- Coursera, LinkedIn Learning and Udemy offer deep, diverse and growing libraries of business education courses.
- Adobe, Google, HP and Microsoft offer online branded training and certifications to support their software and hardware.
- You can access growth-mindset courses with free and accessible online learning and training from edX, OpenLearn and the U.S. Small Business Administration.
- This article is for entrepreneurs, small business owners and professionals who are looking to learn new skills and enhance their business knowledge on a limited budget.
Many entrepreneurs, small business owners and professionals are turning to online programs to boost their business skills and broaden the scope of their knowledge. The booming online learning market offers education and resources related to in-demand career skills, like web development, cybersecurity, data analysis, trade tariffs, specialized hardware and software, and much more.
We’ll highlight 11 established, new and niche business education resources and platforms for business owners and professionals who are looking to expand their skill sets.
Online programs to boost your business skills
In 2022, the online learning market surpassed $315 billion. According to Global Market Insights, a U.S.-based research company, the market is expected to grow another 20% by 2028.
Amid this wealth of resources, the following platforms can help you access high-quality, specialized courses online to develop your business skills. Consider each platform’s content and learning style when you’re choosing an educational path.
An annual paid learning subscription with Adobe Digital Learning Services includes multiple instruction options, including live virtual instructor-led training (in multiple global time zones) and on-demand recorded Adobe software training (accessible 24/7). All courses in the Americas are in English, but there’s also a Japan-based subscription.
Training prices for Adobe developers, implementers or creatives may offer an attractive return on investment, as Adobe software certifications are some of the most widely known and respected creative certifications in the U.S. The paid training is designed to prepare learners for certification exams for credentials such as Adobe Certified Expert or Adobe Certified Professional.
Visit Adobe Digital Learning Services online for more information.
Tip: Use your newly honed Adobe Creative Cloud skills to effectively market your business and craft a corporate identity.
Leading experts and instructors from the world’s best universities teach courses on Coursera. Small business owners and professionals who are interested in training and continuous learning can access video lectures, community discussion forums, and auto-graded and peer-reviewed assignments.
Coursera offers a range of free and paid content, including university-recognized degrees. Choose from several tracks and hundreds of courses ranging from software programs, such as Microsoft Excel, to hard business skills, like financial accounting. Coursera also offers training materials for Google Cloud certifications and the best database certifications.
Visit Coursera’s website to learn more.
On edX, small business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals can enroll in free online courses from top universities worldwide. edX offers over 3,600 courses, from critical thinking to data modeling, from more than 160 universities. Courses are open 24/7; you can complete them on your schedule. Some of the more niche offerings on edX include free PowerShell training and free project management materials.
Although university experts teach edX courses, the courses are non-credit-bearing. However, you can get a verified certificate to prove you’ve mastered the class and concepts. Most edX courses are taught in English, but some video courses are in Spanish, French or Chinese. Check the At a Glance section on a course’s introduction page to confirm course and video transcript language offerings.
Visit the edX website to learn more.
Grow with Google
Small business owners and employees can grow their businesses and learn applicable career skills through free content on the Grow with Google platform. Organized by solutions to common questions, the free content on the Grow Your Career and Grow Your Business verticals is engaging and easy to navigate.
The self-paced training courses for online professional career certificates are not free, and some require a monthly subscription. However, course development is done in partnership with learning companies such as Coursera, as well as colleges and universities, lending them additional credibility.
The small business growth resources are free bite-size tutorials that support owners and managers as they leverage Google’s digital tools to build awareness of their companies, engage with customers or analyze their digital data. Business owners can also find Google training in Spanish.
Visit the Grow with Google website to learn more.
Did you know?: If you’re looking for ways to help your small business grow, check out Google for Small Business, a free online portal that gives businesses resources for growth and success.
Tech giant Hewlett-Packard (HP) provides a free global training program called HP LIFE (Learning Initiative for Entrepreneurs) to educate business owners. HP LIFE offers courses in eight languages and multiple verticals, including communications, finance, marketing and operations. HP created the HP LIFE learning opportunities in partnership with other companies.
Visit the HP LIFE website to learn more.
LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com)
LinkedIn Learning is an online video education library offering hundreds of courses on foundational business topics taught by thought leaders, authors and trusted online educators. For example, it offers excellent courses and guided practice for software such as the Adobe Creative Suite.
LinkedIn Learning has learning paths, so you can take courses that build your skills on a topic from beginner to expert levels. The course catalog includes video and audio courses in seven languages — English, German, Spanish, French, Brazilian Portuguese, Japanese and Mandarin — as well as subtitling options.
While LinkedIn Learning isn’t free and requires a subscription, many U.S. public libraries offer free access to LinkedIn Learning, making the courses accessible to anyone with a public library card.
Visit the LinkedIn Learning website to learn more.
Key takeaway: Business owners and professionals can also use LinkedIn business resources, including company and career pages, LinkedIn profiles for job searches, and LinkedIn groups for effective networking.
The free Microsoft Learn platform offers product and role-based training paths. It can support your goals whether you’re seeking Excel training for yourself or data analytics training for an employee who’s growing into a new data analyst role. While the training content is free, the Microsoft certification exams come with a price tag.
Visit the Microsoft Learn website to learn more.
The Open University is a free online learning platform with 60-second videos as well as 24 hours of course content. Browse OpenLearn’s offerings by course, qualification or subject area. It features several business-specific courses — such as business management, economics and marketing — as well as IT, design and law. For defined degrees, the Open University may charge tuition.
Visit OpenLearn’s business content online to learn more.
Small Business Administration
The Small Business Administration (SBA) has supported U.S. businesses for generations through SBA loans, support and an extensive online learning platform. All SBA resources are free. They’re ideal for new entrepreneurs and small business owners who are looking to learn business basics.
Courses on writing a business plan, financing options, social media marketing, and sales are popular offerings. There’s also SBA en Español, a dedicated section of the website for Spanish-speaking small business owners.
Visit the SBA Learning Platform website to learn more.
Udacity provides online courses and learning resources for individuals who are interested in entering the U.S. tech industry. This platform focuses primarily on data science, cybersecurity, AI (artificial intelligence) and other high-demand tech skills.
Udacity breaks down learning into nanodegree paths that provide credentialing. Its courses are in English and may be available for translation into other languages, but that option varies by course. Depending on which courses you sign up for, Udacity may charge a fee.
Visit the Udacity website to learn more.
Udemy considers itself a global community. Instructors from around the world, teaching in over 75 languages, created the Udemy course catalog. With 200,000-plus offerings, you’re sure to find a broad selection of courses in multiple learning styles on topics such as Microsoft Excel, web development and data science. The price per course is lower than for some other large platforms.
Visit the Udemy website to learn more.
Did you know?: Providing access to online courses for your team can ensure effective employee training in the areas your business needs for growth and success.
Benefits of using online business education programs
Online learning programs can enhance your skill set and support your organization regardless of your current role or business stage.
Some benefits of online business education programs include the following:
- Online business education can strengthen your organization. You can learn new skills and business concepts to set up your company for future growth.
- Online business education is cost-effective. Many online learning programs are free or low-cost.
- You can learn at your own pace with online business education. You can focus your attention on growing your business while developing your skills at your own pace.
- Online business education closes skills gaps. Business owners may discover a skills gap in their workforce when their business grows, enters new markets or introduces new product lines, or when technology advances faster than their current employees’ knowledge base. Online business programs can help close those skill gaps by matching employees with online programs that meet their needs.
- Online business education saves time and money. Business owners save time and money by retraining themselves or their teams and helping them learn new skills. They devote less time to hiring new staff while engaging current employees and supporting their professional development.
Online business learning platforms offer endless opportunities
The online learning market is robust, providing nuanced options for business owners and professionals who are seeking to boost their business skills.
As the online learning market grows, so will the accessibility of specialized courses that meet your business’s unique needs. If you’re a business owner, the skills you acquire can help grow your business to new levels. If you’re seeking to advance your career, these courses give you new skill sets while showing employers your willingness to learn.
Matt D’Angelo contributed to the reporting and writing in this article.