? First off visit your local county enterprise board’s website to see when their next ‘Start Your Own Business’ course. Also consider local third level institutions and VECs. There are also independent courses run by reliable experts. Higher up the educational ladder are a range of 12-month Enterprise Platform Programmes run in institutes of technology around Ireland. These include: South East Enterprise Platform Programme in Waterford Institute of Technology Novation Enterprise Platform Programme in Dundalk Institute of Technology Create Ireland, IADT Dun Laoghaire IT Carlow’s Enterprise Platform Programme M50 Enterprise Platform Programme in Dublin in participation with Institute of Technology Tallaght and Institute of Technology Blanchardstown, University College Dublin and Dublin City University. Limerick Enterprise Acceleration Platform at Limerick Institute of Technology Genesis Enterprise Programme at Cork Institute of Technology Hothouse in Dublin Institute of Technology Midlands & West Enterprise Programme in Athlone Institute of Technology Young Entrepreneur Programme, Tralee Institute of Technology Enterprise Ireland has an overview of these that can be seen here. Having completed the SEEPP course in WIT last year, I can attest to the usefulness of such a course in getting one on the right road to market research, developing a business plan and bouncing ideas off classmates who have all signed up to a confidentiality agreement. Still not convinced? Research has been completed by WIT on the matter. According to: ‘Enterprise education does make a difference’: entrepreneurs with enterprise education experience far fewer business issues than their counterparts who have not received enterprise education. What are your thoughts?