If you’re a business owner consumed with the day-to-day rigors of running a business, it’s easy to put thoughts of continuing education on the back burner. After all, owning and managing a business is no walk in the park.
There’s also the question of value for investment. Aren’t you already learning real-world business skills by being in the trenches from day to day?
The need to physically attend classes is another major concern. Business travels, tight deadlines, demanding customers, field emergencies – for most entrepreneurs, business management occupies most of their waking days.
Add in family time and your personal down time, and there’s no time left to focus on continuing online education.
Continuing education – the advantages
In most cases, continuing education can be likened to a trip to the doctor you’ve been putting off for days. You know it’s good for you, but you keep telling yourself there’s not enough time, and that you’ll do it when the workload eases up a bit or when your finances are in order.
And when you finally get down to it, you wish you’ve done so sooner.
Below are some of the benefits of continuing education:
Boost your credibility
An MBA or a project management certificate doesn’t just look nice on your resume. Consistently updating your skill set keeps the sword sharp, so to speak, and constantly polishing your expertise boosts your credibility.
Widen your network
Professors can turn out to be mentors, and classmates can become business partners, associates, contacts, or even clients. When you’re in the company of productive, like-minded people, you open up opportunities that are otherwise hard to come by when you’re too busy working in your isolated world, consumed by the grunt work.
Keeping a business afloat can be overwhelming. When exhaustion takes over and you begin to lose the enthusiasm you had when you were just starting, it’s time to recharge. Engaging with enthusiasts, veterans, and some new blood with exciting ideas and insightful experiences can bring the old spark back to life.
Every year, new entrants join the pool. And every year, new practices are introduced. It’s no secret in business that those who fail to adapt are at risk of becoming obsolete. Continuing education can keep your ideas, processes, and tools cutting edge.
You’ll hear about the newest tools in the market, be forewarned of the latest business trends, and take advantage of their merits ahead of everyone else.
Online sites for continuing education
There are various options to make continuing education possible, and online education is an option that suits the busy, highly mobile entrepreneur. You can determine your study time, learn at your own pace (as long as you complete the required work sheets), and participate regardless of your time zone or location.
Below is a list of online learning sites to advance your business sensibility, followed by a few examples of the various courses they offer:
With a catalog that totals 1,340 courses and 127 partner institutions spread across 25 countries, Coursera is no doubt a powerhouse.
Coursera courses come with video lectures, built-in quizzes, reading assignments, and handouts. All video courses are subtitled in the course’s main language. You can take courses as they are or go on a multi-course specialization track.
- Business Strategy Specialization from The University of Virginia Darden School of Business – four-course specialization, cost: $79 per course
- Strategic Business Analytics Specialization from ESSEC Center for Digital Business – three courses at $79 each
- Social Media Marketing Specialization from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications – five courses at $79 each
Created by Harvard and MIT in 2012, edX has evolved to become yet another e-learning giant. Contributions are from various partner institutions, and courses are crafted by industry and academic experts. The courses come with captioned video lectures, downloadable transcripts and handouts, discussion boards, quizzes, midterms, final exams, and homework requirements.
Courses can be taken at no charge, but you’ll have to pay a fee for verified certificates. Donations to the institution are also welcome.
- Strategy and the Sustainable Enterprise from the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore – verified certificate: $25
- Financial Analysis and Decision Making from Tsinghua University – verified certificate: $49
- Contract Law: From Trust to Promise to Contract from Harvard – verified certificate: $100
Study.com is a subscription-based e-learning site with a video lecture library of over 10,000 lessons. The Basic plan offers limited features at $49.99 per month. The Premium edition, priced at $99.99 per month, comes with all the features of the Basic plan, plus practice quizzes and tests.
The College Accelerator plan at $199.99 per month covers all Premium features plus, after proctored final exams, the potential to earn college credit.
Study.com can be tested for free for five days.
- Economics 102: Macroeconomics
- Business 102: Principles of Marketing
- Supplemental Business: Study Aid
Udemy has an impressive volume of 32,000+ courses as of this writing, showcasing a wide range of topics from programming to photography, to yoga. The site also has an option called udemyteach, where you can sign up to be an expert instructor and share your lessons to Udemy’s market.
- The Online Marketing Crash Course: Traffic, Leads & Clients – cost: $297
- Product Management 101 – cost: free
- Business Basic: Learn Sales and Business Case Development – cost: $89
- How to Get Your Business in the Press – cost: $149
Note: A Udemy discount coupon of up to 75% is currently available at the Cloudswave site.
Harvard Business School’s HBX CORe (Credential of Readiness) is a two-month business curriculum consisting of three courses: Business Analytics, Economics for Managers, and Financial Accounting. Presented by HBS faculty with the same rigor online as on campus, it teaches the fundamentals of business to those with or without prior business education.
Students can also earn eight undergraduate credits from Harvard Extension School if they enroll in the credit version.
In terms of time investment, CORe requires 12 to 15 hours a week, on average. Moneywise, it costs $1,800 for the noncredit version and $3,600 for the undergraduate credit version, which comes with access to online library resources, workshops, and career webinars.
With the aim to build an online university “by Silicon Valley,” Udacity is an e-learning site focused on tech entrepreneurs. It delivers courses they call nanodegrees that are recognized by industry leaders such as AT&T, Google, Cloudera, Salesforce, and Autodesk.
Access to Udacity courses is free. But if you want coach support, code reviews, and a certificate, upgrading to a paid enrollment is the way to go. This costs $200 per month, with a chance to get half of the total investment back if you finish the program in less than 12 months.
- Tech Entrepreneur Nanodegree – It teaches the skills you need to build a tech business from scratch, from product ideation to marketing, to monetization.
- Data Analyst Nanodegree – This course teaches the skills that enterprises seek from data analysts.
- Full Stack Web Developer Nanodegree – It teaches the skills you need to build complex server-side web applications, and secure and configure your own Linux-based server to host your applications.
Continuing online education, no matter how busy you think you are, is a worthy investment for your business. To make sure your business gets nothing but the best hands to steer it to success, you need to invest in the person who runs it: you.
Images: “Education concept: computer keyboard with Head With Gears icon and word Online Education on enter button background, 3d render/Shutterstock.com“
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