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10 Free Online Courses That Can Benefit Every Entrepreneur

Enrolling in an online course is always a good way to improve your knowledge and has never been easier or more affordable.

Thomas Smale

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Education-in-business

Every entrepreneur can benefit from continued education. Whether you are just starting out and handling multiple roles within your company or an experienced business owner – enrolling in an online course is always a good way to improve your knowledge and has never been easier or more affordable.

Long gone are the days of taking evening classes at local colleges and paying tuition. You can now take excellent courses in the comfort of your own home for free.

Related: 15 Free Online Courses That Are Actually Worth Your Time

Ebook-learningHere are ten free online courses that every entrepreneur can benefit from.

1. 21 Critical Lessons for Entrepreneurs

This two-hour video course by Docstoc CEO Jason Nazar takes his real-world experience and breaks it into several video lessons that discuss all the important steps of running a successful business, from vetting an idea and raising money from investors to scaling and growth strategies.

There are a lot of coaching and training programs online that are put together by individuals that don’t have real business experience. They make their money by teaching and not by doing. Nazar’s insight is truly valuable because he has been there. He has used the information he is sharing to grow Docstoc into a successful business.

More information about this course can be found here.

2. New Venture Finance: Startup Funding for Entrepreneurs

Some entrepreneurs prefer not to seek outside funding, opting to bootstrap – but the majority of startups would welcome funding with open arms if they knew how to secure it.

This is what this online course from the University of Maryland covers, as professor Michael R. Pratt explains what you need to do in the early stages of your business to prepare for funding, where to source funding, how to pitch investors and venture capitalists, as well as how to close funding.

There is a lot more to the process than putting together a business plan and a pitch deck and firing it off to any investors or VC that you can find. Part of being successful is being prepared – and this course helps entrepreneurs be prepared before going after funding.

More information about this course can be found here.

3. Introduction to Web Development: HTML

Every business has an online presence these days, meaning every business has a website. Some tech startup founders are very computer savvy and can write code in their sleep.

Other business owners, such as a restaurateurs or retailers, might not have the same knowledge and experience. So what do entrepreneurs do that don’t have a coding or programming expert on their team? They pay ridiculously high rates to companies to make simple website changes.

A lot of the small changes and tasks can be completed in-house with just a little HTML knowledge – exactly what this course delivers. You aren’t going to become a world-class developer after taking this, but you will have a thorough understanding of how to create HTML web pages and make changes and edits to existing pages.

More information about this course can be found here.

4. Scaling Operations: Linking Strategy and Execution

This course from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University is a five-week lesson that shows you how to correctly build an operation that is both stable and scalable. There isn’t a single entrepreneur that starts a business hoping to stay small.smart-ideas-for-entrepreneurs

The two professors, Gad Allon and Jan Van Mieghem, cover everything from the correct framework, marketing, outsourcing and strategy required to scale efficiently and successfully.

More information about this course can be found here.

5. How to Make Money Online: The Passive Income Business Plan

My company brokers the sale of online businesses, so I understand firsthand how lucrative online-based businesses can be. This course lays out a simple, yet effective, way to make money online.

The goal of the 12-hour video course is to explain how to execute a plan to make $5,000 in monthly passive income by creating 10 websites that each produce $500 in monthly revenue.

While this is a basic introduction to online business, it does provide helpful information for entrepreneurs that have contemplated starting an online business but weren’t sure how to start. It’s a good first step for those interested in making money online – as are these online business models.

More information about this course can be found here.

Related: An MBA for Free?

6. Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills

Being able to negotiate is a skill that every entrepreneur should master. Business contracts, vendor contracts, lease agreements and employee contracts all require negotiation.

George Siedel and the University of Michigan have put together a video course that consists of more than eight hours of practical education that breaks down the negotiation process into four parts.international-research

This is also a great course to have your sales team complete – there isn’t a single sales professional that cannot benefit from additional negotiation education. The fundamentals taught in this course can be applied to virtually any sales scenario.

More information about this course can be found here.

7. Foundations of Business Strategy

Think you would gain a competitive advantage if you understood how to position your company to maximize your value creation? Professor Michael Lenox, from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, has created a seven-hour video course designed to help entrepreneurs understand competitive markets, analyse structure and capabilities, as well as how to determine competitive positioning.

More information about this course can be found here.

8. Fundamentals of Project Planning and Management

Look back at the last project you completed – did it go as smoothly as you would have liked? You could have the best plan but if it isn’t executed properly you could potentially miss a deadline or fail entirely.

Not only does this course put together by the University of Virginia explain how to properly plan a project, but it also explains what to do when things don’t go as planned.

Understanding how to react when things go wrong is equally as important as understanding how to execute a project that is going to plan. Have your project manager or department heads take this course with you and really increase your company’s effectiveness.

More information about this course can be found here.

9. Entrepreneurship – From Idea to Launch

If you are just starting a business or are thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, this course is for you. With nearly 40,000 individuals already completing this course, Dr. Jeff Cornwall explains practical steps to take an idea and turn it into a successful business.video-tutorials-online

Currently a professor of entrepreneurship at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., Cornwall walks the talk. He took a nine-year break from the education world to co-found Atlantic Behavioral Health Systems.

This course is a great introduction to the world of entrepreneurship that is taught by someone who has actually launched a company.

More information about this course can be found here.

10. Marketing in a Digital World

Every single business needs to have a digital footprint these days – there are no exceptions. While you can always just hire a digital marketing firm to handle everything it is a good idea to have a full understanding of what a digital marketing campaign consists of.

Along with discussing digital promotion, this course also dives into the creation of digital products. Many businesses – the publishing industry for example – are converting to digital products.

