Level Up Your Business Skills for Free with These Valuable Resources
Here at 5 Star, we understand that owning, managing, or working for a small business requires you to wear many hats. Simply solving problems and completing the necessary tasks on any given day can be considered a learning experience in and of itself. But as an owner, manager, or employee of a small business, it’s crucial to seek out efficient ways of learning new work-related skills in order to best serve your clients and keep up with market trends and technological innovations related to your industry. So here are a few places where you can find many high-quality and free professional development resources that help level up your skills and knowledge base to work more effectively at your small business.
Wisconsin Small Business Development Center and U.S. Small Business Association
Wisconsin Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) offer self-paced online courses to help you build the necessary skills to start, run, and grow your business. Not only do the Wisconsin SBDC and U.S. SBA offer a free course to help you explore your business idea and determine whether you’re ready to become an entrepreneur, but their Learning Center also offers courses in topics ranging from pricing strategy to employee recruitment and retention, to social media marketing. Also offered through these valuable organizations is the free Ascent for Women program, an online platform for women who are interested in starting or growing a business.
Google Digital Garage
It’s no secret that some level of digital skills is a prerequisite to growth, innovation, and success in pretty much every type of business. And one provider of quality digital education related to business success is the entity that is arguably responsible for the explosion of the digital world in the past couple of decades: Google. Google Digital Garage offers courses that are self-paced and variable in length (with many in the 1–3 hour range) covering such topics as getting your business online and expanding your business into another country. Google Digital Garage also acts as a hub for massive open online courses (MOOCs) produced by other organizations, such as Business Communication, produced by Goodwill Community Foundation, and Customer Segmentation and Prospecting, created by Northwestern University.
Hubspot, a developer of marketing software products, is a champion of content marketing and inbound marketing—two closely related forms of marketing that focus on providing valuable content in order to gain authority in an industry and to gain the trust of a target audience in order to strengthen a brand by “attracting, engaging, and delighting” customers. It’s no surprise, then, that Hubspot’s own Hubspot Academy offers a wealth of content that engages businesspersons like you. Hubspot Academy offers in-depth video- and quiz-based courses in marketing topics such as email marketing, website optimization, digital advertising, and much more. They also offer free certificate courses—after you complete the course videos and quizzes and successfully take a final assessment, you will receive a certificate and badge that you can put in your LinkedIn profile to signal your mastery of the essential business skills you acquired.
Social Media Platforms Such as YouTube and Instagram
Did you know that YouTube is not just a fun way to procrastinate—it is actually the second-largest search engine, right behind Google. That means that on it you can find a treasure trove of educational videos relating to all things small business. And Instagram is great for finding inspiration and information posted in attractive, bite-sized chunks by businesspeople whose success you aspire to. Try searching hashtags like #smallbusinesstips, #smallbusinessowner, #digitalmarketingstrategy, and the many, many variations of them just to get started.
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