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Best Online Courses to Grow Your SME

Looking for a way to grow your small or medium sized business? Do you get the sense that doing a business related training course could help, but you don’t want to fork out thousands? It can be hard to find the right business training or coaching program, especially when you often need to invest a significant amount before knowing if it’s going to deliver on its promises.

Fortunately, low cost and free online business training courses do exist – and some offer a lot of value. They’re a great way to see what business training is all about, try different learning formats and dip your toes into the business learning industry without spending up big. We searched the net to find the best courses on offer for SMBs.

Below is what we found to be the best option – an institute that is extremely popular and is recognized for its excellence in term of content and value. In fact, they are the world’s leading provider of free online education for entrepreneurs. They can help you to fill in the gaps of knowledge you need to start, run and grow a business.

Free courses with My Own Business Institute

MOBI’s mission is start businesses that create jobs by providing training and resources to entrepreneurs around the world. Their online courses teach new entrepreneurs how to start businesses and experienced ones how to grow businesses. Through audio, video and text, they will teach you how to pick a business, how to finance it, how to build a client base and how to create a successful team. Their curriculum and website are based on the work of Phil Holland, successful entrepreneur and author of The Entrepreneurs Guide.

Check out some of there success stories here.

Here’s an outline of their two main courses with links to the course material.

Starting a Business

“This course is designed for someone who wants to start a business. Comprised of 15 sessions, you can cover the coursework at your own pace and learn the essentials. The content is clearly explained and has an emphasis on learning how to write a business plan. All of the sessions of the course are available for preview.”

Session   1: Deciding on a Business

Session   2: The Business Plan

Session   3: Home Based Business

Session   4: Financing the Business

Session   5: Business Organization

Session   6: Licenses and Permits

Session   7: Business Insurance

Session   8: Communication Tools

Session   9: Buying a Business or Franchise

Session 10: Location and Leasing

Session 11: Accounting and Cash Flow

Session 12: E-Commerce

Session 13: Opening and Marketing

Session 14: Managing Employees

Session 15: Expanding and Handling Problems

Business Expansion

“This course helps established business owners advance their business to the next level. Comprised of 15 sessions, you can cover the coursework at your own pace. Learn how to strengthen operations, seize opportunities and plan for the future. This course covers appropriate internal controls, expansion opportunities, evaluation methods and exit strategies.”

Session   1: Getting Financial Controls in Place

Session   2: Getting Your Team in Place

Session   3: Customer Feedback

Session   4: Achieving Lowest Expenses

Session   5: Develop Negotiating Skills

Session   6: Alternatives for Capital Allocation

Session   7: Advanced E-Commerce

Session   8: Growth By Duplication

Session   9: Vertical Integration

Session 10: Franchising Your Business

Session 11: Global Expansion

Session 12: Buying Businesses

Session 13: Public Ownership

Session 14: Selling Your Business

Session 15: Considerations for Family Succession


Certificate IV in New Small Business

This is another (albeit more costly) option available through Open Colleges Australia. It’s a nationally recognised qualification that provides a solid foundation for managing a small business.

“You’ll learn about the legal and risk management requirements of small businesses, about legislation codes and regulatory requirements and how to develop a financial plan. You’ll also learn the basics of developing marketing and customer service strategies and how to monitor your business performance.

You’ll receive comprehensive support from your trainer and assessor, and gain access to OpenSpace, Open Colleges’ virtual campus, offering you a range of learning materials and study tools to assist you in your studies. If you’ve always wanted to start your own small business, the first step is getting the background knowledge and the Certificate IV in New Small Business is a terrific starting point.”

The cost is $2632 upfront, or $100 deposit and $69.35 a week.

Click here for more info.

More free online courses and certifications

Small business site recently released a list of free online courses and certifications on specific topics. Here are our pick of the best for SMBs:

Microsoft Office Training Center (Multiple Courses)

Prerequisites: None
Free Certificate: No
Course Creator: Microsoft

Whether your are an IT professional, an accountant, a doctor or a clerk, you will always need Microsoft office products (Word, Excel, Powerpoint) to manage and edit your data. For this purpose we decided to share this amazing opportunity to get familiar with all their products by watching detailed video lessons created by Microsoft itself! Yes, you can now become an MS Office guru for free and show off your amazing skills to your colleagues and make them jealous. Click here to Enrol

Digital Marketing Certification by Google

Prerequisites: None
Free Certificate: Yes
Course Creator: Google

For all those who want to become expert at online marketing and skyrocket their online business then this course is a real game changer for you. Google is offering this free online marketing certification to all. Incredible right? It will not only enable you to learn digital marketing skills for your business but will also add an awesome badge to your CV if you’re looking for a similar job. Whether we deserve it or not we gotta take advantage of this opportunity. Click here to Enrol

Bachelors in Computer Science (Online Degree)

Prerequisites: None
Free Certificate: Yes
Course Creator: University of People

Wait what? Tuition-Free online Bachelor’s Degree? Yes! it’s true. University of People (accredited by Distance Education Accrediting Commission) is offering an online Bachelor’s degree in Computer Sciences. Being accredited in the United States means the degree should be recognized in all countries. University of California Berkeley even offers transferring the whole degree to their university for top performing students. How amazing is that. Just to make it clear, it is a tuition-free degree. There is a $60 admission fee and $100 per exam fee involved. So you will still need to invest in a little of your savings account to earn the degree. Click here to Enrol

Introduction to Financial Accounting

Prerequisites: None
Free Certificate: No
Course Creator: University of Pennsylvania

If you are new to the realm of Accounting and Finance and are looking for something to get started with then this course created by the University of Pennsylvania should give you a kick-start. However, there are two options to take this course: Either purchase the course and participate in the quizzes / exams and get a certificate on completion OR take the course for free by learning through video lectures and leaving without a certificate. Coursera offers the opportunity to enroll for free if you can’t afford the fee. Click here to Enrol

QuickBooks Pro

Prerequisites: None
Free Certificate: No
Course Creator: Simon Sez IT

This might be a real eye-opener for all accountants and Book keepers out there. If you don’t already know, Quickbooks is one of a leading software used for accounting and bookkeeping. If you have good command on it then you might not be too far from getting your dream job. The problem is Quickbooks courses are training can be really expensive and those who don’t have a decent income will think twice before pursuing them. But don’t worry we’ve got it covered because we have found this free 2-hour course for you guys. Click here to Enrol

Preparing to Manage Human Resources

Prerequisites: None
Free Certificate: No
Course Creator: University of Minnesota

University of Minnesota has created a free course for students who want to pursue their careers in the Human Resources. In the recent years HR has become a very important part of the corporate sector. Research shows that companies who focus on HR along with their other primary objectives have more satisfied employees and their retention periods are much higher compared with other companies. This course will teach you how to effectively manage your most important organizational assets i-e employees. Click here to Enrol

Click here for the complete article (there are plenty of course options in the IT space).

With such a great range of free or low cost courses available, it’s a no brainer to check them out. As a small or medium sized business, retaining your competitive advantage is going to be instrumental to your growth. Stay ahead of the rest by developing your skills and knowledge (particularly around cloud computing and online marketing), in a rapidly changing business environment.