UT, Austin work together to fuel small business

Gefei Liu

UT and the City of Austin are working together to fuel Austin’s small business and enterpise market by providing coursework aimed at launching new businesses.

Recently, the city signed a contract with the University to provide low-cost MBA courses to create job opportunities and fuel the Texas market. Called the Small Business Development Program, the program provides courses that range from entry-level classes that cover the basics of running a business to advanced management strategies classes. 

There are 38,000 small enterprises in Austin, which accounts for 40 percent of local jobs. However, according to data in past years, more than half of small businesses fail in the first five years.

The goal is to provide people with different career backgrounds the necessary knowledge to kick-start a business or expand one. The courses started in May and will continue through October.

Business information specialist T.J. Owens, an instructor for the program, said although future entrepreneurs may open enterprises in different trades, they still share common ground.

“There are a lot of things that could […] cross the border when it comes down to business,” Owens said. “To the point of writing a business plan, those sort of things are what you have to do regardless of any types of business you want to start.”

Hector Martell, who was an architect working in California for 11 years, said his wish for independence drove him to start his own business. He said he is planning to start the business with his wife, who is also an architect.

“We’ve done work in the past and we have projects […] and [are] looking forward to starting our own office,” Martell said.

Looking for partners is another key element in running an enterprise. Ken Mccullough, working to start up a sushi cafe, said he is looking for partners and trying to pinpoint the location of the cafe. He said he is involved in the course for guidance in those issues.

“I have a lot of experience working in restaurants. I know everything about it,” Mccullough said. “I hope someday I can expand my sushi café to my hometown, Hawaii.”