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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 October 22, 2020

                                2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

                                2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

                                Good things come in twos: Peanut butter and jelly, Day and night, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The same is true for what sparks our creative energy: our thoughts and actions.

                                Creativity is an inside job as much as it is about a conducive schedule, physical environment, and supportive behaviors. By establishing the right internal and external landscape, creativity can blossom from the abstract to the concrete and we can have fun along the way.

                                Sparking creativity is all about setting up the right conditions so a spark is ignited and sustained. The sparks don’t fizzle out. They are allowed to grow and ripen.

                                Think of a garden. Intention alone will not produce the delicious red tomato nor will the readiest seed. That seed needs attention at its nascent stage and as it grows a stalk and produces fruit. If we want to enjoy more than one fruit, we keep at it, cultivating the plant and reaping multiple harvests.

                                Creativity lives in each of us like seeds in the earth or encapsulated in a nut. Seeds of ideas, concepts, designs, stories, images, and even ways of communicating that surprise and delight await activation.

                                By sparking our creative energy, we activate these unique seeds. Like snowflakes, they are of a moment and always without a match. The smallest sparks encourage even the smallest, most dormant seeds to sprout.

                                The good news is that our creative energy wishes to be sparked—to be invited to play. It wants to be our regular playmate.

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                                1. Be Childlike in Your Thoughts, Attitudes, and Approach

                                Being childlike in our thoughts, attitudes, and approach is an easy way to internally have our thoughts be gracious prolific gardeners to our creative energy. If we want it to come out and play and hang around as our regular companion, then let’s return to our 5-year-old selves.

                                Our childhood selves are naturally curious. We still have that curiosity! All we have to do is remind ourselves to get curious. We can do that by simply observing and being with what is in front of us instead of making up a story about what won’t work or why something can’t be done. So, it’s about cultivating curiosity instead of jumping into judgment.

                                Move Your Inner Judge to the Sidelines

                                When we get curious, creativity percolates and, ultimately, takes its place in the world. To give a hand in choosing curiosity over judgment, we can move the judge that also lives inside us to the sidelines. The judge squashes our creative urges, even when they are as small as sharing a point of view. It’s that pesky voice that causes us to doubt ourselves or worry about what others will think.

                                The judge is also risk-averse. The judge likes things to stay the same. Change makes the judge nervous.

                                Creativity is all about risk and changing things up. It needs risk, even failure, to be its naturally innovative, dynamic, impactful self. The judge likes to convince us failure is something to be avoided at all costs.

                                To move the judge to the sidelines and let curiosity reign, we can pay attention to who we are in conversation with and who is calling the shots.

                                Is it the voice of fear, doubt, or anxiety (the inner-critic—the judge’s boss)? Or is it the voice of wisdom, courage, strength, and non-attachment, and of course curiosity (the inner-leader)?

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                                We can easily tell the difference by how each makes us feel. The inner-critic depletes and slows us down, putting roadblocks in the way. The inner-leader energizes and a natural rhythm develops.

                                It’s all about who we spend time with. If we wish to exercise, we will seek out our friends who go to the gym or hike. If we want to lose some weight, we will opt to eat dinner with someone who prefers a healthy spot over fast food.

                                After getting curious, we can honor what our curiosity prompts us to do. The spark can do its job and a fire starts to glow when commitment enters. Our childhood selves were fully committed to being creative. That level of commitment is still something we are very capable of exercising!!

                                Again, we need to let go of the judge. We can ask ourselves, what do we want to commit to—negativity that depletes our creative energy, depth, and output, or the understanding that our thoughts and attitudes matter and that right thoughts and attitudes are the sparks that really let our creativity come alive?

                                Learn to Recall Your Childhood Self

                                To get in touch with that unabashedly committed childhood self, recall your childhood self. If you have a picture, pull one out. Keep it around so you can remember to activate that innate creative nature that was prominent then and wants to be prominent now and always.

                                Soak in the essence of that being. Commit to their commitment to brave and dogged trial and error because it is yours as well. You are that person.

                                Remember how tenacious you were when you wanted to build that sandcastle. You kept at it as the waves came in. You built with fury or reconfigured the walls. Also, remember that there was a willingness to fail since you were as invested in the process as well as the outcome—but less with the outcome. You were willing to experiment and start again. There was vitality—the main lifeline of your creative energy—instead of a rigid attachment.

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                                When you notice you are in conversation with your inner-critic or being held back by it, simply acknowledge, name it, and then switch to your inner-leader by taking a few good deep belly breaths, rubbing two fingertips together, or listening to ambient sounds in the background.

                                Physical movements shift our negative thoughts over to the positive domain of the inner-leader. As our judge continues to sit on the sidelines, our ability to quiet the inner-critic becomes stronger. We taste freedom. A simple taste emboldens us to say no again to the judge and yes to what makes our hearts and spirits sing—our creativity.

                                We begin to spark creativity to the point it no longer needs to be invited to play. It becomes our regular playmate—the younger sibling or the kid next door ready to have some fun, maybe even make some mischief by shaking things up.

                                When we align with our inner-leader and think and act from its promptings, creativity flows up and out with ease, as it needs to!

                                Letting those initial sparks generate a creativity fire that keeps burning is something we can all do! That’s the inside job.

                                2. Listen to Your Inner Leaders of Creative Energy

                                If we listen, our inner-leaders will let us know just what we need to set-up and do in our physical world to maximize that gorgeous, hungry creativity we now have flowing freely in us.

                                The seed has been unlocked! So, now what?

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                                To enable our creative energy to take its form and place outside of us, there needs to be spaciousness! Spaciousness in our physical worlds impacts our internal one. It lets the voice of the inner-leader be heard. It lets creativity have room to be sparked and acted upon.

                                With a little discipline, we can easily create spaciousness in our daily lives—spaciousness that will spark our creativity and let it take shape.

                                So, no matter who you are and what conditions help your creativity thrive, check-out these easy-to-implement basic suggestions:

                                • Reduce or eliminate multi-tasking.
                                • Say yes to what matters and what aligns with your big values and goals.
                                • Say no to all else.
                                • Say no again.
                                • Schedule time in your calendar as you do with other things in your life to just be, to ponder, to let ideas percolate, and to create.
                                • Spend time doing the things that bring out your creative energy. It could be walking, singing, or simply looking out the window.
                                • Meditate.
                                • Breathe—long breaths in and long breaths out through the nose.
                                • Invite your body and heart into your experiences so your mind is a part of you and not all of you.
                                • Try a new thing to spark your creativity. If you spend time running, try a different route. If running feels stale, cruise around a museum, or go for a bike ride.
                                • Play a game. Indoors out or outside. Think of what makes you happy that you haven’t done in a while. Is it a physical game like badminton or cards? Maybe it’s storytelling? Play is creative, and it sparks the creative energy, too.
                                • Spend time in the places that bring out your creativity. What spot in your home could be your spot for entering into that mode? Do you need to get out? Maybe a park bench is the right spot, with a book of poetry, or even nothing at all.
                                • Spend time in nature. Nature brings us to a place of calm and awe and through that our creativity is easily sparked.

                                Final Thoughts

                                These are all habits—habits of mind and habits of doing. Experiment with what works for you. Have fun. If you give even 50% to altering your thoughts and actions, then you will begin to spark your creativity. It takes a lot of curiosity and commitment, but it can definitely be done.

                                Our innate creative energy is a deep source of all that we seek—joy, connection, renewal. It deserves and looks forward to the changes you will make that will let sparks fly and ignite!

                                More Tips to Spark Your Creative Energy

                                Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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