Many of the most famous (and successful) entrepreneurs share one thing in common: they failed to finish college. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Mark Zuckerberg, and David Karp all left school to chase their dreams. It seems, then, that not all entrepreneurs need a college education to be a success. However, many entrepreneurs aren’t as confident in their business sense and wish they could find a way to learn exactly what they need. While many colleges are adding degrees in entrepreneurship and business management, it may not be feasible for you to attend a four-year college program. Instead, you can look for opportunities to take classes based on the skills you need.
As an entrepreneur, you’ll find that marketing has become part of your daily activities. You will be marketing your ideas to investors, promoting your products to customers and dealing with vendors. Through marketing classes, you’ll learn how to engage with your audience and how to conduct the research necessary to develop viable products.
You aren’t necessarily expected to have a degree in finance or accounting to start your own business, but a general knowledge of the ins and outs of finance will come in handy. It can help you understand the difference between risk and reward, the value of time, and more. In addition, some basic accounting classes can help you learn the intricacies of inventory and cash flow.
If you’ve ever worked for anyone else, you are keenly aware of the difference between a manager who knows what they are doing and one who does not. To avoid many of the pitfalls that managers fall into, study the principles of management. Learn how to communicate with your staff effectively, how to encourage collaboration, and how to motivate your team to be productive.
Another basic business class that can benefit entrepreneurs is economics. This overview into how to manage goods and services can help you learn how to produce, distribute, and manage the products of your company. You’ll gain an understanding of how government policies affect the ebb and tide of your daily activities.
Entrepreneurs must constantly speak to others about their company to be successful. They’re pitching to investors, speaking to potential employees, and promoting their company to customers. If you haven’t had much experience in these areas, a public speaking class can help you banish any nerves. You’ll learn how to speak within a time frame, how to emphasize specific portions of a presentation, and how to monitor your speaking habits.
Ready to increase your entrepreneur skills? Consider taking one of these free online courses.
21 Critical Lessons for Entrepreneurs
Presented by Jason Nazar, CEO of Docstoc, this two-hour video-based course is drawn from Nazar’s personal experiences. He covers all stages of business development, from beginning with your initial idea to seeking funding for strategic growth and everything in between. You can take this class at your own pace and master each topic before moving to the next one.
Marketing in a Digital World
Mastering the use of today’s digital tools—smartphones, 3D printers, and the Internet, to name a few—can take a lifetime. In the meantime, it is important to harness the use of these tools for maximum effectiveness. Designed for college students, this class is highly rated among entrepreneurs.
Foundations of Business Strategies
A seven-hour marketing program designed to help you understand complex and competitive markets and maximize your value creation. Give your company an edge by learning how to analyze the capabilities and structure of your company (and your competitors’).
Scaling Operations: Linking Strategy and Execution
This five-week course teaches entrepreneurs the steps to building a stable, scalable business. According to the course designers, no one starts a business with the intention of staying small. Learn the fundamentals of framing your company, outsourcing, marketing, and scaling in this Northwestern University class.
How to Make Money Online: Passive Income Business Plan
A 12-week program guides participants through the stages of executing their online idea. It details how to set up a passive income business that can earn them over $5,000 in revenue.
Introduction to Web Development: HTML
No one is expecting you to become a web developer, but taking a basic introductory class can help save you time and money in the long run. You will be able to create pages and edit and make minor changes to an existing website. These skills won’t land you a job as a website designer, but you will have enough knowledge to handle any small task.
You may not have time to take a traditional college course, but a class that you can complete on your own schedule may be feasible. No matter what type of business you’re in, there is always room for improvement. One of these classes may be exactly what you need to move forward to the next stage of your company.