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46 Fantastic Open Courses for Small Business Owners


Truly motivated people don't need a teacher breathing down their necks or the threat of a poor grade hanging over their heads to get them to learn. Today there is almost no limit to what you can teach yourself with help from open course materials available on the web. If you are a small business owner, or you are thinking of becoming one, forget about going into debt to get an MBA. Instead, prove your business savvy by taking advantage of free courses like these.

Getting Started

  1. Starting My Own Business: If you are an aspiring business owner, this free course will walk you through choosing the right industry, skills you'll need to survive, and what to watch out for.
  2. Top 10 Things You Must Have to Start a Business: Stanford's Frank Levinson walks you through the essential components of starting your own business in this series of video lectures.
  3. Crafting a Business Plan: Every business owner has to know where he wants the company to go. This course gives you nearly 200 slides worth of tools for creating your business's road map.
  4. Product Design and Development: A course like this one from MIT could be exactly what you need to inspire you to create and package the next big thing.
  5. Finding and Attracting Investors: Need help making your brilliant idea a reality? This course will guide you in securing capital, with an emphasis on applicable state and federal laws.
  6. The Software Business: If a software company is your planned small business, check out this seminar-style course to find out what to expect.

Entrepreneurship

  1. Handspring: The Accidental Entrepreneur: In these 22 video lectures, the founder of PDA company Handspring, Jeff Hawkins, discusses how his business began and gives his views on successful entrepreneurship.
  2. The Entrepreneurial Strategies: Intended for the beginner entrepreneur, this course will arm you with techniques for starting your business and gives you examples of successful entrepreneurs in action.
  3. Garage Technology Ventures: Passion vs. Money in Entrepreneurship: Author and co-founder of online aggregator Alltop.com lectures on entrepreneurs, MBAs, and the mighty dollar.
  4. LinkedIn: Risk and Entrepreneurship: Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn, equates entrepreneurship with high-risk investment in this lecture series hosted by Stanford.
  5. Developmental Entrepreneurship: The lecture notes from this free class take you through case studies of both successful and failed business models from all over the world.
  6. Entrepreneurial Behavior: The goal of this course is to give you the keys to unlock your small business' potential and expand by exploiting an opportunity in the market.

Management

  1. Management Communication: This undergrad class at MIT features a full set of lecture notes and study guides to teach you how to communicate effectively with your employees.
  2. Negotiation and Conflict Management: The objective of this class is to learn how to navigate sticky management situations like sexism, whistle-blowing, and harassment.
  3. Human Resources Management: Known as "HRM 303" at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, these 26 videos are viewable for everyone interested in HR education.
  4. Introduction to Project Management: From UC-Irvine comes this module to equip you to be the person who makes sure projects get done right, on time, and under budget.
  5. Leadeship Lab: The lecture notes, videos, and project examples are all made available online from this MIT class about being an innovative and effective leader.
  6. Financial Management: This is a graduate-level MIT course that will make you an expert manager when it comes to calculating risk versus reward.
  7. Game Theory for Managers: Strengthen your management skills by studying game theory to improve your strategy skills for use against your competitors.

Marketing

  1. Creating Buzz: Small Business Marketing: This free course from the Small Business Development Center is designed to show you how to capitalize on your time, energy, and imagination to get people talking about your business.
  2. Products, Services and Branding: This three-hour course teaches you about developing new products and delves into the ins and outs of managing product services.
  3. Writing a Marketing Plan – the Quick Way: Maybe you need a marketing plan pronto for a fast-approaching investor meeting. This course will show you how to make it in two weeks.
  4. Social Marketing: It sounds like a course in social media, but this course deals with social issues like sustainability and how you can address them with your business.
  5. Marketing for Small Business: Guerrilla marketing, niches, and marketing mixes are a few of the points covered in this course offered by Maine's Small Business Development Center.
  6. Marketing in a Recession: The president may claim the recession is behind us, but the real world begs to differ. Find out how to market appropriately in tough times through this course.
  7. Positioning Master Class: Advanced entrepreneurs will appreciate this course in positioning, helping you avoid positioning mistakes and get the competition right where you want them.
  8. Marketing Communications as a Strategic Function: It sounds high-handed, but this course is helpful for learning how to establish strong relationships with customers through effective communication.
  9. The Market-led Organization: Building on your basic marketing acumen, this course will grow your understanding of what direction the market is headed so that you can get out ahead of it.

Money Matters

  1. Introduction to Accounting: The Small Business Administration brings you this course that is a great primer for anyone new to accounting but interested in opening their own business.
  2. Sloan School of Management Investments course: Discover how to make informed investments for your company by using mathematical derivation and data analysis.
  3. Small Business Tax Workshop: Coming to you courtesy of your friendly neighborhood IRS, these nine interactive lessons will teach you what you need to know about the taxes your small business will face.
  4. Economic Analysis for Business Decisions: This course from the Sloan School of Management supplements lecture notes with assignments and exams with solutions so that you can test how much you've learned about the microeconomics of decision-making.
  5. Running a Profitable Company: From the nice folks at Visa comes this short course with tips on getting your business in the black and making sure it stays there.
  6. Business Analysis Using Financial Statements: Small business owners with working knowledge of economics and finance can use this course to take their financial planning to the next level via financial reports.
  7. Valuation: NYU's Aswath Damodaran is featured in these 23 lectures on business valuation, ranging from accounting fraud to PEG ratios.
  8. Transactions and Processing of e-Commerce: This University of Washington open class is a great resource for learning how to get into the world of online business, featuring lecture notes and videos.

Technology

  1. Technology Strategy: This course is a must for anyone whose business involves technology in some way, which is going to be most people.
  2. Editing Great Small Business Videos: HP has an online learning center offering courses like this one to teach you how to edit and transfer videos on your computer.
  3. e-Business Now workshops: Make your own technology course by going through these five online workshops, including "Boosting Your Business Using Technology" and "Applying Technology to Jumpstart Your Sales."
  4. Innovation, Markets, and Industrial Change: Over 15 hours you will discover how and why technology is making or breaking companies and how you must adapt or die.

General Business

  1. Exporting: First Steps for Success: This is part one of two learning modules designed to help you evaluate whether exporting products or services is right for your small business.
  2. Building My Own Business: For established small business owners, this course will introduce you to expansion opportunities and crucial internal controls necessary to grow your bottom line.
  3. Introduction to Franchising: Taking the franchise route can be a wise decision for first-time small business owners. This course will help you decide if it's right for you, and if so, how to go about it.
  4. Understanding Intellectual Property: If your small business is founded on some revolutionary new innovation, you'll need to know how to protect it.
  5. Too Unimportant to Fail?: This lecture asks and answers what kills new businesses and what are the sources of innovation.
  6. Creating an Ethical Organization: Over six hours, you'll learn about how to conduct conscious capitalism and prove to your customers your company cares.

February 20th, 2012 written by Staff Writers

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