Take your business to the next level by learning something new with these great small business courses. Whether your employees need to improve their programming skills or you need to learn how to manage social media marketing, there are plenty of free and low-cost resources to help you boost your skills without breaking the bank. Here are 7 of the best.
- SCORE: Made up of volunteers who are or were small business owners or corporate executives, SCORE offers free advice and guidance to help you learn all aspects of running a business. Whether you’re trying to put together a loan application, develop a marketing plan or learn how to get the most out of QuickBooks, SCORE can help. You’ll be matched with a mentor who’s familiar with your industry and/or issue. In addition to one-on-one and online counseling (available 24/7), SCORE also offers workshops, networking events, webinars and online tools and templates you can use.
- Women’s Business Centers (WBCs): Are you a woman business owner? The SBA’s Women’s Business Centers can help you take your business to the next level. At over 100 assistance centers, you can get expert assistance and counseling to grow your business, plus workshops and networking events where you can meet and network with other women entrepreneurs.
- Kauffman FastTrac: The Kauffman Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting entrepreneurship, offers a variety of free small business courses and programs for entrepreneurs at various stages of business development, including FastTrac New Venture for aspiring or startup entrepreneurs, FastTrac TechVenture for technology or life science entrepreneurs, and FastTrac GrowthVenture, which helps existing businesses grow. There are also online-only programs. FastTrac programs are delivered by programs are delivered affiliate organizations including chambers of commerce, business development centers, local and regional economic development councils, colleges and universities.
- Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs): With more than 1,000 locations nationwide, typically hosted at college or university campuses or economic development centers, SBDCs provide free counseling and advice from small business experts and entrepreneurs at all stages of startup and growth. Professionals such as consultants, lawyers and accountants can help you develop a business plan, get financing and more. The centers also offer workshops, networking events and courses on a variety of business-related topics.
- CareerOneStop Centers: Do your employees need training? Operated by the Department of Labor, the more than 3,000 CareerOneStop Centers nationwide provide resources for both job seekers and businesses under one roof. They can help you figure out what type of training is needed; find training resources in your area including customized training, community colleges and other training providers; and find low-cost options for training employees.
- Udemy: Some 4 million students worldwide use this website to take courses in everything from programming to photography. Courses are taught by expert instructors and are available on demand so students can work at their own pace on any device. You can easily use Udemy for employee training. Prices range from free to several hundred dollars; search the site for highly rated free business and entrepreneurship programs and give them a spin.
(Disclosure: SCORE and the L.A. SBDC Network are clients of my company.)
Bonus! 8. Funding Gates’ Free Bootcamps. Our small business finance experts have prepared easy-to-understand lessons on a variety of topics so you can get more done, fast. Funding Gates Bootcamps are short and intensive small business courses, emailed directly to you, so you can read up on the next lesson whenever you have time. Currently covered topics include Extending Payment Terms, Managing Late Paying Customers, Mastering Working Capital Management, and How To Build Stellar Business Credit.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.