You don’t have to be going back to school in the traditional sense to get excited about learning something new this fall. These days, anyone with Internet access can educate themselves on how to be an entrepreneur — provided they have the right tools. And the flexibility of online courses suits busy, small business owners perfectly!
Whether you have half an hour once a week or a couple of hours every few days to spend learning, these courses can help you better understand some of the common issues associated with running a small business. Best of all? They’re free.
New and aspiring entrepreneurs can learn how to assess and evaluate new business opportunities through a free tutorial available through the online course marketplace Coursera. With the University of California’s Essentials of Entrepreneurship: Thinking & Action, instructor David Standen touches on what to watch for when considering new businesses, the importance of a business plan and achieving entrepreneurial success.
Today’s business owners need to know how to harness the marketing and branding potential of social media. Ohio State University has a free online course to help you do just that. Available through iTunes, Branding, Content & Social Media shows business owners how to attract the valuable attention of online audiences through branded content using a combination of video and reading material.
Available through the Udemy website, which offers both free and paid online courses, Accounting in 60 Minutes: A Brief Introduction has an enrollment of over 28,000 and enjoys a very respectable 4.5 out of 5 stars from students. Instructor Vince Turner walks you through about an hour of basic accounting principles using whiteboard illustrations, videos and quizzes to reinforce the topics. This includes: the accounting equation, balance sheets, income statements, debits and credits, and a discussion on profits.
Time management for small business owners
Most entrepreneurs are challenged by time management. If you’re looking for ways to get more done in less time, it might be worth investing an hour in Effective Time Management: Get 10X More Done in Less Time. Covering everything from how to eliminate time killers to learning how to identify the top one percent of your business activities that generate the most revenue and profit, this course (also from Udemy) has an average 4.2 stars from over 900 ratings.
Aspiring or struggling business owners in the fashion or food industries may need a hand with innovation. After all, coming up with new ideas in two of the oldest business sectors is challenging. The University of Leeds offers inspiring online video courses called Innovation: The Fashion Industry and Innovation: The Food Industry. These free courses highlight how the big players in each field ideate and innovate to bring new products to market. These lessons are easily applicable to other industries as well. And they take just a couple of hours to watch.
Business through the VC lens
Ever wondered how your business would stand up to scrutiny from an outside investor — someone like a venture capitalist? Take the free, self-paced online course called Entrepreneurship Through the Lens of Venture Capital, available through Stanford University. The course will help you get a clear sense of how VCs evaluate startups when they’re considering investing. By learning the signs of a promising startup, you can better position your own business for growth.
Learning is key to staying at the top of your entrepreneurial game. And while you may not have to take accredited courses to fulfill continuing education requirements like some professions do, the opportunity to learn valuable skills and improve your business is as close as your laptop or tablet.