Caution urged over CEO courses

Start-ups should be wary of relying solely on CEO courses, rather than hands-on experience, to gain skills, according to business consultants.


Phoebe Netto, founder and managing director of Good Business Consulting, says she has seen an increase in the number of CEO courses available to small business owners in the last year.


“I think that it would be because people are recognising the real importance of every decision that the business owner makes and the implications that has,” Netto says.


“Also, statistics show an increase in the number of start-ups in Australia. For a lot of people, it’s their first business so most of them haven’t gone to business school but instead have an area of interest or a passion [through which they decide to start a business].”


Netto says while CEO courses can help budding businesspeople, a small business owner needs to be in complete control of their business.


“They need to get as much help as they can but they also need to know everything that’s going on in their business,” she says.


“There are not too many courses that you can go to that give you all the things you need to know right away.”


Netto says in addition to any courses small business owners undertake, they must be prepared to enlist the help of experts to work alongside them as the business develops and specific skills shortages emerge.


“A small business needs to rely on experts in areas such as marketing to help with the skills they don’t have when they first start their business,” she says.


Netto’s comments come on the back of an announcement by the CEO Institute, which has partnered with Mt Eliza Executive Education to offer a Certified CEO Program as a form of accreditation.


With its first intake of CEOs due to commence the program in October, the institute is hoping to become the “gold standard for professional recognition” of CEOs across the Asia Pacific.


Program director Esmé Alfred says while the institute is not suggesting that formal CEO qualifications should be compulsory, there are advantages for those who do opt for formal accreditation.


“High quality accreditation boosts CEO self-confidence and capabilities. Combining accreditation with the CEO’s life experience can positively impact the success and sustainability of a business,” she says.


“[The program] encourages strong reflection on a CEO’s own business, so they will come out of the program with professional and personal development and a plan for their business to shift strategies so that there is a real benefit to the bottom line.”


Netto agrees there are advantages of CEO courses, but doesn’t believe they are crucial to success.


“Obviously someone who has help through education is going to be one step forward, but they will not necessarily be more successful than someone without those qualifications,” she says.


“I know a lot of small business owners and start-ups with highly educated CEOs yet they still make poor business decisions.”


Former NineMSN CEO and StartupSmart mentor Tony Faure agrees any form of training that aids small business owners in their role as CEO is a good idea.


“But I think an awful lot of training happens on the job, particularly in smaller companies,” he says.


Faure says small businesses should get help from as many people as possible, including mentors who have been through the same process, preferably in their particular industry.


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