This is a four-week course by Aric Rindfleisch of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that is a must for new entrepreneurs as well as seasoned business owners that haven’t quite grasped digital promotion.

More information about this course can be found here.

Bonus: Guide to Buying an Online Business

Buying a business can be a shortcut to success online. Why start something from scratch when someone else has done all of the hard work for you?

This short guide by my company walks through the whole process of buying an online business from initial identification all the way through to successfully closing a sale. You can get free access to it here.online-book-shopping

Have you taken any free online courses that you found to be highly valuable and might be of interest to other entrepreneurs? Share your favourites in the comments section below.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Thomas Smale co-founded FE International in 2010, growing the business with zero funds from scratch to a seven-figure-a-year business. Specializing in advising and brokering the sale of established websites and online businesses, FE International has completed over 210 transactions. Smale has been interviewed on podcasts, blogs and also spoken at a number of industry events on online businesses, exit strategy and selling businesses.

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Self Development

How You Can Make Failing Part Of Your Growth Strategy

Here’s how you can make failing forward part of your growth strategy.

Entrepreneur

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The concept of ‘fail forward’ basically means that it’s okay to fail as long as you learn from your mistakes. Once you shift your mindset regarding failure, it becomes an asset to your growth. What’s not to like about learning?

Here’s how you can make failing forward part of your growth strategy.

1. Take risks

If it’s okay to fail as long as you learn from it, then it’s okay to embrace the idea of taking more risks. Try new things and see if they’ll work. If they don’t, then at least you’ve tried and learnt.

Related: Flourishing Through Failure And Finding Fortune

2. Learn constantly

Failing and learning shouldn’t be one-offs or isolated incidents. They should weave together in a constant stream of learning that builds and rewards as we move forward. That way, we can improve and eventually succeed more often than we fail.

3. Search and reapply

Learn from each other’s mistakes. Marketing is a spectator sport — you can learn from watching each other’s brand activities — both the wins and losses.

4. Accept failure

This one is the hardest step. It’s not easy to fail. It’s not something we’re taught to do. It distracts us from our mission and it takes time away from being successful. Or does it? If you start failing forward daily, not only for yourself, but for your teams as well, you will create an environment where failing forward is accepted and embraced as part of a learning culture that seeks continuous improvement. That improvement includes actively learning from your individual and collective mistakes.

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Self Development

Listening To These 8 Audiobooks On Success Is A Better Use Of Your Long Commute

Commuting is mostly just unpaid work, unless you make an effort to learn something along the way.

John Boitnott

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Commutes are getting longer, and in some cities they’re up to two hours each way. I have a friend in Los Angeles who does this. He passes the time with audiobooks. Now that’s still a lot of time to be stuck in transit, but he doesn’t view it that way. He says it allows him plenty of time to feed his personal and professional goals.

I’ve spent years listening to literature in the car while commuting, but somewhere along the line I switched over to books on business and personal improvement. I mostly gravitated toward amazing people who built their success from scratch and who experienced tremendous hardship. It stands to reason that if you’re dealing with hardships like a long commute, it’s important to hear motivational words that can help you transcend the difficulties.

Here are eight audiobooks that will help grow your success, both personal and professional, on your next commute:

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Self Development

3 Questions To Guide You To Success In 2018

Most of the goals we set have some external component to it. Some component that we cannot control. Yet, we act like we can.

Erik Kruger

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3 Questions To Guide You To Success In 2018

Goal setting as a concept makes perfect sense. At the most basic level you decide on the destination and then plot the way to get there. But as with many things, we like to overcomplicate that which should be simple.

Before you know it, you end up with 2 big goals in 15 different areas of your life and 100 micro goals that will help you reach your 30 big goals.

Complicating something simple. Some of the biggest obstacles to people in reaching their goals are:

  • The overestimate the effort it will take to achieve those goals
  • They want to go from 0-100km/h in the blink of an eye
  • Life is dynamic and static goals often do not make sense
  • They get so entrenched in the day to day running of things that goals get pushed aside.

What if instead of goals, we just focused on giving our best every day?

Of course, you still want to have an indication of where you are going.

But, if you are giving your 100% every day then you can forego the micro goals for a better way of calibrating your compass… using questions.

Related: Goal Setting Guide

I suggest you ask yourself these three questions regularly:

1. What does better look like?

The question at the heart of development and incremental improvement. This question allows you some creative space in which you can imagine a better future.

  • What does better health look like?
  • What does a better business look like?
  • What does better customer service look like?
  • What does better leadership look like?

By reflecting on this question, you materialise the gap between where you are and where you could be. Now, the only thing that is left is to align your daily actions with the better future you imagined.

2. What can I control?

Borrowed from Stoicism this question highlights the power of decision in your life. Epictetus said we should always be asking ourselves: “Is this something that is, or is not, in my control?”

Once you ask this of yourself regularly you will feel more in control of your life and more in control of your business.

Why?

Because your focus is solely on the things that you can influence. It restores the belief that you can actually impact the world around you in a meaningful way.

3. Was I impeccable with my actions today?

One inherent flaw with goal setting is that the goal setter often feels judged. As if we need more of that. In addition to the constant negative self-talk we have to endure we now have an additional source of judgement – whether we reached our goals or not.

As we discovered in question #2 We cannot control everything. Most of the goals we set have some external component to it. Some component that we cannot control. Yet, we act like we can.

So, instead of judging yourself, commit to giving your best every single day.

Related: The Tim Ferriss Approach to Setting Goals: Rig the Game so You Win


Accountability

What I love most about these questions is that they provide a built-in layer of accountability. Use them every day.

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