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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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Elise Moreau

Elise helps desk workers lead healthier lifestyles. Visit her website on her profile to get a free list of health hacks.

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Last Updated on July 16, 2020

How to Decline a Job Offer Gracefully (With Email Examples)

How to Decline a Job Offer Gracefully (With Email Examples)

Generally, if you’re in a position to decline a job offer, it’s a high-quality problem. Maybe you were offered a better position at a different company, or perhaps you were offered the same position at a different organization but for better pay (or perks). Or maybe, after sitting down and discussing the offer with your family, you decided that the travel requirements were too intense. Perhaps the company where you currently work agreed to match the new offer, and once you examined the pros and cons, you realized it made more sense to stay.

Whatever the reason[1], your charge now is knowing how to decline a job offer gracefully. As a courtesy to the company who extended you the job offer, you want to decline quickly, giving the hiring manager a chance to make the offer to the candidate who was the runner-up for the job. You also want to express your appreciation. And, given today’s rocky economy, it makes sense to politely decline the job offer in a way that will hopefully keep the door open for you should your circumstances change.

If you’re not sure how to decline a job offer, check out the following tips to get through it.

3 Ways to Decline a Job Offer Gracefully (With Examples)

1. Show Gratitude

The hiring manager likely spent several hours on your job application—between reading your cover letter, reviewing your resume, and interviewing you either in person or via a videoconferencing platform. Recruitment is a long and sometimes tedious process for any employer. There is always competition for every open job, and the hiring manager may have pushed your candidacy over others in the queue.

For these reasons, your note needs to express thoughtfulness and genuine appreciation. That said, it needn’t be lengthy.

The following example is concise and expresses gratitude in several ways, providing a good example for how you can decline a job offer gracefully:

Subject Line: Job Offer – [Your Name]

Dear Mr./Ms. ________[Hiring manager’s last name],

Thank you for offering me the position of _______ [job title] with _________ [company name]. I greatly appreciate the vote of confidence that comes with your offer. However, after carefully considering the opportunities for career advancement, I have decided to stay where I am.

I sincerely thank you for the time and consideration you devoted to my application, interview, and follow-up. I appreciate your graciousness and consummate professionalism throughout.

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I wish you success in all the company’s undertakings that you outlined. Thank you again for extending the opportunity to work with you.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

2. Give a Reason, but Don’t Elaborate

If you had several interviews at the company, then saying why you are turning down the offer shows respect and professional courtesy. It’s fine to say that you took a different job offer, decided to stay at your company, or even felt that the salary was not sufficient. The trick is to say it succinctly.

The following example does just that:

Subject Line: Job Offer – [Your Name]

Dear Mr./Ms. _______ [Hiring manager’s name],

I greatly appreciate your offer of the position of _______ [job title]. I was very impressed with you and the staff members who interviewed me, as well as the direction of the company. I regret, however, that I must decline your offer due to the salary offered.

I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to have met you and your team and to learn about your company. Again, I am grateful for the positive interviewing experience with your company and for the job offer.

I wish great success with your plans to move forward.

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Best regards,

[Your name]

3. Offer to Stay in Touch

This technique isn’t for everyone, but if you felt a strong connection with the person who interviewed you, or if you could see yourself working at the company in a few years, it might make sense to offer to keep in touch.

Remember that hiring managers switch companies, too, and it’s always a good idea to have a hiring manager think well of you!

The following example includes an offer to stay in touch in a gentle way:

Subject Line: Job Offer – [Your Name]

Dear Mr./Ms. ________[Hiring manager’s name],

I am writing to personally thank you for offering me the position of ________ [job title] at _______[company name]. I enjoyed meeting you and having a chance to meet the other members of the team. It was an extremely difficult decision for me, but I have accepted a position at another company.

I genuinely appreciate the time you devoted to interviewing me and to sharing your insights on the direction of the company. I hope we might stay in touch as I value your visionary ideas about our industry’s future.

Again, thank you for your time and consideration, and I wish you all the best for your continued success.

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Respectfully,

[Your name]

Should You Hold out for Your Dream Job?

If you interviewed with two companies, and your dream company is dragging out its decision while your second choice company has made you an offer, what’s the best direction to take? As long as the job offer from your second choice company is in keeping with your goals for upward mobility, added responsibility, and increased salary, you are better off accepting the extended offer for two reasons.

First, the reason the dream company is prolonging the process may be because it has made an offer to another and is negotiating with another candidate. Second, if you accept another offer and withdraw your candidacy from the dream company, the hiring manager will note your desirability to another (possibly competing) employer and may try to recruit you in the future.

It is the epitome of poor form to decline a job after accepting it, even if your dream company finally comes through with an offer. This puts the company that made the original offer in a huge bind, particularly if it has already sent rejections to its other candidates and is taking steps for on-boarding you. This could make you a pariah at the company, and in any industry, news travels fast and far.

The Best Medium for Declining a Job Offer

Should you send your response via email? Or pick up the telephone and call the hiring manager? The most professional response is to use the same method they used to extend you the offer. If they offered you the job via email, then feel free to email your reply. If they called you or left a voicemail message, then picking up the telephone is the preferred method. Do your best to call during business hours.

To be as poised as possible, you may want to write out your rejection and practice saying it a few times. Time it to make sure it does not exceed 30 seconds. (Even if you leave a voicemail, you may need to also write them an email for their records.)

If the hiring manager wants to chat further, don’t give the impression that you want to quickly end the call. Give the conversation your full attention to let the employer know that you value the relationship that you have built. It’s important not to burn bridges if you should decide to apply at the company again in the future—or at another company where the manager happens to transfer to. Remain discreet, but converse with decorum if the other party wants to prolong the conversation.

Dotting I’s and Crossing T’s

Always include your contact information, including your phone number, although the company already has it. Double check your communication for typos. If you know a candidate that you believe would be a perfect fit for the job, you may want to mention it. (First make sure he or she really wants the job, though. Reach out to them before suggesting their name.)

Be sure to send your email within normal business hours. Remember that you are not trying to avoid the hiring manager—you’re opening up a line of communication with her or him that you may well use again down the road.

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When They Go Low, You Go High

Granted, not every potential employer has a winning personality. You may have decided well before the offer was extended that this was not a person with whom you wished to work. Or, the company culture[2] may have felt like it would not be a good fit, and you’ve since corroborated the incompatible impression with people in your network.

Whatever gut feelings signaled to you that you needed to turn down an offer, don’t include or even allude to them in your rejection letter[3]. Stating that the position is not the right fit for you and your career is all that you need to disclose.

This final example is for when you prefer not to disclose the reason for your rejection, and you’re looking for a kind, concise way of turning down the job:

Subject Line: Job Offer – [Your Name]

Dear Mr./Ms. ________[Hiring manager’s name],

I genuinely appreciate your taking the time to interview me and the consideration you gave me as a job candidate. I have, however, decided to decline your offer of the ______ [job title], as I have come to realize that the position is not the right fit for me at this time.

I wish you well in your search for the best-suited candidate.

Cordially,

[Your name]

Final Thoughts

Learning how to decline a job offer politely and professionally will keep you in good graces with the prospective employer and help the person better accept your rejection. Let the person know that your change of heart in pursuing a new job isn’t personal, and that you found the experience rewarding.

When you show gratitude and let the hiring manager know that the time and effort invested in you is appreciated, you continue to strengthen your professional standing.

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Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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