Taking the time to up-skill, or work on, not in, your business can seem unachievable for small-to-medium business owners. With red tape to manage, legislation to follow, staff to lead and wages to pay, the effort required for further education can seem impossible to fit in.
But to be a successful business owner, continually gaining new skills is vital, in order to keep ahead of trends, industry developments and innovative ways of thinking.
The good news is that thanks to the internet, countless free online courses are within reach, from some of the best knowledge institutions in the world, which can be done in your own time, or by following a short-term schedule.
SmartCompany has tracked down eight great free online courses across finance, marketing, sales, networking and more. Some can be done at any time, while for others you need to register and wait for the next instalment, but they should spark ideas about the learning tools at hand.
1. Prepare for growth
If you are set to grow your business in 2014, this course could inspire. Run by the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, ‘Grow to Greatness: Smart Growth for Private Businesses’ explores common growth challenges and how to overcome them to take your business further.
Management is an all-encompassing word when it comes to SMEs, and so is the breadth of tasks a business owner is required to do. At Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management, the materials from most of its top MBA-level courses are available free online, to access in your own time.
3. Accounting 101
You may hire people to do your accounts, but having skills in this area can ensure you are making informed decisions and feel in control. This course, ‘An Introduction to Financial Accounting’, from Wharton, University of Pennsylvania, proposes to improve fluency in financial accounting and to help you understand how to interpret financial statements.
4. Succeed at self-improvement
As a business owner, setting goals is a day-to-day task, but sticking to goals can be harder; especially if the goals are more personal and involve self-improvement. This course, ‘Unlocking the Immunity to Change: A New Approach to Personal Improvement’ from Harvard, is designed to help you apply new psychological theory about personal change to an improvement-goal of your own.
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