A lot of people are walking into the sometimes-murky waters of entrepreneurship without any attempt to equip themselves with the professional knowledge required. You need some form of training to thrive in any chosen path, especially entrepreneurship. The fact that you are a good chef does not mean you will have a successful food business. If you lack basic business knowledge, you will fail out.
Some people gain some informal training by undergoing apprenticeship or simply attaching themselves to a business person from whom they can now pick invaluable business skills. Others go in without the training, and have to pay a very high cost for their ignorance. This is not a very wise thing to do, even if you cannot afford to get trained and certified. There are several free resources and business trainings you can take advantage of online.
We cannot exhaust the entire number in one article, but let us consider just 6 of these free courses.
Business Management (on Oxford Home Study Center)
This is a short course that you can find on the Oxford home study centre. It is very beginner-friendly and if you are trying to move from career into business, you will find it very helpful. You will be learning all about business management from the scratch. This course teaches you about the dynamics of the business environment. It also teaches you human resource management and how to handle performance management. It also introduces you to marketing fundamentals and other business-related matters.
Brand Management: Aligning Business, Brand and Behaviour (Coursera)
This is a free course on Coursera that you can access by just creating an account. This course is meant to transform your mind from thinking that brand is in the visual identity (logo, colour, images etc), to understanding that brand is the customer experience that your customers get. Think of it this way, your beautiful logo and appealing colour palette will not save your brand when customers start throwing negative reviews all around, based on their unsavoury user experience.
The course has exercises you can work out with your own brand, and videos from leading branding professionals. From this course, you will learn how to build a beautiful customer experience based on a healthy brand culture, sprinkled with “moments-that-matter”, and great reviews and feedbacks. Importantly, you will learn how to measure your brand health internally and externally. You do not need to get a Masters degree in branding for you to get it right with your business branding. Take this course, and get back to us on what you learned.
Business Strategy: Competitive Advantage (EDX)
This course from Wharton is available for free on EDX, a platform that offers online business administration courses. This course will teach you how to develop and execute strategies to gain competitive advantage and improve your position in the marketplace. You cannot go into the market doing same thing everyone else is doing and expect to stand out. And it isa not about coming up with a single solution at a great timing. If you want to have a competitive advantage that is sustainable over time, you will need a well-designed and well-executed strategy. That is what the course will equip you to do.
You will learn how to evaluate your own strategy, locate sources of potential competitive advantage from a perspective that encompasses the internal, external, and dynamic fit of your strategy; assess the strategic impact of the moves of your competitors and how to maintain competitive advantage, and lots more.
How to Build a Profitable Small Business Brand (Alison)
This is one of the free business courses available on Alison. The focus of this course is teaching you how to position your small brand to attract high-paying premium customers. You will learn how to differentiate your brand in the marketplace, and work with other stakeholders and influencers to build a powerful brand. With this course in your pocket, you will become a powerful branding manager and marketer, armed with the tactics, strategies and little secrets that has helped others generate hundreds of millions in sales.
This course also has exercises which you can apply right away and start positioning your brand to attract premium customers. You will also see how you can remove your business from the league of small businesses competing on price and margins. Brand style, themes, personality, visual photography and identity are also taught in this course. You will learn also how to scale your distribution and sell to customers in other locations. As well as how you can use up-selling and cross-selling to scale your product line. This course has been tagged the “ultimate guide to profitable and scalable business branding”. Take the course and find out how true it is.
BlueSky Ventures: The Entrepreneurship Mindset (Wharton)
This course from Wharton Interactive focuses on Business strategy. It is an interactive course where you will have a chance to analyze business models, interview executive founders, and build financial projections for a variety of realistic businesses. It presents a whole new way of learning built on the Alternate Reality Course (ARC) platform, showing you how to tell if a new business venture is going to succeed, by evaluating it from the investor’s angle. It is an introductory course to an advanced 3-week Entrepreneurship Strategy Course, and is a good way to start your entrepreneurship journey.
Entrepreneurship 1: Developing the Opportunity (MOOC)
This course is available for free online and was prepared on the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) – University of Pennsylvania/Wharton. If you still have a business idea and are trying to decide if it will be a viable business opportunity, you should start with this course. This course profiles and explains who the entrepreneur is, talks about technology entrepreneurship and impact entrepreneurship and how to differentiate where your business idea comes under.
The course teaches proven techniques for identifying viable business opportunity, assessing the opportunity, hypothesis testing and creating a prototype. By the end of this course, you’ll know how to test, validate and prototype your idea, and also whether or not you fit the profile of an entrepreneur! The course has a sequel on Launching the Start-Up, and you can take it right after completing the course.
Entrepreneurship 4: Financing and Profitability (MOOC)
This course is also from the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) – University of Pennsylvania/Wharton. You will learn from this course the different financing models like bootstrapping, organic growth, debt and risk capital. You will also understand equity financing, the different types of investors, and about exit strategies. You will get feedback on your own pitch deck, and may even be selected to pitch to investors from venture capital firms.