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Free Online Courses for Small Business Owners

Small business owners can bolster their skills with free online courses. Learn what the best free online courses for business owners are here.

Small business owners are constantly learning new things on the fly. Whether you’re just starting your business or you’ve owned many businesses throughout your career, it always seems like there’s something new to learn and multiple ways to learn it. Learning can help you grow your business and save resources, allowing you to take on more work instead of hiring someone else to do it.

Taking small business courses is an effective and convenient way to learn the skills you need to make your business more successful, but finding the right course can seem difficult if you don’t know where to start. There are hundreds of online small business courses online, and finding the right one for you will take a little bit of research. Some of the best courses for small business owners are even free and can teach you everything you need to know about a variety of business topics, including small business management, marketing, accounting, and more.

What courses are available for free online?

Hundreds of free small business training programs and courses are available to you. The types of courses you take will depend on your needs and current skill sets. You can find free small business courses ranging from beginner to advanced levels of different business categories, including business finances and accounting, marketing and digital marketing, supply chain logistics, human resources, employee engagement and development, and many more.

You can also find online courses to help you utilize business software like CRM systems, social media management programs, and payroll software. For example, if you want to learn how to use Mailchimp, you can enroll in Mailchimp Academy for access to interactive courses to help you earn certifications and learn more about using the software.

Before you jump into a course, consider the types of skills you need. Some small business owners will want to learn everything they can about marketing their business at a low cost, while others will need to learn how to manage employees and use payroll systems.

Benefits of taking an online small business course

Information for small business owners is more accessible than ever, thanks to the many courses available online. Now, you no longer need to enroll in classes at your local community college or university to gain the valuable skills you need to grow your business. Instead, by taking an online small business course, aspiring entrepreneurs can:

  • Learn new skills: You can learn everything from how to use analytics to learn more about your customers to how to manage payroll for new employees. All you have to do is find courses online that can help you learn new skills based on your unique needs.
  • Save money: Free online courses for small business owners can help you save money while learning instead of paying for expensive training through universities. Instead of spending money on learning, you can put your money towards something that can help the business grow.
  • Learn on their own schedule: Online small business management classes allow you to go at your own pace to effectively learn the material. Of course, depending on what you need to learn and how fast, you may choose to take an accelerated course online, which may have deadlines.
  • Better understand their industry: Taking online small business courses that focus on your industry can help you learn more about it. Since not all businesses are the same, you can learn effective marketing techniques designed for B2B, B2C, e-commerce, and service-based businesses.

Where to find small business courses online

There are a few different ways you can find free online courses for small business owners. For example, you can find small business courses online by doing a quick search on Google for free or paid business classes. Depending on the types of skills you need, you can also be more specific. For example, if you want to take a small business course that teaches you about digital marketing for B2B businesses, you can search for “free B2B digital marketing courses online,”

You can also browse some of the most popular online business education websites for different course offerings, including:

  • SBA Learning Platform: The US Small Business Administration Learning Platform offers many different business development programs ranging from business planning to marketing to help you learn how to get your business off the ground.
  • Coursera Business Programs: Coursera is an open online learning platform that offers online courses, certifications, and degrees in various subjects, including business. Here, you can find courses on everything from marketing analytics to social media management and brand alignment.
  • SkillShare: SkillShare is another online learning community where you can find courses in the form of online videos. These courses are not accredited, but they can help you learn valuable skills like e-commerce essentials, business processes, and growing your social following into a business.
  • Future Learn: Future Learn has business courses from accredited universities to help you learn skills in analytics, business strategy, entrepreneurship, and even marketing and CRM.
  • Google Digital Garage: Google Digital Garage is geared towards entrepreneurs and small business owners who want to learn more about digital marketing and online businesses. Here, you can find free courses on how to promote your online business and help customers find you online.

These are just a few online business course providers for small business owners. You can also find courses directly through colleges and universities. For example, Harvard Business School offers free online lessons for business owners ranging from business essentials to leadership and business management.

Best free online courses for small business owners

The type of online courses you should take will depend on the skills you think you’re lacking. For example, many business owners may know a lot about innovation and marketing but don’t know anything about leadership or managing employees. To help yourself figure out what online courses you should take, write a list of all your skills and try to find areas that could use improvement. If there’s something you’ve never done before, write it down and find a course that can help you develop the necessary skills to help your business become more successful. A few of the best free online courses for small business owners include:

Small business management classes

Business management classes can help business owners become more effective managers and bosses by learning how to run their teams. These courses can help you learn more about business administration, operations, and leadership and management to help you communicate effectively with employees and set expectations while managing important projects.

Business management classes teach entrepreneurs about managing every aspect of the business, including staff and resources, while providing them with project management skills they need to delegate tasks and properly plan to prevent bottlenecks while increasing productivity and efficiency. In addition, online small business management courses are designed to help entrepreneurs familiarize themselves with skill sets they might not yet have, allowing them to become more effective leaders. A few of the skills you can expect to learn include:

  • The importance of business management
  • Business tools and terminology
  • Collaboration, negotiation, and how to give feedback
  • Developing managerial skills

Accounting basics

Keeping track of your income and expenses is a necessity when you’re a small business owner. When trying to save every penny, you need to know where your money is going and how much you’re earning every day, week, month, and year. Every small business owner must have a handle on accounting, even if they’re not the only person managing their finances. With basic accounting skills, small business owners can make better decisions when it comes to their spending, allowing them to learn how to save money they can put right back into the business to help it grow.

