Entrepreneurs juggle many balls at the same time. Finding the right tools and resources to master necessary skills can save you both time and money in the long run. And there are plenty of online learning tools for small business owners and DIY entrepreneurial types that are 100% free. As an entrepreneur myself, I understand that the self-employed wear many hats. On any given day, you could be the marketing manager, accountant, secretary, or web designer. Unless you're a modern day Renaissance man, that means you're probably going to have to teach yourself how to do a whole lot of new things. Luckily you can find a host of free online learning resources, apps, and tools to teach you just about anything. Here's a list of seven particularly useful ones perfect for new small business owners.
7 Great Online Learning Tools for Small Business Owners
1. Create a Website
Regardless of your business type, you need a website. In today’s technology-based world, the lack of a website brands you as unprofessional and out-of-touch. Thankfully, even the most technologically impaired business owner can create a website for their business using Google's Blogger. This easy-to-use interface has customized templates where you can add specific pages or blog posts. Blogger also has a series of videos that will walk you through the entire process. Blogger is the perfect solution for the DIY entrepreneur or small business owner who wants an engaging website they can create and control.
2. Never Make Grammar Mistakes Again
Want your professional image to scream unprofessional? Use bad grammar. Recently, I had an email conversation with a potential client where her grammar skills degraded into middle school texting territory. I was embarrassed for her, and I knew that she would never get the kind of respect needed to land big clients. She could not write simple business communications without making glaring grammatical errors. Who wants to work with someone who can’t communicate on a professional level? That’s where Ginger comes into play. It’s a free software system that you can download onto your computer and it will check both your grammar and spelling. With Ginger, you can avoid embarrassing mistakes and look like an educated professional.
3. Manage Meetings Better
When you were picturing yourself as an entrepreneur, did you ever dream of sitting in endless meetings? Ever wanted to sit in a windowless conference room, participating in a pointless and unproductive meeting? Of course not! Free Management Library had an entire section devoted to effectively managing your next meeting. You can learn time management skills and how to develop agendas. You can even learn why some meetings fail. This information will be a lifesaver for your next meeting.
4. Learn Essential Business Skills
Let’s say you wanted to learn how to create a need for your product or the basic principles of accounting. You could find a class at your local community college, but that might not fit into your schedule. Thankfully, there are several free resources that will teach you essential business skills. Check out the following resources for free online courses in anything from Entrepreneurship to how to create and manage a socially responsible business.
5. Find the Best Business Books
Time and money are very precious to entrepreneurs and small business owners. That’s the principle behind the Personal MBA. The website states that “You can teach yourself everything you need to know to succeed in life and at work.” Although you can purchase the Personal MBA book, the website has a ton of free information including a list of the best business books. This list sorts books into categories like Problem Solving, Productivity & Effectiveness, Negotiation and Sales. Education is the key to success, and it is possible to teach yourself everything you need to know. And remember, many of these books and learning resources are available for free at your local library.
6. Master Ad Layout and Design Templates
Ever wonder why some ads work and others don’t? There are many variables in creating a killer ad, but hiring a professional is costly. However, desktop publishing is easy when you use David Ogilvy’s 5 Step Formula. Ogilvy's strategy is based on consumer research, including what readers see first when they look at an advertisement. I recommend creating your next ad or flyer using this integrated strategy. You don’t need graphic design skills, just follow the simple template.
7. Get Started Already!
Ready to start your business or need guidance growing your existing business? Wicked Start is a free online learning tool that will take you step-by-step through the start-up process. The resources are too numerous to list, but this site includes a management tool and a personal roadmap tool. Keep in mind that inadequate planning is a direct contributor to small business failures. Wicked Start is the perfect way to start your business on the right foot.
About the Author: Liesha Petrovich, has been a small business owner for almost 17 years. She holds a Master in Higher Education and is currently working towards a DBA in Entrepreneurship. Her primary focus is on teaching entrepreneurs and small business owners the skills they need to succeed in business.
Image Credit: stevendepolo (flickr)