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The Best Free Online Certifications For Business Owners
March 10, 2020
The Best Free Online Certifications For Business Owners

The Best Free Online Certifications For Business Owners

For many entrepreneurs, there was a tremendous learning curve associated with their business success. Whether an experienced MBA or lacking formal education, there are always new problems. To face these challenges, you must be able to understand what allowed your business to grow and function.

It’s here where online certifications can become beneficial to business owners. The best free online courses teach entrepreneurs to learn new skills and grow. Plus, there’s never a need to step into a classroom or detract from your busy schedule.

Why Do Online Certifications Matter?

Long ago, the only options for struggling entrepreneurs to learn new things were to:

  • Enroll in expensive, time-consuming local college courses
  • Consult with business coaches or mentors in person or over the phone
  • Figure things out along the way and hope for the best

Luckily, there’s now access to a rapidly expanding network of free or low-cost online business courses. For this reason, regardless of your challenges, there’s a resource for solutions to your business problems. No matter the business challenge, you can arm yourself with the information needed for the best decision making.

Below is a list of the best, free, and easy online certifications and courses available today. These courses assist you in taking your business up a notch. It doesn’t matter which aspect of your company you want to grow. With these free certifications online, you can make it happen, all without breaking the bank.

Our Top Choices For Free Online Certifications

The best free online certifications available for business owners will typically be related to finance, business strategy, operations, or marketing. All of the courses below fall into one of these four buckets and we’ll detail them more below.

  • Finance

Generating profits is about more than just selling more of a product or service by attracting customers. In addition, it’s crucial to know proper financial management best practices. Financial management of a business is never an action-packed experience. However, these courses assist in nailing down finance basics.

  • Business Strategy

All successful small businesses start with clarity in their objectives and strategy. However, business strategy is quite a bit more than a one-time thing. Online courses and certifications for business owners provide strategic planning advice for all stages of your business.

  • Operations

Running a successful business requires strategic initiatives that assist in business practices. It’s important to develop internal processes, executing production in repeatable, effective manners. This is why online courses focusing on operations is crucial to business growth.

  • Marketing

It doesn’t matter how great your products or services might be. Your business isn’t going to succeed without a way to attract customers. Through business marketing courses, you can cultivate essential skills that’ll allow you to grow your brand.

Our Top Choices For Free Online Certifications

Udemy’s “Understand SWOT Analysis”

A SWOT analysis is one of the most effective investigations you can do as an entrepreneur. Short for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, a SWOT analysis is crucial for business growth. This process assists in identifying issues that impact the daily operations of your business.

If this is something that interests you, the Udemy course Understanding SWOT Analysis will prove to be a strong business course. This course is concise and is comprised of only a 30-minute training video. However, upon completion, you’ll be able to master the four-step strategies thousands of businesses utilize. These SWOT analysis help develop strategic plans, assessing organizational performance.

This free Udemy course is ideal for entrepreneurs searching for systematic methods to analyze business performance. Three main takeaways can be expected with the Understanding SWOT Analysis course:

  • Learn the art of performing SWOT analysis for businesses of all sizes.
  • Apply discoveries made in a SWOT analysis to strategic planning and goal setting.
  • Follow specific examples and case studies, serving to understand SWOT applications better.

For more information about this Udemy course, click here.

The SBA’s “Financing Options for Small Businesses”

When the US government’s Small Business Administration (SBA) develops a course, it’s best to take notice! The course Financing Options for Small Businesses represents just shy of an hour of material. However, at this time, you’ll be introduced to the world of financing available for small businesses.

This course has information on grants and small business loans, angel investing, venture capital investing, and crowdfunding. It allows you to learn the pros and cons of each potential funding source. The goal is to ensure the best financial decisions can be made for your business.

With no cost, this certification is ideal for any business owner anticipating the need for outside funding. Between investors, loans, and other funding sources, you’ll be able to make the best, most informed decisions.

Three main takeaways can be expected with the SBA’s Financing Options for Small Business course:

  • Discovering various funding options that exist for your small business, and pros and cons of each.
  • Determining the short- and long-term financing needs of your small business.
  • Identifying financial options most likely to mesh correctly with your business plan. Along with this comes access to the resources necessary to assist in pursuing these funding options.

For more information about the Financing Options for Small Businesses course, please click here.

Alison’s “Fundamentals of Accounting”

Alison’s “Fundamentals of Accounting”

Reporting and accounting software provides a fantastic insight into how businesses do financially. However, you need to know how to use them properly.

In Alison’s Fundamentals of Accounting courses, owners of small businesses learn standard terms and principles. These principles and terms are used across the entire financial sector. After completing just a few hours of video instructions, you’ll better understand financial management. You can also ask smarter questions to accountants or bookkeepers, as well as becoming a better steward of revenue.

This free course is perfect for entrepreneurs wanting to learn skills for bookkeeping management. You can also review accounting documents, analyze CPAs, or even serve as a bookkeeper yourself.

The main takeaways that can be expected from this course and certification are:

  • Learning to adjust issues in daily business accounting records with ledger and journal tools.
  • Creating your first income statement and balance sheet for your business. Understand what these reports are made to reflect.
  • Mastering common terms and accounting principles.

