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15 Free And Really Useful Online Courses For Entrepreneurs

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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.

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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 August 25, 2021

Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

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Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

As a recruiter, I have met and interviewed hundreds of candidates who have no idea who they are.

Without a personal brand, candidates struggle to answer the question: “tell me about yourself—who are you?” They have no idea about who they are, what their strengths are, and how they can add value to the company. They present their CV’s believing that their CV is the key to their career success. In some ways, your CV still has its use. However, in today’s job market, you need more than a CV to stand out in a crowd.

According to Celinne Da Costa:[1]

“Personal brand is essentially your golden ticket to networking with the right people, getting hired for a dream job, or building an influential business.” She believes that “a strong personal brand allows you to stand out in an oversaturated marketplace by exposing desired audiences to your vision, skillset, and personality in a way that is strategically aligned with your career goals.”

A personal brand opens up your world to so many more career opportunities that you would never have been exposed to with just your CV.

What Is Your Personal Brand?

“Personal branding is how you distinctively market your uniqueness.” —Bernard Kelvin Clive

Today, the job market is very competitive and tough. Having a great CV will only let you go so far because everyone has a CV, but no one else has your distinct personal brand! It is your personal brand that differentiates you from everyone else and that is what people buy—you.

Your personal brand is your mark on the world. It is how people you interact with and the world see you. It is your legacy—it is more important than a business brand because your personal brand lasts forever.

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I have coached people who have very successful careers, and they come to me because they have suddenly found that they are not getting the opportunities or having the conversations that would them to their next role. They are having what I call a “career meltdown,” all because they have no personal brand.

A personal brand helps you become conscious of your differences and your uniqueness. It allows you to position yourself in a way that makes you stand out from the pack, especially among other potential job applicants.

Don’t get me wrong, having a great CV and a great LinkedIn profile is important. However, there are a few steps that you have to take to have a CV and LinkedIn profile that is aligned to who you are, the value you offer to the market, and the personal guarantee that you deliver results.

Building your personal brand is about strategically, creatively, and professionally presenting what makes you, you. Knowing who you are and the value you bring to the table enables you to be more informed, agile, and adaptable to the changing dynamic world of work. This is how you can avoid having a series of career meltdowns.

Your Personal Brand Is Essential for Your Career Success

In her article, Why Personal Branding Is More Important Than Ever, Caroline Castrillon outlines key reasons why a personal brand is essential for career success.

According to Castrillon,[2]

“One reason is that it is more popular for recruiters to use social media during the interview process. According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees.”

The first thing I do as a recruiter when I want to check out a candidate or coaching client is to look them up on LinkedIn or other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Your digital footprint is the window that highlights to the world who you are. When you have no control over how you want to be seen, you are making a big mistake because you are leaving it up to someone else to make a judgment for you as to who you are.

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As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”

In her book, Becoming, Michelle Obama writes about the importance of having a personal brand and her journey to defining her personal brand. She wrote that:

“if you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”

When you have a personal brand, you are in control. You know exactly what people will say about you when you leave the room.

The magic of a personal brand is that gives you control over how you want to be seen in the world. Your confidence and self-belief enable you to leverage opportunities and make informed decisions about your career and your future. You no longer experience the frustrations of a career meltdown or being at a crossroads not knowing what to do next with your career or your life. With a personal brand, you have focus, clarity, and a strategy to move forward toward future success.

Creating your personal brand does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of work and self-reflection. You will be expected to step outside of your comfort zone not once, but many times.

The good news is that the more time you spend outside of your comfort zone, the more you will like being there. Being outside of your comfort zone is where you can test the viability of and fine-tune your personal brand.

5 Key Steps to Creating Your Personal Brand

These five steps will help you create a personal brand that will deliver you the results you desire with your career and in life.

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1. Set Your Personal Goals

What is it that you want to do in the next five years? What will your future self be doing in the next five to ten years? What is important to you? If you can answer these questions, then you are on the right path. If not, then you have to start thinking about them.

2. Create Your Unique Value Proposition

Create your unique value proposition by asking yourself these four questions:

  1. What are your personality features? What benefit do you offer people?
  2. Who are you and why do people enjoy working with you?
  3. What do you do and what do people want you to do for them? How do you solve their problems?
  4. What makes you different from others like you?

The answers to these questions will give you the information you need to create your professional story, which is the key step to creating your personal brand.

3. Write Your Professional Story

Knowing who you are, what you want, and the unique value you offer is essential to you creating your professional story. People remember stories. Your personal story incorporates your value proposition and tells people who you are and what makes you unique. This is what people will remember about you.

4. Determine Which Platforms Will Support Your Personal Brand

Decide which social media accounts and online platforms will best represent your brand and allow you to share your voice. In a professional capacity, having a LinkedIn profile and a CV that reflects your brand is key to your positioning in relation to role opportunities. People will be connecting with you because they will like the story you are telling.

5. Become Recognized for Sharing Your Knowledge and Expertise

A great way for you to promote yourself is by sharing knowledge and helping others. This is where you prove you know your stuff and you gain exposure for doing so. You can do this through social media, writing, commenting, video, joining professional groups, networking, etc. Find your own style and uniqueness and use it to attract clients, the opportunities, or the jobs you desire.

The importance of having a personal brand is not going to go away. In fact, it is the only way where you can stand out and be unique in a complex changing world of work. If you don’t have a personal brand, someone will do it for you. If you let this happen, you have no control and you may not like the story they create.

Standing out from others takes time and investment. Most people cannot make the change by themselves, and this is where engaging a personal brand coach is a viable option to consider.

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As a personal brand coach, working with my clients to create their personal brand is my passion. I love the fact that we can work together to create a personal story that defines exactly what people will say when you leave the room.

Other People’s Stories

Listening to other people’s stories is a great way to learn. In his article, 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding, Rafael Dos Santos presents the best Ted Talks where speakers share their stories about the “why,” “what,” and “how” of personal branding.((GuidedPR: 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding))

Take some time out to listen to these speakers sharing their stories and thoughts about personal branding. You will definitely learn so much about how you can start your journey of defining yourself and taking control of your professional and personal life.

Your personal brand, without a doubt, is your secret weapon to your career success. As Michelle Obama said,

“your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”

So, go own your story. Go on the journey to create your personal brand that defines who you are, highlights your uniqueness, and the value you offer to the world.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Reference

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