As an entrepreneur, professional development can be hard to come by. It can often feel like you’re going it alone simply because you don’t have the kind of automatic network in place that a larger company has. However, the Internet is full of resources for entrepreneurs, from improving your coding skills to building a better business plan. Here are some tools to check out.
Carnegie Mellon University’s “Entrepreneurship and Business Planning”: This course, hosted on the University’s “TalkShoe” community platform, includes 16 lectures, complete with PowerPoints, handouts, and a case study. The course originally came from a class in the Master in Informational Systems Management program. The course includes concepts like financing, marketing, team building, and sales.
· Stanford University’s “Two Generations of Entrepreneurship” and “Two Reasons Companies Can Fail”: Both of these classes come from Stanford’s “Entrepreneurship Corner,” which provides about 2,000 free videos and podcasts. The first of the two above is a 45-minute lecture by Sandra and Andy Kurtzig and focuses on company mission and venture funding. The second is an hour-long lecture by the CEO of Idealab and focuses on what can undermine a company’s success.
· University of California Irvine’s “Conducting a Thorough Market Assessment” and “The Elevator Pitch”: Both of these lectures are available as YouTube videos. Both give thoughts on customer development techniques.
· Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s “Entrepreneurial Marketing”: This is a full course available through MIT’s OpenCourseWare platform, including print, audio, and video materials. The course focuses on communication, distribution, pricing, and customer relations.
· The Open University’s “Entrepreneurial Behavior”: The Open University offers over 600 free, web-based courses. This course focuses on entrepreneurs themselves and on qualities and leadership styles that have often been associated with successful entrepreneurs. It also explores the role that entrepreneurs play in the larger economy.
· The International Revenue Service’s “Starting a Business”: The IRS offers video and audio resources mainly focused on answering tax questions. “Starting a Business” includes videos of various lengths with transcripts. The videos focus on income reporting, recordkeeping, and retirement planning for the self-employed.
· The U.S. Small Business Administration’s “Encore Entrepreneurs: An Introduction to Starting Your Own Business” and “Young Entrepreneurs: An Essential Guide to Starting Your Own Business”: These video courses, 30 minutes and 40 minute respectively, discuss non-profit resources, business models, financing, and ownership options.
· HubSpot Academy: This site offers a free certification program on website optimization, landing pages, and lead nurturing.
· Coursera: With 114 educational partners, Coursera provides an outstanding range of free online courses. There are both basic business and entrepreneurship courses and courses that fit more within certain small business niches.
· Khan Academy: This resource is mainly geared toward high school students, but it’s a great platform for refreshers on things everyone should know, and it makes even complex topics understandable.
· LearnVest: If you’re looking specifically for courses on budgeting and otherwise managing your money, LearnVest is a great option. It’s not specially geared toward entrepreneurs, but it offers some free and many affordable classes on money management, which every entrepreneur needs to understand.
· Moz: This is an excellent source for learning Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It includes the free Moz Academy as well as other resources like webinars and beginners’ guides to various topics.
Nathan Jansch is owner and president of The Boardroom Executive Suites in Denver, Colo., which provides office space, virtual office services, conference room rentals, telephone answering, and other services and amenities to small and medium sized businesses. To compare executive suites to traditional office space or subleases, visit the Boardroom Executive Suites website. Read the Denver Office News blog for helpful business news and advice, financial and real estate news, and working green tips.