It can be difficult to find the right online business training program, especially when you have to invest a significant amount of money into the program in order to see what it's all about. Free online business training programs are a great way to see what's available, explore various learning formats, and get your feet wet in online training before investing money in a paid program. Here are five free online small business training sites that not only provide an introduction to online programs but also offer a depth of information that can be invaluable to any business owner.
The Small Business Administration has a series of self-paced, easy-to-use courses that cover a variety of business basics. Each course takes about 30 minutes to complete, and many of the courses have audio explanations, videos, and podcasts. Here is an outline of the course offerings:
- Starting a Business: Starting an online business, business plans, franchises, and adopting technology for business benefits.
- Managing a Business: Taking your business global, using technology, preparing a business plan, entering into a franchise, planning for disasters and preventing crime.
- Financing a Business: Introduction to accounting and an overview of how to prepare a loan package.
- Contracting: Tips for working with government agencies.
Provided by Kutztown University of Pennsylvania this is a growing collection of free online learning programs that focus on entrepreneurial training. The learning programs are a compilation of training materials from the SBA, IRS, Small Biz U, Virtual Advisor and custom programs from the Pennsylvania SBDC Network.
Available programs include:
- Bilingual (English/Spanish)
- Business Operations and Management
- Business Planning
- International Business
- Management Development
- Small Business Tax
- Starting and Growing a Business
Coursera is an online learning tool with courses taught by top instructors from universities and educational institutions. Courses include recorded video lectures, auto-graded and peer-reviewed assignments, and community discussion forums. Some courses are free, others start at $29. Financial Aid is also available through the site. Some of the top business courses include:
- Leading People and Teams
- Construction Management
- Human Resource Management: HR for People Managers
- Achieving Personal and Professional Success
- Conflict Management
Microsoft’s online training site has extensive tutorials on all of the Office 2010, 2007 and 2003 applications, from basic usage to more advanced training. The site also has downloadable training presentations, interactive guides, workbooks and program demos that can help you get more out of these everyday business applications. The software covered includes:
- Live Meeting
- SharePoint Server
My Own Business, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that provides a free online business course for the entrepreneur who wants to start his or her own business, and the individual who has an established small business and would like to see that business grow and expand.
The training is broken down into 16 sessions that cover the most important topics for anyone starting or operating a business. The course also includes the following bonuses:
- Sample business plans and templates
- Quizzes to verify your level of understanding
- Video and audio clips from experts share how to overcome common problems
- New business start-up checklist covering all business topics
- Session summaries to minimize the risks of mistakes