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15 Free And Really Useful Online Courses For Entrepreneurs

15 Free And Really Useful Online Courses For Entrepreneurs

Whether you’re just starting out with your new business idea or you’re a seasoned entrepreneurial professional, learning all about the intricate and artful ways of running your own business is an ongoing process that truly never ends.

And with so many other skilled and experienced professionals being generous enough to share what they know through online video lessons, forum discussions, case study exercises, and other forms of digital and interactive teaching, you’d have to be kind of crazy not to take the opportunity to learn from them.

Even if you’re short on cash, there are loads of online courses for entrepreneurs available out there that won’t cost you a penny. With a click of your mouse, you can start learning about website development, marketing, startup funding, leadership, and all sorts of other areas of business from topic-specific courses that provide you with all the necessary tools.

Have a look through the following free online entrepreneurial courses to see if you, your team, and your business could benefit from any of them.

1. Essentials of Entrepreneurship, University of California, Irvine via Coursera

Becoming an entrepreneur can be an exciting, yet risky, career move. To improve your chances of success, it would be wise to familiarize yourself with the fundamentals of entrepreneurship before diving right in, by enrolling in a free course like Essentials of Entrepreneurship – offered by the University of California, Irvine through Coursera.

The course is interactive, and includes roughly 4 to 8 hours of video lessons accompanied by suggested readings and quizzes. You’ll learn all the essentials, including how to identify opportunity, the skills and tools you need, marketing strategy implementation, the importance of having a business plan, and so much more.

2. How to Build a Startup, Udacity

For those of you who are building their businesses from the ground up, you’re going to want some practical advice. How to Build a Startup from Udacity is unlike any traditional course offered by an academic institution, and instead focuses on teaching entrepreneurs how to quickly come up with ideas to test against the gathering of large amounts of market feedback.

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This particular course can be completed at your own pace, including exercises and projects. Rather than blindly relying on an idea you think you might work for your business, you’ll be able to use this course to find out for sure by getting out in the real world and seeing if consumers are hungry enough for it.

3. Startup Funding for Entrepreneurs, University of Maryland via Coursera

Need funding, but don’t know where to start? An online course from Coursera offered by the University of Maryland can teach you all about how you can get your venture funded, even if you have no real background in business or finance.

The course is delivered in video lecture format and each session runs for four weeks, involving 3 to 5 hours of lectures per week. Designed for both beginners and active entrepreneurs, you’ll learn all about capital structure from new ventures, where to find investors, how to pitch them, and all the processes you need to successfully receive funding.

4. Ignite Your Everyday Creativity, State University of New York via Coursera

No matter what business you’re in, boosting your creativity can help you come up with new ideas, work better with your team, and even get an upper hand on the competition. A free course called Ignite Your Everyday Creativity offered by SUNY via Coursera helps you discover the creativity you already have hiding within you, and shows you how to use it in both your professional and personal life.

The course requires a time commitment of 3 to 4 hours per week and involves lessons delivered through videos, peer evaluations, and weekly forum discussions. In addition to learning how to recognize and harness your own creativity, you’ll also be able to do the same with other people, which may come in handy if you work closely with co-workers.

5. Business Ethics for the Real World, Santa Clara University via Canvas Network

As an entrepreneur, it’s important that you understand the role of ethics in business. Business Ethics for the Real World is a free online course offered by Santa Clara University through Canvas Network, and it’s geared toward every type of business professional including novices, experienced professionals, and even students.

The course allows participants to work at their own pace and focuses on teaching ethical theory that can be applied to real life situations and dilemmas that arise in business. Since it’s designed as an introductory course to business ethics, no prior business background or experience is required.

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6. 21 Critical Lessons for Entrepreneurs, Udemy

To avoid the pitfalls and struggles that come along with being an entrepreneur, learning from others who’ve been through it already can save you lots of time, energy and money. 21 Critical Lessons for Entrepreneurs is a five-star course rated by more than 450 of its students, offering you the best key insights to starting and succeeding with your own business.

The course is two hours in total, broken down into 23 online lectures. For real-world strategies that you can put into action during the early stages of your business development as well as farther down the line as you continue to grow, you’ll want to enroll in this one no matter what stage of business you’re in or what type of background you have.

7. Introduction to Marketing, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania via Coursera

What’s the point of running your own business if you can’t sell anything? An Introduction to Marketing course from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania via Coursera will teach you how to dig down to the root of customers’ wants and needs.

