The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Taking care of business

A new class in the Sacramento City College business department is shifting the way students can do business.

City College now offers “Virtual Entrepreneurship: Creating and Operating a Home-based Online Business,” an online class that explores home-based entrepreneurial business opportunities in the virtual environment. The class is described in City College’s course catalog as placing an emphasis on the individual’s skill set and giving students the tools they need to create and operate an online business.

Lauri Smedley, professor of business technology in City College’s business department, wrote a book and designed a course on virtual entrepreneurship, and the class has been offered at City College since fall 2011 as a guide for students to start up and manage a virtual business. Currently, City College is the only campus in the Los Rios Community College District that offers this course.

Smedley began her venture in the early 1990s as a virtual assistant entrepreneur utilizing skills she acquired working as an administrative assistant for the Sacramento Unified School Board. As
her interest in computers grew, she took a part-time position teaching computer and entrepreneurship courses for Sacramento’s John F. Kennedy High School. To accommodate her work as a teacher and a stay-at-home mom. Smedley says she decided to create a career alternative for herself as a virtual assistant.

“We had a 3-and 5-year-old, and
I really had the desire to be able to be home with them while they were young because they don’t stay young forever,” says Smedley.

Now a full-time professor at City College, Smedley says she recognized the student demand for income source alter- natives and decided to show others how to create their own opportunities through virtual entrepreneurship.

Debra Crumpton, professor of business technology in the City College business department, contributed to the beginning discussions of the book with Smedley. According to Crumpton, the book is a good resource for informing students on an alternative job landscape.

“I tell all my students that everybody should be thinking about some version of entrepreneurship,” says Crumpton. “We should be creating multiple streams of income because our sense of jobs have been redefined.”

The book, used as the textbook for this course, is designed to take students step-by-step through the development of their own virtual small business. Several faculty members in accounting, business law and computer technology participated in the book’s development. It also includes survey responses from approximately 200 practicing virtual entrepreneurs who gave feedback on the operations of their businesses as well as advice for beginning entrepreneurs.

Deborah Saks, dean of the business division at Sacramento City College, says Smedley’s course gives students the busi- ness experience they need to be competitive in today’s job market.

“She works hard with her students,” says Saks. “And teaching students to develop their own business skills is valuable.”

Smedley offers students a comprehensive plan designed to help them go from the start of an idea to operating their own online businesses.

Shanna Stein, a City College professor in accounting and department chair of the business division, contributed to the chapter on finance planning and says she appreciates the book’s well roundedness.

“She knew she wanted to have accounting a part of the book,” says Stein. “Because one of the biggest reasons businesses fail—and I don’t care if they are online or storefront entrepreneurs— people really have these great ideas [and] they start their business and they know their product, but if they don’t know how to do the numbers, it’s very hard to be successful.”

Lisa Sousa-Valle, 42, is working towards her web development and design certification. She is currently enrolled in the course and hopes to support herself with her business venture.

“I was browsing the catalog, and after reading the description I realized this class was what I needed,” says Sousa- Valle. “I want to be able to launch my business and to have it operational by the time I finish this class.”

Smedley initiated the idea for the course after noticing American River College’s class on virtual office careers and technologies. Looking at the curriculum, she thought it was something in which City College students might be interested.

Initially Smedley planned to place more of an emphasis on virtual assisting, but she says she found this was too narrow for students who wanted to develop their own business ideas. She then designed a new course expanding the class’s scope to include home-based virtual entrepreneurship.

“I realized this needs to be more than solely virtual assisting because not everyone who is there wants to be a virtual assistant,” says Smedley.

According to Smedley, as students’ reasons for taking the class evolved, Virtual Office Careers and Technologies evolved into Virtual Entrepreneurship.

“Some people take the class because they have already started their business, but they are not seeing the success they want to see,” says Smedley. “So they take the class to find out if there is something missing, or they need more ideas on something else they could be doing.”

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