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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.