Your course session runs for four weeks, and requires a commitment of roughly 5 to 6 hours of time per week. Find out all you need to know about brand positioning and communication, the customer decision-making process, new market entry, the marketing planning process and proven marketing strategies that work.

8. WordPress Quick Start Course, WP Apprentice

For brand new entrepreneurs or business owners who don’t have a website yet, understanding the basics of website management is important even if you plan to outsource its design and maintenance. You can start learning the ins and outs of WordPress – the internet’s most popular web platform – with free training provided by WP Apprentice.

The course offers 10 free videos that you can watch in under an hour to help you get started with setting up a simple self-hosted WordPress website.

There’s no need to be intimated by all the technical stuff with a course like this which walks you through everything, step by step. You’ll learn how to select the best web host provider, how to install the WordPress CMS, how to use the WordPress Dashboard, how to choose a design theme, how to create content, and lots more.

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9. Social Media Quickstarter, Constant Contact

It’s easy enough to set up a Facebook page or a Twitter profile with your business logo, but do you know how to actually market your business and build a targeted following of fans and customers online? Constant Contact’s Social Media Quickstarter training breaks down everything you need to know to properly market your product or service using social media, without wasting time and effort blasting posts into cyberspace where nobody’s listening.

Training includes step-by-step instructions on marketing techniques for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, YouTube and even your own blog. Each social platform training section is broken down further into mini lessons, so you can focus on the areas you’re most interested in learning.

10. How to Reason and Argue, Duke University via Coursera

Being able to confidently communicate your message with your teammates, customers, partners, and everyone else you deal with as an entrepreneur is absolutely essential. Duke University offers a reasoning course called Think Again: How to Reason and Argue via Coursera, which you should consider taking if you have trouble making great arguments about the things that matter to you the most.

This is a free, 12 week long course that involves a 5 to 6 hour time commitment to watch video lectures and complete short exercises. By the end, you’ll have the knowledge to apply what you learned about analyzing arguments from other people and how to construct your own in the best way that serves your business goals.

11. Fundamentals of Project Planning and Management, University of Virginia via Coursera

Poor project planning and sloppy execution isn’t a habit you want to develop as a business owner, which is why learning the basics of project management could be just what you need to ensure your projects run smoothly from start to finish. To do that, you can enroll in the free Fundamentals of Project Planning and Management offered by the University of Virginia through Coursera.

This course is four weeks long and requires you to commit 2 to 4 hours of your time per week to follow the video lectures and participate in case studies, discussions, and quizzes.

From its teachings, you’ll learn exactly how to plan your projects, understand what makes a project unsuccessful, define and set clear project goals, prioritize objectives, and all sorts of other techniques and processes to ensure every project you initiate is always completed successfully.

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12. Marketing in a Digital World, University of Illinois via Coursera

Smart entrepreneurs know that the internet is playing an increasingly important role in marketing – even for small, local businesses that operate primarily offline. To dive into the world of online marketing, you should consider enrolling in a course called Marketing in the Digital World, offered by the University of Illinois through Coursera.

For this course, you’re expected to spend 6 to 8 hours per week watching the video lectures as well as participating in the exercises, readings, and quizzes – for a total of 12 weeks. Each week’s teachings is based on a case study from a real company, which you’ll use to learn the foundations of marketing and how they’ve shifted toward the digital world.

13. Better Leader, Richer Life, University of Pennsylvania via Coursera

Entrepreneurs often need to brush up on their leadership skills when the time comes to hire more employees, partner with more professionals, or inspire a larger audience. Offered by the University of Pennsylvania via Coursera, a free course called Better Leader, Richer Life can help you develop and fine tune those necessary leadership skills.

The course is 10 weeks long and requires 3 to 8 hours of your time every week to learn from video lectures and weekly assignments, along with a multiple choice exam to take at the end. You’ll learn practical and proven leadership methods that will help you express your core values and build trust among the people around you.

14. Introduction to Financial Accounting, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania via Coursera

Wait, can’t you just hire an accountant for your business? Sure, but even if you do, being able to properly understand common financial documents like balance sheets and income statements should be a goal of yours as someone who runs their own business. You can get started for free with the Introduction to Financial Accounting course via Coursera, offered by the Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania.

You’ll need to commit 6 to 8 hours a week to the course’s video lectures, discussions, and quizzes for a total of four weeks. The course teaches you how to read the three most common types of financial statements and includes teachings on the key principles they’re based on, the vocabulary they use to describe them, and even how to create them yourself.

15. Introduction to Operations Management, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania via Coursera

Anyone who wants to effectively run and manage a business of their own should have some basic knowledge of operations to oversee production. The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania offers a free Introduction to Operations Management course via Coursera.

