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Getting Downsized?
Entrepreneurship Course Offered

Is it possible to start a business with almost no capital and without borrowing?

It may sound too good to be true, but Sam Houston State University's Charles R. B. Stowe will cover just how it can be done in the course "Entrepreneurship" to be offered at the University Center from 6-9 p.m. on Wednesday evenings starting Jan. 21.

Stowe, who authored the text "Personal Entrepreneur's Plan: How to Start Your Own Business with No Investors and No Debt," has been teaching entrepreneurship since 1982. Stowe also participated in venture capital projects for 15 years before joining the SHSU faculty.

The course is almost unique in its approach, according to Stowe, who surveyed 250 courses across the country before settling on the elements he intends to cover.

"First, the emphasis is on realism, not on generating fantasy business plans used to request money from banks or investors," he said. "Second, the course shows that generating wealth is a mental process that anyone can learn."

Stowe disputes the notion that one has to be born an entrepreneur or have a certain personality. He cites studies that show that a large number of entrepreneurs were forced to start their own business because they lost their job and couldn't find employment.

He believes that the process involves self-assessment, assessment of business opportunities, having creative and pragmatic marketing strategies, and an understanding of how to develop a distinctive enterprise that can be sold for more than the tangible value of its assets.

"The course assumes that most people don't have a lot of capital to start a business, which is why the course emphasizes marketing for start up businesses," he said.

Most courses on entrepreneurship emphasize the development of financial projections, said Stowe, but without sales, there is no business.

"The really successful entrepreneurs are not gamblers," he said. "They avoid risk through careful planning and they know when to cut losses and shift strategies."

In teaching the course, Stowe relies heavily on video interviews with entrepreneurs to bring realism into the class. He emphasizes, however, that the real work is done outside the classroom, with Stowe acting not as a teacher but as a consultant.

"The text defines where and how to get information needed to create a wealth-building enterprise," he said. "The answers are not found in libraries but in the real world of business."

Other highlights of the course include an analysis of each participant's personal assets, finding appropriate business opportunities that fit those assets, marketing a product or service, creating a realistic marketing plan, and learning the difference between a "mom and pop" business designed to provide an income versus a truly entrepreneurial venture designed to create wealth.

There are no prerequisites for taking the course, but individuals with work experience and college degrees are especially invited.

"We often have a contingent of returning students who are not pursuing a degree but wish to develop a part time business as insurance against 'downsizing'," said Stowe.

Registration for the entrepreneurship course and others to be taught at the University Center in The Woodlands will be underway Jan. 6 from 4 - 7:30 p.m. and Jan. 7 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Registration and classes will be held at the George P. Mitchell Building, 3232 College Park Drive, The Woodlands.


Media Contact: Frank Krystyniak
Dec. 22, 1997

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