A small business accounting class can help you learn important terminology, read reports, and help you understand basic software and tools you can use to help you manage your money more wisely. Accounting courses can teach you everything you need to know about accounting as a small business owner, including:

  • Payroll
  • Financial statements
  • Income and expense reporting
  • Taxes

Digital marketing certification

Digital marketing helps connect businesses with their target audience to find more customers online. However, it also offers the ability to continuously find new ways to bring marketing and advertising costs down by using data collected from each marketing campaign to make better decisions while enabling you to understand your website performance. There are many different types of digital marketing, including social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), search and display advertising, and email marketing. According to a 2021 survey, 36% of small business owners reported that email marketing was the most effective driver of sales compared to other marketing channels.

As you can see, marketing a small business can help you drive sales without spending your entire budget. However, if you want to market your business effectively, you might choose to take an online course that can help you learn the different ways to market your business online.

Google offers free courses on the fundamentals of digital marketing to help you understand the most effective methods for marketing your business online. Of course, digital marketing requires the use of many different tools, including software that can help you design and develop different campaigns. For example, Mailchimp offers an all-in-one marketing platform to help you integrate all of your marketing efforts and earn more customers. Taking email marketing courses and other digital marketing certification classes can help you take your marketing to the next level. Make sure to browse other Mailchimp marketing courses to find other ways to expand your knowledge as a business owner.

Supply chain management

Supply chain management is the process of how businesses turn raw goods and materials into finished products and how those goods are transported and distributed to customers. Supply chains are the methods by which organizations and suppliers work together to create finished goods and distribute them through their channels. The systems implemented require different resources and information to connect producers, transporters, warehouses, distribution centers, retailers, and other various partners. Any product that makes it into a consumer’s hand has gone through the supply chain.

Supply chain management is complex, especially if you work with multiple suppliers and manufacturers and turn their raw materials into finished goods in your own warehouses. Effectively managing the supply chain helps your business become more efficient while reducing costs and preventing delays in the process. Streamlining these efforts results in faster production, which means customers can get their products faster, improving their trust and loyalty to the business.

Supply chain management courses teach small business owners about the process and best practices to optimize their chains and flow of goods. With introductory classes, entrepreneurs will learn about how the supply chain management system works, while advanced courses discuss how to apply best practices to the supply chain and minimize risk.

Final notes

Learning new skills can help your business grow by filling in skills gaps within your teams and allowing you to focus on different ways you can improve the business by cutting costs and developing growth strategies. Whether you’re starting your first business or you’ve been an entrepreneur for years, there’s always something new to learn to help you reach your goals.

Taking small business courses and continuing your education throughout your career can help you learn new skills and techniques while introducing you to new ways of thinking that can help your business grow and thrive in a competitive market.

Frequently asked questions

How long do online small business courses take?

Online small business courses range in length from something you can learn in an afternoon to a course that takes over 100 hours. Many online courses allow you to go at your own pace, but you should still be aware that you’ll need to make time to pass these courses and learn all that you can from them.

The more complex a course, the longer it will take, whether you complete it at your own pace or have deadlines set by an instructor. Most online business courses will tell you how long getting through the course takes and what you can expect to learn in each lesson. These details should help you determine whether or not a course is right for you based on how much time you have available. Check your schedule before enrolling in an online business course to ensure you can dedicate enough time to learning the skills you need to succeed.

How much do online small business courses cost?

You can easily find free online small business courses by doing your research online or looking into one of the course providers we discussed in this article. Of course, you can also choose to pay for courses if you’re looking for more options. The total cost of your small business courses will depend on your provider, the course, and whether or not there’s an instructor. Small business courses with instructors are typically more expensive because that instructor has to be paid.

If you’re unsure whether taking any type of small business course is right for you, consider taking a free course before moving on to something more advanced. You can find advanced courses for free, but depending on the skills you want to learn, you may have to pay for more robust training.

At the very least, free courses can help you learn the basic skills you need. Your new skills can be put to the test within your organization to help your business thrive. From there, you can decide if you want to take more courses to learn new skills that can help your business.

Can I earn certificates from small business training programs?

Yes, you can earn certificates from training programs and online courses. Any certificates you own can be put on your resume to help you get a job in the future or demonstrate a level of expertise for a particular skill. Earning certificates from online training can help you negotiate higher pay or find a competitive job. Of course, if you own a small business, you don’t have to worry about putting any certifications on your resume because your main focus will be helping your business grow, not finding other employment.

How do I determine which online courses to take?

The best courses for small business owners to take depend on your current skill set, industry, and your goals. Depending on your background, you may already know all about digital marketing. However, you may not know how to be an effective leader or manager. Consider all the types of skills a business owner should have, including management and leadership skills that can help you effectively communicate with teams.

You can also learn other skills like accounting and human resource management, especially if you’re the type of business owner who wears multiple hats and is responsible for different departments within an organization. If you’re starting with only a few employees, learning everything you can about business can help you get your business off the ground and grow. Once you’ve grown enough, you can hire other professionals to take over some of those responsibilities.

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