The Small Business Institute of San Francisco City College offers free business classes and a free Small Business Certification program — designed to teach entrepreneurs, business owners and job seekers the complete basics of how to start and operate a successful small business.
Robin Pugh is the coordinator for the Small Business Institute who runs the downtown campus at 88 – 4th Street. “We provide a way to help people realize their dreams,” she said.
Anybody can a take a class at the institute for free.
Many entrepreneurs come to the institute to learn how to put their business ideas into reality, while others learn the ropes of what it takes to manage a successful small business, or to improve their employment marketability.
Pugh said that the small business program offered at the institute is education in its purest form.
Students can take any one class, or any combination of classes that they choose, based on what they want to learn. Classes are “freestanding” without prerequisites, so students can choose from dozens of classes which are grouped into five categories — “starting out,” management, finance, marketing and international business.
Students can also choose to earn a Small Business Certificate that can be finished in one or two semesters. The certification is for students who are serious about starting own business, or for those who want to learn to manage a business.
According to the institute, managers earn an average annual salary of $60,000, and the regional demand for managers is experiencing growth, even in the poor economy.
Tyrone Mullins currently attends the institute. He is a big guy with a body full of tattoos, and he has been to prison before turning his life around.
Mullins comes from a tough part of Hayes Valley, and he came to the institute after joining the nonprofit organization Green Streets — a community-owned and operated green business that manages recycling and composting.
As a key member of Green Streets, a growing organization, Mullins took the initiative and enrolled at the Small Business Institute to educate himself about the latest small business strategies for his organization — including honing their business plan and marketing.
Mullins said that the Small Business Institute was ideal for him, because the classes were flexible, and he could fit them around work and raising his son.
Mullen said that he was amazed at the diversity of the student body, and that he quickly learned to connect with his peers and share ideas. Now, he is out of his neighborhood much of the time, and has a burning motivation to learn and grow.
“Everything I learn at school I bring to work to improve our company,” Mullins said. He added that he appreciates meeting people from outside his neighborhood and talking with them about the world he lives in — the violent world — and that he considers outsiders who do talk with him to be kind.
According to Mullins, people out of his area do not have to deal with so much senseless crime and violence and are not aware of the world he lives in — a world where one can get gunned down for no reason at all — such as his close friend who was recently shot to death while walking his dog.
“It feels good to reach out and talk to other people,” Mullins said.
Another student at the institute, Walter Williams, is completing his certification program this semester. He has saved up some money and intends to start a food truck business.
“The school definitely covered all the basics,” Williams said. He really liked the networking that he did at the school, and said that he was able to bounce his business ideas off the other students, and was impressed by their knowledge.
Coordinator Robin Pugh said that enrolling in the noncredit business classes or the Small Business Certification Program is really simple, and one can sign up online. Visit www.ccsf.edu/bus/small_business
for more information.
Pugh also said that she and the staff at the institute are extremely thankful to the people of San Francisco who supported San Francisco City College by approving Proposition A and Proposition 30, which make programs such as the Small Business Institute possible.
“We had no presumptions that either Prop. A or Prop. 30 would pass — and we are so grateful it did,” Pugh said.