The course runs for a total of four weeks, with 5 to 7 hours of study time per week involving video lectures, discussions, and quizzes. By the end of it, you’ll be able to identify bottlenecks in your own business, fix problems that are inhibiting productivity, and come up with new ways to improve business processes.

Being an entrepreneur might feel pretty overwhelming at times, but when you have the right training, it doesn’t have to feel that way at all. With so many useful resources that offer both academic and practical insights, and all for free, you can rest easy knowing that you have all the information you need right at your fingertips to make your business a real success.

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Published on September 17, 2018

17 Ways to Ace Your Next Phone Interview And Land the Job You Deserve

17 Ways to Ace Your Next Phone Interview And Land the Job You Deserve

There is one thing standing in the way of you and the job of your dreams: a phone interview. The screening interview is an opportunity for companies to narrow the list of presumably qualified applicants and determine who merits a closer look.

So many candidates exclude themselves from the phone interview by being unprepared or by failing to take this screening session seriously. A phone interview should not block you from living the life you have always imagined.

Here are 17 tips to help you ace your next one:

1. Clear the deck.

If you are reading this blog, you are likely busier than you would prefer or even imagine. Even when you schedule or accept phone interviews, they are likely sandwiched between meetings.

To show up fully present, energized and engaged, I recommend you clear the deck and give yourself at least an hour of uninterrupted time before and 30 minutes following the interview.

You can use the time to mentally prepare, develop a list of questions, rehearse answers to likely questions and ensure you are comfortable and ready for the interview.

2. Look the part.

It is no secret that we perform better when we look and feel the part. If you have a phone interview, dress up for the interview, if dressing up is comfortable and allows you to put your best foot forward.

Even though you will likely do the interview from home or a private location, be sure you are dressed professionally. This will allow you to be fully engaged and present.

In the event, the interviewer asks to connect with you via Zoom, Google Hangout or Skype, you will be prepared.

3. Resend your resume and cover letter prior to the call.

As a courtesy, resend your resume and cover letter prior to your screening interview. You never know if the person interviewing you has had a busy day or if a schedule change forced him or her to work from home rather than the office where the individual has access to their files.

There have been many times in my career where a last-minute change or a mix-up with support staff has left me scrambling at the last minute to find a candidate’s resume. It is quite embarrassing to misplace a resume and ask the interviewee to resubmit it.

You can save the interviewer the trouble and earn extra points by resending both documents in advance of your call. A simple message will suffice, such as “I am looking forward to speaking with you in an hour, and I am resending my resume to ensure it is at the top of your inbox.”

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4. Research the interviewer.

Once your interview is scheduled, be sure to research the person facilitating it.

You will want to Google the person and check their social media accounts. When you research the interviewer, try to get a sense of the individual’s personal and professional interests.

Once you identify those interests, acknowledge them in the interview, but do not dwell on them, because you do not want to make the interviewer uncomfortable. Follow his or her lead. If the interviewer indulges your questions or comments, by all means, continue the conversation.

I am always impressed when someone I am meeting with takes the opportunity to learn something about me ahead of time. This projects interest, which is important in my line of work.

5. Research the company.

In addition to researching the interviewer, be sure to research the company.

Ask people in your network if they know anyone who works or has worked for the organization in question. Conduct a Google search on the company, and be mindful to look beyond the first page of the search query.

If there are yelp reviews on the company, be careful to review those and look for trends as well as how recent the reviews were posted. While more recent reviews are obviously cause for pause, older reviews – depending on their nature – could be problematic as well.

6. Check the staff listing or “About Us” section of the company’s website.

Part of your research into a company is assessing whether you know staff or board members who are connected with the company.

Most organizations list their staff or board members in the “About Us” or “Our Team” section of the website. Prior to a phone interview, check these sections to determine whether you know someone who works for the company. If you do, reach out to that person to request a phone interview to learn more about the company.

7. Remember interviewing is a two-way street.

As much as the company representative wants to learn about you as the interviewee, you will want to learn about the organization.

Try to ferret out information on the company, the job for which you are applying as well as the manager to whom you would report. You will also want to ask questions to assess the interview process.

Additionally, because culture is important and will permit or slow your ability to do your job, ask questions to assess company culture, such as “What do your employees say they like most about working for your organization?” “What do employees say they like least?” “What do you do to create and maintain a healthy workplace culture?”

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8. Develop questions prior to the interview.

