Knowledge is power, and that’s especially true for entrepreneurs competing in today’s fiercely competitive marketplace. Continuing education and training is essential to success. But tuitions are also skyrocketing, and curriculum choices available locally may not include the topics an entrepreneur needs.
Fortunately, there are diverse resources available, through convenient digital portals – and many don’t cost a dime. They deliver excellent content, too. Much of it, in fact, comes directly from world famous universities and corporate leaders. Here are five of the most helpful:
Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, which is part of the Pennsylvania state system of higher education, operates a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) with 44 online learning programs. The institution provides one of the nation’s largest collections of online, free-on-demand entrepreneurial training resources. Content is derived from the SBA, IRS, and other expert sources, with classes on everything from business planning and marketing to legal, financial, and managerial issues and skills.
MIT produces some of the greatest entrepreneurs, innovators, and business leaders in the world. But most people don’t realize that through a donor-supported program called MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW)it shares virtually all of its learning resources. OCW is a web-based platform available anywhere in the world, and grants free access to approximately 2,400 courses at both graduate and undergraduate levels. Topics for entrepreneurs include marketing and planning, operations and strategy, leadership, law, and finance. Because coursework is permanently archived at OCW, it is also conveniently possible to take classes from past years.
One of the most popular and important resources for entrepreneurs is the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), which operates its own SBA Learning Center. The Center provides lots of online classes, free of charge, and most run in 30-minute segments. Topics cover a full range, from how to access money to launch a business to hiring practices, marketing skills, and accounting practices.
Coursera essentially aggregates content from a variety of institutions, making it available on one centralized platform. The majority of the online courses are priced between $30 and $100, and they are open to anyone. Typical classes run for four to six weeks and include features like video lectures, automatic grading, peer-reviewed assignments, and discussion forums. Instructors hail from prestigious institutions such as Duke, Carnegie Mellon, Princeton, Yale, Stanford, The World Bank Group, IBM, and Google.
To understand the digital business world within the context of social media marketing, check out the global training and certification program at Facebook. The program, called Facebook Blueprint, provides dozens of free e-learning classes in more than 15 different categories. It is a great resource to figure out the best way to maximize Facebook advertising dollars and to attract the attention of target audiences to convert them into paying customers.
Google runs a similar kind of program for entrepreneurs wanting to learn to monetize Google Ads. The Academy for Ads courses last from about 45 minutes to half a day, and there is also the chance to complete programs and receive certifications and professional accreditation from Google. Learn about SEO, mobile and display ads, video marketing, and more.