What is an Enterprise and Small Business (ESB) certification?

ESB is the first certification product in the Basic Business Certification Program – Certiport. The purpose is to use the ESB exam primarily in academic settings including high schools, vocational schools, colleges, and technical colleges.

Candidates for ESB certification are expected to have key conceptual knowledge of the principles of entrepreneurship and small businesses, although it is not expected from students to have real-world experience as a small business manager in order to pass the exam. 

Successful completion of this certification will validate the skills and knowledge of those students who are interested in working in a medium-sized business profession as a manager and those aspiring to have a career in entrepreneurship and small businesses.

Why should students study and aim for ESB certification?

Whether it’s a beauty salon in a metropolitan city, a fast food outlet, or a suburban auto garage, as an enormous number of small businesses can be found almost anywhere. In fact, according to a recent report from Business.com, “every minute a new business opens and about 50% of the workers by 2020 will be self-employed.” (The State of Small Business in America, 2015, Business.com)

ESB certification engages and prepares those students who will attend post-secondary training or who decide to enter the small business sector immediately after completing secondary education. The entrepreneurship concepts assessed by this certification will ensure that these students are ready for undergraduate and career study.

Entrepreneurship and Small Business Certification Objectives (ESB)

ESB certification is created to test and evaluate basic concepts and knowledge in the management of entrepreneurship and small businesses. These core concepts include entrepreneurship; recognition and evaluation of opportunities; planning for starting and operating a business; marketing and sales; and financial management. For each core concept, the ESB exam will certify knowledge and skills in several specific objectives:


  • Identify the characteristics of entrepreneurs,
  • In a given scenario involving a self-assessment score, identify the strengths weaknesses, risk tolerance identified during the self-assessment,
  • In a given scenario, know a business opportunity,
  • Identify the risks, benefits, opportunities and disadvantages of an entrepreneur.

Opportunity recognition:

  • Identify the benefits and disadvantages of different types of opportunities (e.g. start a new business, buy an existing business, and buy a franchisee),
  • In a given scenario, analyze the demand for goods or services and opportunities in an environment,
  • In a particular sector, identify potential customers or customers for a business,
  • In a given sector, know the innovations that attract customers.

Starting a Business:

  • Identify the goals and value of a business plan,
  • Identify the right legal structure, benefits and disadvantages for different legal structures for a business,
  • In a given scenario, identify the different types of licenses and regulations required,
  • Identify the benefits and disadvantages of different sources of financing for new businesses: Equity (friends / family, ventures), Debts (bank, credit cards, personal loans), and Grants (government, foundation, corporation),
  • In a given scenario, identify the support that is available to businesses at the local and state level,
  • Identify the ethical practices and social responsibilities of a business,
  • Identify possible strategies for pulling a business out of the market.

Business Operations:

  • In a given scenario, identify key positions and needs of human capital (including compensation and benefits),
  • In a given scenario, determine if the work can be done by the owner or whether employees or service providers are needed
  • In a given scenario, identify the necessary taxes,
  • In a given scenario, identify intellectual property issues related to trademarks, copyrights and patents,
  • In a given scenario, identify standard operating procedures (e.g., creation, execution, internal controls, task division),
  • In a given scenario, identify the factors that lead to consistency,
  • In a given scenario, identify the important achievements as part of the development strategy.

Marketing and Sales:

  • In a given scenario, develop a sales strategy and identify the characteristics of a successful sale,
  • In a given scenario, identify and analyze the costs / benefits of finding clients,
  • In a given scenario, identify how to save customers and create a rapport with your winning customers,
  • In a given scenario, determine the value and methods of communication including: web sites, brochures, social media, and advertising.

Financial Management:

  • In a given scenario, interpret basic financial reports such as income statement and balance sheet.
  • In a given scenario, identify the factors that influence the credit risk classification and the importance of a positive credit risk classification
  • In a list of expenses, identify what the fixed costs are and which variables
  • In a given scenario, identify the factors that influence the price for the customer
  • In a given scenario, identify and analyze cash flow, including: accounts receivable, accounts payable, stocks and other liabilities.
  • In a given scenario, create a cash flow budget
  • In a given scenario, identify the break even point between revenue and expenditure for the business.