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Develop Your Own Expertise

Develop Your Own Expertise–it’s less difficult than you think & can be free!

Develop your own business expertise! Many of the entrepreneurs that I advise imagine that they have to go buy expertise, when if they have the attributes of an entrepreneur, they probably have the capacity to go the DIY route–attending to their own simple legal matters, bookkeeping and technology.

The Internet is a goldmine of free and inexpensive resources for learning how to do-it-yourself. I rate lifelong learning as one of the most important attributes of an entrepreneur. A lot of it is learning by doing, of course. Sometimes, though, you will need to acquire knowledge and expertise.

One example of what’s available is the Kahn Academy. For instance Kahn has a course on raising money for your startup.

A very comprehensive resource is Online Colleges. Take a look, since all the offerings are from accredited colleges. Of course, they are not all free, but many are, and you do not necessarily have to aim at a qualification, but you can simply get skilled in the field you want to master.


Another is udemy. At udemy there’s a free course called Startup & Go–first steps to building a technology company. At the simplest level, you can do Steve Blank’s free course on An Entrepreneur’s Checklist. OpenHatch is a non-profit dedicated to matching prospective free software contributors with communities, tools, and education. If you want to check out all the startup courses, you will find them listed here.

Free courses from big universities

EdX is a not-for-profit enterprise of its founding partners Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that features learning designed specifically for interactive study via the web. Though entrepreneurship articles are few right now, Harvard Business School scholarly articles are available at the DASH project.

There are free economics courses from the world’s leading universities that you can download (audio & video) straight to your computer or mp3 player at Open Culture. Coursera–a social entrepreneurship company that partners with the top universities in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free–also offers many business and management courses. Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies, for example is a six-week course.

MIT Open Courseware is free and the selection of undergraduate and graduate courses available from the Sloan School of Management is vast. Of course you don’t earn a degree, but that doesn’t bother most entrepreneurs.

Knowledge@Wharton is run by the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania and is a database that offers free access to a huge data based of articles and other materials. Not to be missed. It’s not dissimilar to Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge, that is a forum for innovation in business practice, offering readers a first look at cutting-edge thinking from HBS faculty, and the opportunity to both influence and use these concepts before they enter mainstream management practice.

A wide spread of offerings in business

At Education Insider you’ll find a list of 10 Places to Get a Free Business Education Online. One resource that I think will grow fast is iTunes U. You can already find many business courses from powerhouses like Oxford, MIT and Yale Universities.

The My Own Business, Inc. (MOBI) coursework is designed to help owners of small and medium-sized businesses identify, understand and overcome the challenges they will face on a daily basis. This non-profit offers courses in starting and growing your business–for free.

YouTube EDU has short lessons from top teachers around the world, full courses from the world’s leading universities, professional development material from fellow educators, and inspiring videos from global thought leaders.

The Frugal Entrepreneur lists a collection of 30+ resources offering free online business courses, seminars, and training. These resources come from various places including: government programs, non-profits, educational institutions and organizations, reference sites, and some commercial sites. Adam Gottlieb chose these resources for the depth, usefulness, and overall quality of the information and instruction provided.

You can take a class with Steve Blank at udacity, called How to Build a Startup. You learn by solving challenging problems and pursuing udacious projects with world-renowned university instructors (not by watching long, boring lectures). There will be more and more courses, but one that may appeal is How to Build a Blog.

Free ebooks

A good place to start is the free library of business and management books at Google. A good source is the list of books for business professionals at Book Boon. The Young Entrepreneur has ’38 Free Business E-books to Help You Succeed.’ There’s a good list at Suite101 is a collaborative publishing community that’s been active on the web since 1997.

What I suggest is that if there is something you particularly want to learn type the subject into a search engine and add ‘free guide’ to the search. You will get some interesting results. For example, when I type, ‘understanding income statements free guide’ I get an excellent pdf (a format that some ebooks use) from the National Center for Business Journalism on ‘understanding financial statements’. I also got ’All About Financial Management in Nonprofits’ from the Free Management Library, that provides free, easy-to-access, online articles to develop yourself, other individuals, groups and organizations (whether the organization is for-profit or nonprofit).

Better than ebooks

QuickMBA: Better than many ebooks is the QuickMBA, that is an online knowledge resource for business administration. It is operated by the Internet Center for Management and Business Administration. QuickMBA requires no registration so you can easily and frequently consult its many topics. The Quick MBA covers accounting, business law, economics, entrepreneurship, finance, management, marketing, operations, statistics and strategy.

Value Based Management: This too, is a rich seam, and I suggest that my own MBA students should mine it. Value Based Management is a management portal specifically aimed at the information needs of senior executives with an interest in value creation, managing for value and valuation. It provides learning materials explaining management methods, models and theories on strategy, performance, finance, valuation, change, corporate governance, communication, marketing, leadership and responsibility with links to additional resources in the field.

Better still–even at a small price

“21 Critical Lessons for Entrepreneurs” offers key insights to starting and succeeding with your own business. The 21 Lessons are presented on a course, resented by Jason Nazar, CEO of Docstoc. Each segment is only a few minutes long and can be had for less than $50. Go to Udemy and find this one. Another offering is “Entrepreneurship: The Startup Guide for Female Founders”

If you search using ‘startup‘, you will find many others including very many that are free. Udemy has hundreds of courses on many topics by excellent instructors. Some courses may give you insights, but with a marketing pitch by the instructor thrown in. Don’t scoff at these free offerings, since they often have some real expertise available for free.

Udemy is a community platform that makes it easy for anyone to build an online course. Instructors can use video, PowerPoint, PDFs, audio, zip files and live classes to quickly build a course and share their expertise with anyone in the world with an internet connection. Students can take courses across a great breadth of categories, including not only business & entrepreneurship, but also, the arts, health & fitness, language, music, technology, games, and academic subjects.

PLEASE NOTE: There is tons of useful stuff on Startup Owl, a site that’s been going for a dozen years. So keep browsing, but know that the founder, Will, now devotes most of his time and energy to his new website that you should definitely visit:

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