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The Top 4 Free Online Courses for Business Owners

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To keep a competitive edge in today’s marketplace, it’s important to keep up with the trends and think of ways to improve. One great way to get ahead is through online courses. There are a wide variety of online training courses designed specifically with small business owners in mind. Even better, many of these courses are free!

Picking up a few business courses can not only keep you up to date on changes in your industry, but it can also help you to learn new marketing strategies, management tactics and business operations best practices. In this post, we’ve outlined the top four free online courses that will help you improve specific areas of your small business.

1. To better understand innovation and market change:

The Open University’s Course is a nonprofit that offers a variety of free online courses. If you want to gain a better understanding of innovation and change within your market, you should check out one of their courses, "Innovation, Markets and Industrial Change".

This course helps small business owners assess the role of innovation in their specific market and analyze how costs can change as a new technology is introduced. By completing this course, which is broken into six different units, you will also be able to understand the connection between consumer demand and price as well as production costs and industry structure.

2. To learn to conduct a thorough market assessment:

The University of California, Irvine, offers a free online business course called, “Conducting a Through Market Assessment.” The course is led by Brant Cooper and Patrick Vlaskovits, both entrepreneurs  and co-authors of The Entrepreneurs Guide to Customer Development.

In the course, Cooper and Vlaskovits teach the ways to determine target customers and understand what strategies will work in your specific market. After taking this course, you will have a better understanding of why or why not your business plan will succeed with your target audience.

Not only is this lecture informative, you can watch it in less than an hour!

3. To become an expert in small business marketing:

If you would like to gain a deeper understanding of marketing trends for small businesses, you should consider "Entrepreneurial Marketing," one of various free online business courses offered by The Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The course will help you understand the critical marketing concepts and strategies, specifically pertaining to entrepreneurs and small businesses. It will help small business owners gain a holistic understanding of marketing in general.

After this course, you will gain an understanding of how to identify your target audience and how to use your specific resources to communicate directly to this audience.

4. To master small business planning:

Small business owners who would like to become experts at small business planning should consider this Carnegie Mellon Course. The course is led by consultant Mark Juliano, and lectures are available in a series of PowerPoint slides. The course covers areas, such as brainstorming new ideas, team building best practices, considerations to make when starting a company and critical questions to ask when developing a business plan.

The class also covers a wide range of other topics, including funding, sales and marketing and legal issues, giving small business owners a quick guide to all that they need to know to achieve initial success. If you have already developed a business plan, this course still could be useful and offer critical insights from a leading industry expert.

If you would like to take one of these courses, take time to consider which would best fit with your specific needs and goals. While this list includes four of the top courses, there are a variety of other options available. To see more classes, check out Entrepreneur’s post, 10 Free Online Courses that Benefit Every Entrepreneur.

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