Sometimes the best things in life really are free — especially when it comes to developing your business skills on a tight budget. Whether you’re in the early stages of business planning or you own a growing business and you’re getting to grips with GST, there are a number of free online resources that can help you get ahead — all you need to invest is your time.
Get ready to launch.
Do you have a great business idea and don’t know where to start? Launching a company can be a daunting task, but help is available in places you might not expect — for example, if you’re a member of the Ottawa Public Library system, you can access a free online guide to starting a small business in Ontario. Banks such as TD offer complimentary online workshops that focus on starting, financing and managing a business, with a focus on the fiscal side. Young entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 39 can seek mentoring and funding advice from Futurpreneur, which also offers free online tools. Provincial organizations such as Small Business BC have online templates and tools that anyone can use to help get a headstart in the business world. And the Government’s Canadian Business Network has a comprehensive list of online advice for a range of businesses — from startups to established operations.
Make taxes less taxing.
Navigating the world of income tax and goods and services taxes can be overwhelming without guidance from a financial advisor. Accountants can help you get everything in order, but there are several free online resources to help you tackle your taxes on your own. The Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) has basic tax courses, and editorial websites such as The Balance offer easy-to-read instructional articles with tax tips, information on allowable expenses and expert advice on setting up a business or launching a freelance career.
Get savvy about social media.
Staying on top of social media trends can be a full-time job. Luckily, there are a number of free resources to help you learn to write compelling e-newsletter and website copy. Social media scheduling systems such as Later have informative blogs and free email courses for users, and Hootsuite offers free Academy courses that cover everything from how to use the platform to the basics of social media marketing. You can learn search engine optimization (SEO) skills through Moz’s free online courses, and HubSpot has a daily email and blog that cover sales and inbound marketing tips.
Diversify your skill set.
Think outside the box and try free online courses from international universities and institutions such as MIT’s entrepreneurial or management modules. Coursera also collates free courses from learning establishments across the world and includes business-focused modules as well as lessons in skills such as photography that can help you build up your brand via social media. Open Culture is another international resource for free online video courses from top institutions.