We do this by leveraging the wisdom of experienced business owners over professional academics and emphasizing first-hand knowledge over theoretical information.
You will find a broad curriculum of business courses, each carefully selected for content and presentation. All of our courses are offered online and on-demand, allowing you to proceed at your own pace and on your own schedule.
You’ll find courses for new solopreneurs who want to know how to start a business, more advanced courses for more experienced small business owners, and specialized courses dedicated to particular topics.
The small business world is always evolving, and so are we. We are continually adding new instructors and courses to our curriculum, so we encourage you to check in regularly. Please peruse our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.
Founders – Ray Silverstein and Zen Benefiel
Practical Business University’s visionary, Ray Silverstein, saw the need for coursework specific to small business development. His passion is talking business and helping fellow entrepreneurs. He is the author of two business books, The Best Secrets of Great Small Businesses, and The Small Business Survival Guide, and is a blogger for the Phoenix Business Journal.
Ray’s understanding of the power of conversation dates back to the 1980s, when—as the CEO of a hand tool manufacturing business—he qualified for membership in Young Presidents’ Organization, an elite mastermind group. Using the knowledge he acquired there, he grew his company into a multi-million dollar operation, then sold it in 1993 to create his own peer group network, PRO President’s Resource Organization.
Having hosted literally thousands of meetings with peer groups in both Chicago and Phoenix, Ray has acquired an unparalleled wealth of practical business wisdom. He can address nearly any small business challenge, drawing on his vast knowledge of what’s worked (and flopped) for other entrepreneurs.
A veteran facilitator, Ray calls himself “a business coach, mentor and tormentor.” Ray has previous radio experience, a wry sense of humor, and an unlimited storehouse of small business tips and stories. By all means, connect with him across these personal and professional networks.
Practical Business University’s ‘Possibilties Coagulator,’ Zen Benefiel, brought Ray’s vision to reality. Zen began his obsession in helping people becoming a Phoenix, #671, including a BSBA, Secondary Teaching certification and a double Master’s in Business Administration and Organizational Management over 20 years.
His first taste of putting people, places and things to meet goals was as a production control coordinator for an aerospace company with monthly goals of $7 million in shipments. He started Be The Dream during that time (1988), hoping to lead the charge in personal and professional development programs. Through serving as a partnering facilitator for ADOT, DoD, FHWA and National Park Service projects, he’s been on the hot seat in the middle of the room by choice, achieving award-winning performances by the stakeholders.
Dubbed a ‘Possibilities Coagulator’ by Dudley Lynch, author and president of Brain Technologies, Inc., he’s worked with manufacturers, events companies, micro-lending programs, and was a Chief Operating Officer for an entrepreneurial incubator. He’s also a digital designer, social media extrovert and webmaster.
Zen’s had some previous radio television experience, producing and hosting One World, a talk show on how to build community through best practices, on cable access for nearly 3 years with over 120 shows. He’s got a reputation for making his guests feel comfortable and relaxed, even when sensitive subjects come up.