Should I Start a Business: Why MOBI and Why Now?
Business ownership as a career opportunity has great appeal for many reasons, and while entrepreneurship is not new, what is it that makes being your own boss so compelling now? And why is MOBI the onramp to starting a business? MOBI Executive Director Drew Starbird, Ph.D., addresses these questions and more.If someone is not aware of MOBI, how would you describe it to them?
MOBI, the My Own Business Institute at Santa Clara University's Leavey School of Business, is the leading source of free online training on how to start a business and make it successful. Our educational content is self-paced, easy to access, covers everything you need to know to start your business with actionable steps, and offers a Certificate of Completion and/or digital badge from Santa Clara University to all participants who pass course requirements.
MOBI has users all over the world (in all 249 countries and territories recognized by the ISO), to what do you attribute its global reach and appeal?
I think the spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and well all over the world. People everywhere are looking for ways to take control of their lives, contribute to their communities, and build a future for their families. Starting and running a successful business is a path to achieving these goals. MOBI doesn’t require advanced degrees, years of experience, or some technological breakthrough. All you need is an understanding of the steps to take, the will to work hard, and the inspiration to stay the course.
MOBI provides free online business training to help people learn how to start a business, or to gain new skills for a business they already have. With other online entrepreneurship learning options out there, what makes MOBI different?
MOBI is different, and better, because it is 100% free, it is accessible to anyone, and it covers the key information you need to start a business. MOBI is for everyone, without the barriers to entry that other courses may have. MOBI doesn’t make any assumptions of educational background, previous business knowledge, or technology experience. You will never be charged for learning with MOBI, and you can access everything online from your phone, computer, or tablet as often as you like. This year we will start offering audio files that can be downloaded and accessed whenever and wherever it is convenient for you. You can find everything you need to get started and grow your business on MOBI’s website, as well as many success stories to inspire you.
According to Business Insider , Americans filed over five million new business applications in 2022, the second most on record, according to UC Census Bureau data. What do you see as the main drivers for more people starting their own businesses at this time?
That is fantastic news! I think the pandemic and the recovery have given people an opportunity to reassess their relationship to work and to their employers. Leading a well-balanced life, making your own decisions, profiting from your own hard work, and understanding that there are different ways to contribute to the community are leading people to think about starting a business. Most of MOBI’s students are solopreneurs who have started one-person businesses that allow them to choose their own hours, determine the clients and customers that they want, and balance work with family life. The MOBI team is proud to support these new business owners.
This information is very promising but it must be weighed against the number of businesses that are exiting. Just a few years ago, the exit rate exceeded the entrance rate for new businesses and, of course, that is unsustainable. Part of what makes MOBI special is that we focus on helping business owners increase the chance of success by avoiding common mistakes. Our founder, Phil Holland, had business failures before his successes. Part of his legacy is helping aspiring business owners learn from his mistakes so that they don’t repeat them.
Given this incredible growth in new business creation, or entrepreneurship, why is now the right time for aspiring business owners to learn with MOBI?
Now is the right time to learn with MOBI because now is the right time to start the next chapter in your life. MOBI can give you the tools you need to start that next chapter and achieve your dreams of being a business owner. I don’t want to give the impression that everyone who learns from MOBI starts a business. Sometimes the best thing to learn is that you don’t want to be a business owner. As I mentioned previously, MOBI helps you avoid big mistakes right from the start. As our founder, Phil Holland, used to say, “The biggest mistake that most entrepreneurs make is starting the wrong business.” That’s why the first session of our Starting a Business course is called “Choosing the Right Business.” We want our students to pay special attention to this session. It goes through a five-step process to help you decide if you really want to start a business, if you are ready to take the leap, and to choose the right business for you. Some people will go through this session and decide that they don’t want to start a business. That is a great result!
There is so much to consider when taking the first steps to starting a business, it can feel overwhelming, and aspiring business owners may not know where to start. How does MOBI help people bridge the gap between wanting to start a business and taking the first steps to pursue their dream?
Great question! One of the most important steps aspiring business owners can take is writing a business plan. The process of writing a business plan helps you think about every aspect of your business, to evaluate what you have and what you need, and also to create a blueprint to follow as you begin to pursue business ownership. MOBI not only provides a free Business Plan Template with questions and prompts to help you fill out each section, we also provide information about each topic area in our Starting a Business course. Aspiring business owners who feel they are ready to embark on their entrepreneurship journey, but aren’t sure where to start can take the MOBI Starting a Business course and complete the business plan template along the way. They will be creating their own map to follow as they go!
In the same Business Insider article, it is reported that of the 5.1 million new business applications filed in 2022, 1.7 million were for businesses that are likely to employ workers, according to analysis by Economic Innovation Group. How do you interpret this finding and how might this relate to the online courses provided by MOBI?
Many people associate the term “business” or even “small business” with things that are familiar, like a retail establishment or store, a small restaurant, an organization in an office space, or services like a daycare, a house cleaner, or a gardener. This statistic is interesting because it shows that the majority of new businesses, about 66%, are actually more likely to be one-person businesses. These are probably businesses built on a person’s unique passion, skills, and knowledge. These “solopreneurs” could be florists, bakers, electricians, auto mechanics, accountants, or even lawyers who want to run their own businesses and take control of their own futures. Because MOBI’s courses are accessible online for any level of education, business knowledge, or technical acumen, we empower individuals to explore entrepreneurship and take those first steps if it’s right for them. MOBI has information that addresses the needs of solopreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs, as well as established business owners of larger businesses. Our curriculum can be applied to businesses of all sizes.
Have there been any significant milestones MOBI has achieved in recent years to demonstrate how it is serving aspiring small business owners?
We are very fortunate to have a committed and talented team at MOBI. Over the last eight years, we have added courses, updated content, translated our entire catalog into Spanish, and created partnerships with over 80 organizations in the U.S. and abroad. Just this year, we hit new records in the number of people visiting our website and the number of people enrolling and pursuing MOBI courses.
Keep your eyes on us! This year we plan to start offering our content in audio and video formats to add to our accessibility and usability. We publish a quarterly newsletter which is sent to subscribers and also posted on our website. This is a great way to stay informed about updates to our curriculum, courses, partnerships, and more.
Any last thoughts about the opportunity for aspiring business owners in today’s economy and learning with MOBI?
I think it is really important for aspiring business owners to know what they have ahead of them. Entrepreneurship comes with many challenges and many rewards. Competition can be fierce, markets can change, and the hours can be long. Success will come from dedication, a willingness to learn, and a willingness to change when change is required. It is also important to make sure that your new business is aligned with your skills, passion, experience, and values. You’re going to spend a lot of time on the new business so make sure it is something you enjoy. A solid business plan built on careful and thorough analysis will help you avoid mistakes and increase your chances of success. If you are ready, we are here to help!