Prior to your interview, develop a list of questions about the company, the position for which you are applying, growth opportunities in the company, the ideal candidate for the position, and so forth. This will save you the trouble of thinking of questions on the spot during the interview.

I have found that once I become nervous, it is a lot harder to come up with questions on the spot, and interviews can be anxiety-producing without preparation.

9. Stand during the interview.

I train leaders and, incidentally, graduate students to become spokespersons.

I recommend that they stand during media interviews. I find that it helps the person speaking to project better, and it reduces the urge to get too comfortable in an interview setting and say something that could be too informal.

Similarly, I recommend interviewees stand for at least a portion of their phone interview.

10. Allow the interviewer to talk.

While it is essential you ask questions during an interview, you should not dominate the conversation.

Most people love talking about themselves and the company they represent, and it is your job as the interviewee to walk a fine line between allowing the interviewer to talk and interspersing questions when and where appropriate.

I am not suggesting you remain silent – you want the interviewer to learn about you; but you should ensure that the interviewer has ample opportunity to do what most people do best: talk about themselves and their work.

11. Refrain from multitasking.

We all live hurried lives, and most of us have to-do lists that are impossible to complete.

When we have multiple due dates and obligations, it is typical to want to avail oneself of every seemingly free moment of time.

When conducting or participating in a phone interview, be as present as possible. This means refraining from multitasking, which could mean responding to emails, text messages or social media messages. It could mean researching the company during the interview.

Whatever multitasking means for you, simply do not do it, especially during a screening interview.

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12. Conduct the phone interview in a place where there is minimal noise.

A common thread throughout this post has been that most of us live busy lives. So, it is natural to be on the go.

If you have the luxury of conducting a phone interview from home or a private office where there is minimal noise, do so. You may also rent a co-working space or ask a friend if you can borrow his or her office.

Whatever you do, select a place where there is minimal noise and distraction. The person interviewing you should not have to strain to hear what you are saying or compete with ambient noises.

When I am interviewing a candidate and competing with background noise, I grow frustrated and my focus can shift from getting to know the person to silencing the noise. Do not force your interviewer to choose.

13. Be punctual.

Do not leave the interviewer waiting. This is both rude and unprofessional, and it may count against you.

If you are able to follow my earlier advice and not schedule meetings within an hour of your phone interview, you should have no time being prompt for your discussion.

If you foresee that you will be late, be sure to give the interviewer a heads-up at least 15-20 minutes prior to the start of the call.

14. Focus on how you can and will help.

Let’s face it: people are naturally self-interested.

When you walk into an interview focused on what you can bring and how you can solve a hiring manager’s problems, you will set yourself and your candidacy apart.

Think about the challenges you could potentially solve and then share how your joining the team will benefit the company, not just you.

15. Take the interview seriously.

Do not assume you will have an opportunity to meet face to face with company representatives. Do not discount the weight that may be placed on phone interviews.

I once applied for a position on the East Coast while living on the West Coast. While my first interview was face to face, my interview with one senior leader was over the phone. I walked into the interview thinking it would be less intense than it was.

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From the moment the leader got on the phone with me, I was on my toes. I had to quickly recalibrate to handle the intensity of the questions lobbed on me.

To this day, more than six years later, that phone interview remains one of the most difficult interviews I have ever had. Fortunately for me, I was offered the job, but the experience still stands out as a learning lesson.

16. Send a thank-you note.

Kindness is underrated. We live in a society where most people are overscheduled and overbooked.

When faced with intense pressure, it can be easy to underestimate the role of kindness. But when someone shares a portion of the day with you by granting you an interview, you owe it to that individual and to yourself to send a thank-you note following the interview.

The note can be via email, a standard letter or a card. So few people do this that those who do stand out.

Become an individual who remembers this gesture of kindness and professional courtesy.

17. Be positive.

Energy really is contagious. If you don’t believe me, consider locking yourself in a room for one hour with people are upset. By the time you leave the room, you will be upset right along with them. It is natural to mirror the other person even if you do not realize you are doing it.

During your next phone interview, mirror positivity, both about the position, the company and most importantly, your skill sets. The interviewer will pick up on your energy and positivity and that will reflect favorably.

I cannot tell you how many times I have interviewed candidates who communicated no excitement or enthusiasm. Getting through the interview was difficult, not to mention, I kept thinking about what it would be like to work with the person daily.

Being positive not only helps you feel better, it helps the person interviewing you as well.

If you have read this list and want to add other tips, please tweet the link to this article and include the point you believe I missed. Use the hashtag #AceIt when you reach out.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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