It’s important for business owners to stay on top of skills that can boost productivity and the bottom line. However, finding time and money to spend in a class or working with a tutor can be difficult if not impossible. Here we’ve assembled some ways to boost your productivity and learn valuable skills from home at little to no cost.
Excel School is an online coursework that teaches you the ins and outs of excel from beginner to advanced. If you own a business you’re probably already familiar with working in Excel but the odds are you only know what you’ve needed to know or had someone show you. Building your skills in Excel can mean gaining the ability to do more sophisticated financial modeling and create a full business and accounting plan without relying on pricey experts.
Ruby is a coding language that powers the newest websites, mobile sites and smartphone applications. Unlike some of the more complex coding languages, learning Ruby isn’t that difficult even for total newbies. A ton of resources exist online for you to learn Ruby on your own and call in human support when you get stuck. What if you could take your business website to the next level, or create a smartphone app for your business without having to hire and pay a web development firm? Knowing Ruby can also help you unlock the ability to do one-off marketing initiatives in-house and on the fly.
Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs have taken a beating in the press lately for not being the educational silver bullet they were marketed to be. However, the CEO’s of both online learning platforms made announcements at the beginning of this year stating they had plans in place to make online courses more rich and interactive. In addition to making those changes, both platforms already offer a wide variety of business courses – many of which come from the best business schools in the world. Even if you don’t have the money for an MBA, you can still reap the benefits of the coursework by using one of the MOOC platforms to learn. Most classes are offered for free, with the option to pay for a certification letter from the professor at the end.
Hackathons & Meet-Ups
If you’re more social, you may find that hackathons and meetups are a great way to acquire both contacts and new skills. Hackathons are often one-off events where developers meet up with ideas people and attempt to build an entire application, soup to nuts over a weekend. Businesses, non-profits and city organizations across the country have been sponsoring hackathons lately in an effort to further their missions. Developers join up for bragging rights or partnership building. Even if you’re new to coding you can get a lot out of a hackathon just from observing. Keep an eye out for local opportunities or start one of your own to help further business goals.
Meetups have been around forever, but they are seeing less press. This is actually a good thing. It’s helped a lot of the fluffier groups to fold, and the ones with solid attendance maintain and get better. Now is a great time to revisit the meetups list happening in your area and find opportunities to pursue personal interests, business interests or networking. Most meetups are free, or have a low-cost cover. Some include monthly or semi-monthly gatherings that work as little ad-hoc classes or skillshares that fit within the group’s mission. You can even host your own to raise the profile of your business.