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15 Affordable Resources for Learning New Business Skills

15 Affordable Resources for Learning New Business Skills

Ask The Entrepreneurs is a regular series where members of the Young Entrepreneur Council are asked a single question that aims to help Lifehack readers level up their own lives, whether in a area of management, communication, business or life in general.

Here’s the question posed in this edition of Ask The Entrepreneurs:

What’s your favorite resource for learning new business skills cheaply?

1. Coursera

Andrew Schrage
    Coursera offers a wide variety of business-related Web courses for free. You can take and complete courses as you wish and communicate with other students.

    Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

     

     

    2. Accelio

    Liam Martin
      Accelio has a number of step-by-step guides written by industry experts (versus some professor). The lessons cover anything and everything — not just business. The unique thing about Accelio is that courses are task-specific, and you only learn what you need to learn.

      Liam Martin, Staff.com

       

       

      3. Experts

      Aaron Schwartz

        Although reading a book or taking an online course is great for learning, as a CEO, my time for self development is limited. To improve different skills, I ask close friends who work for tutorials. Spending two hours taking a friend to dinner and chatting with an expert allows me to focus my questions on the issues that are relevant to my business.

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        Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

         

        4. People Who Are Smarter Than You

        Andy Karuza

          They say wise men learn from other men’s mistakes and fools learn from their own mistakes. Put yourself around people who are smarter than you, and learn from them. In fact, you can learn something from everybody, even people who you would least expect. Also, take the time to read every night from industry experts and thought leaders; it’s free knowledge without the lunch!

          Andy Karuza, brandbuddee

           

          5. AppSumo

          Danny Boice
            AppSumo offers great deals on learning resources and tools. It’s like LivingSocial, except that it solely caters to founders and geeks.

            Danny Boice, Speek

             

             

            6. Lynda.com

            Joe Apfelbaum

              As a busy professional, it’s hard to find time to learn new business skills. I find that every time I learn something new, our business improves. I read a lot of books, but when I don’t have time to read books, I listen to audio interviews and courses. I like Lynda.com for software skills and Mixergy for business skills.

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              Joe Apfelbaum, Ajax Union

               

              7. Audiobooks

              Mark Krassner

                I spent a lot of time following prominent bloggers and reading as much business news as possible. I was becoming the jack-of-all-trades and master of none. Therefore, I decided to read more books that took a deep delve into topics that were important for my business. I struggled with finding time to read and started listening to audiobooks while working out. The results have been powerful.

                Mark Krassner, Knee Walker Central 

                 

                8. Udemy

                Lauren Perkins
                  Udemy is an online education platform that’s ideal for busy entrepreneurs wanting to learn new skills on the go without being fully immersed in a classroom. Topics can range from business foundations to SEO training. The depth and intensity of the courses vary, so it’s perfect if you want to learn the basics of a new skill.

                  Lauren Perkins, Perks Consulting

                   

                  9. Online Communities

                  Phil Laboon

                    I am constantly gaining new insights from reading industry blogs. I’m a big fan of Moz and use them a lot as a resources for insights key to our industry. There are so many low-quality sites trying to pump out false data about our industry, and Moz always seems to do a good job blocking that stuff from their site. I enjoy learning from the different points of view in discussions and forums.

                    Phil Laboon, Eyeflow Internet Marketing

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                    10. Quora

                    Ronnie Castro

                      For getting up the learning curve quickly, nothing beats talking to an expert directly. Quora is a nice alternative where you can find candid thoughts from leaders concerning specific business decisions.

                      Ronnie Castro, Porch

                       

                       

                      11. Mixergy

                      Mike Cuesta
                        Mixergy is where I go to get brutally honest advice and lessons from real entrepreneurs. Andrew Warner who runs Mixergy is an overwhelmingly energetic and transparent interviewer. There are hundreds of interviews from real entrepreneurs who have overcome all sorts of obstacles. Even more impressive is the breadth and depth of companies interviewed — from bootstrappers to VC-backed tech giants.

                        Mike Cuesta, CareCloud

                         

                        12. Peers

                        Natalie McNeil

                          Chances are that you know someone who is strong in one area of business that you would like to learn who could learn something new from you, too. I’ve acquired many new business skills simply by swapping information and training with other successful entrepreneurs. It’s a win-win situation.

                          Natalie MacNeil, She Takes on the World

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                          13. Skillshare

                          Derek Flanzraich
                            Skillshare continues to be the best way to learn something specific at an affordable price from the best teachers.

                            Derek Flanzraich, Greatist

                             

                             

                            14. YFS Magazine

                            Anthony Saladino
                              YFS Magazine provides free, actionable business advice from some of the brightest entrepreneurs worldwide. Regardless of your niche, you will find useful information throughout the website that is sure to help you learn techniques to improve your business.

                              Anthony Saladino, Kitchen Cabinet Kings

                               

                               

                              15. Mozinars

                              Fabian Kaempfer

                                My favorite resource for learning new business skills are webinars from Moz. They’re free webinars with experts in marketing and SEO. The content of each “Mozinar” is very specific, valuable and actionable, rather than general and vague. You can leave a webinar with lots of great insights and tactical approaches you can apply to your own company or situation.

                                Fabian Kaempfer, Chocomize

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                                Last Updated on April 19, 2021

                                The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

                                The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

                                Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

                                The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

                                Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

                                In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

                                When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

                                Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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                                1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

                                When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

                                As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

                                That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

                                The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

                                What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

                                Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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                                There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

                                So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

                                2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

                                When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

                                No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

                                3. Move Your Body

                                A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

                                It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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                                So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

                                4. Connect With Another Person

                                Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

                                One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

                                Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

                                5. Use Your Imagination

                                When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

                                That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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                                And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

                                Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

                                Final Thoughts

                                Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

                                Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

                                More on the Importance of Taking a Break

                                Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

                                Reference

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