If you’d like more information about Alison’s Fundamentals of Accounting course, click here.

SBA’s “Savings Plans for Small Businesses”

The SBA is back again with a 30-minute online course called Savings Plans for Small Business. This course assists significantly in helping business owners understand the real importance of saving. This is done while also offering methods to discover new potentials for saving.

This offering includes pointers on saving for unexpected life happenings, retirement, and much more. Clear voice-overs accompany well-written slides, working to assist in enhancing understanding for all users. The goal is to make a government-developed course seem as personal as possible.

Savings Plans for Small Businesses is a free course, geared towards business owners who are looking to learn savings tips.

The three main takeaways from this course are:

  • Understanding the differences between long-term savings and savings for emergencies.
  • Learning the importance of savings and the reasons why savings matters.
  • Learning the actions that can be taken to save, including potential tax breaks.

Looking for more information on the SBA’s Savings Plans for Small Businesses course? Look no further.

Hubspot’s Content Marketing Certification

We’ve covered Hubspot quite a bit on our blog. Due to this, we’d be remiss not to include one of the stellar courses provided by the Hubspot Academy. Their content marketing certification is a strong starting point for those business owners new to these strategies.

With this four hour, comprehensive course, you’ll be well on the way to generating robust content strategies. Additionally, you can focus on the creation and distribution of content in systematic, informed methods. Also, you learn the importance of telling compelling stories that will attract potential customers to your business.

This free course is geared towards anyone who knows what content marketing is but needs further education. Expect to walk away with the instructions necessary to apply effective content strategies to business.

Here are the four main takeaways from Hubspot’s Content Marketing Certification:

  • Mastering strategies to repurpose and promote content to extend business reach.
  • Understanding the way content marketing works, as well as why it is a powerful weapon for your small business.
  • Learning to measure and analyze content marketing efforts. This helps you always know what is working for your business and what isn’t.
  • Planning long term content marketing strategies that properly align with brand and business goals.

For more information about the Content Marketing Certification, see more here from Hubspot.

Udemy’s “Introduction to Human Resource Management”

It doesn’t matter if you have a team of one, or a team of five hundred. There will come the time where you’ll be responsible for leading, supporting, and managing teams of employees. However, many small businesses don’t have the bandwidth to handle the responsibilities of an entire HR team. This doesn’t mean they don’t have needs that relate to human resources.

In Udemy’s Intro to Human Resource Management course, you receive a background in all things HR. From what human resources is, to strategies for retention and hiring, and beyond, nothing is out of reach.

This free course is ideal for any small business owner looking to push their company past an army of one.

Several main takeaways should be expected after completion of this course, including:

  • Learning the management of contractors and part-time labor
  • Conducting performance reviews and work management for employees.
  • Understanding the basics of human resources, HR management, and typical processes.

For more information about Udemy’s Introduction to Human Resource Management, please click here.

EdX’s “Effective Business Writing”

Small business owners may think they need to master every possible skill to achieve business success. For many, this includes both content writing and marketing messaging for your company. This process crosses between marketing and standard business operations and can be challenging to define.

If you reach this point, you might feel the need to brush up a bit on your writing skills. Maybe you also want to learn to draft memos, letters, and other business materials properly? If so, EdX’s Effective Business Writing course is perfect for you.

Provided by UC Berkeley, this free course is ideal for small business owners wanting to improve communication.

The main takeaways that can be expected after finishing the Effective Business Writing course include:

  • Mastering effective and clear business communications.
  • Refining both approaches and ideas for creating content.
  • Learning how to write useful business communications, including reports, memos, and letters.

For more information about EdX’s Effective Business Writing, please click here.

EdX’s “Effective Business Writing”

Other Free Resources For Business Owners

In addition to the courses above, the Internet has many free resources for small business owners. Here are just three incredible resources available at no cost to you:

  • The Small Business Development Center for your state

All states have a small business development center. These are precious free resources available for entrepreneurs and small business owners. One strong example is the Florida SBDC Network. These resources provide startup checklists and other crucial tools to those starting in the business world.

  • Business Startup Planners

Many entrepreneurs aspire for greatness but have issues articulating necessary concepts. If you’ve got an idea, but need help making it a reality, there’s a solution. Navarro College (yes, the same one from Cheer) provides a free business startup planner. This document, built by their Small Business Development Center, assists in putting ideas into action.

  • The SBA

The SBA is one of the best resources for small businesses. They have a business plan development area of their site that’s ideal when drafting out a business plan. These resources walk you through every step of the process.

What kinds of new skills are you interested in learning as a small business owner? It doesn’t matter if you are facing challenges, or want to expand your horizons, education matters. The digital age provides an entire network of free online certifications, courses, and resources at your fingertips. You can take advantage of these without paying an arm and a leg for tuition. 

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Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Fora Financial is a working capital provider to small business owners nationwide. In addition, the Fora Financial team provides educational information to the small business community through their blog, which covers topics such as business financing, marketing, technology, and much more. If you’d like to see a topic covered on the Fora Financial blog, or want to submit a guest post, please email us at [email protected].