Eight [8] great free online courses for small business owners

[Source: SmartCompany http://www.smartcompany.com.au]

1. Prepare for growth

If you are set to grow your business in 2014, this course could inspire. Run by the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, ‘Grow to Greatness: Smart Growth for Private Businesses’ explores common growth challenges and how to overcome them to take your business further.

2. Management

Management is an all-encompassing word when it comes to SMEs, and so is the breadth of tasks a business owner is required to do. At Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management, the materials from most of its top MBA-level courses are available free online, to access in your own time.

3. Accounting 101

You may hire people to do your accounts, but having skills in this area can ensure you are making informed decisions and feel in control. This course, ‘An Introduction to Financial Accounting’, from Wharton, University of Pennsylvania, proposes to improve fluency in financial accounting and to help you understand how to interpret financial statements.

4. Succeed at self-improvement

As a business owner, setting goals is a day-to-day task, but sticking to goals can be harder; especially if the goals are more personal and involve self-improvement. This course, ‘Unlocking the Immunity to Change: A New Approach to Personal Improvement’ from Harvard, is designed to help you apply new psychological theory about personal change to an improvement-goal of your own.

5. Get to know big data

Big data is not just a buzz phrase, it is a vital tool that small-to-medium businesses need to embrace. It helps you track what customers want so you can gain an edge on competitors. This course, ‘The Analytics Edge’ via Massachusetts Institute of Technology is designed to help people understand the power of data and analytics, for use in both work and personal life.

6. Marketing savvy

In 2014, no SME can get away without having a marketing strategy. Before hiring an expert to implement one, or embarking on your own approach, brush up on your understanding of branding, customer loyalty and how to get your business noticed. ‘An Introduction to Marketing’, run by Wharton, University of Pennsylvania covers these ideas, as well as omni-channel strategies, social targeting and social advertising.

7. Lead with EI

A great level of emotional intelligence can set a powerful leader apart from the rest. This course, ‘Inspiring Leadership through Emotional Intelligence’, from Case Western Reserve University sets out to build your levels of emotional intelligence to help you lead with mindfulness and compassion. It looks at building good relationships and managing stress.

8. Sell your business

SmartCompany regularly runs webinars which are aimed specifically at helping you improve your business. Subscribe to the SmartCompany email to find out about upcoming webinars when you can participate online and quiz experts. You can also access previous webinars under the “Resources” tab on the homepage like this popular webinar on How to sell your business for 10x its worth. It covers the basics of business succession planning, whether you want to step down or just to guard your family’s assets against the unforeseen.