As a busy business owner, I know what it’s like to have precious few hours for investing in yourself.
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But the results are worth the effort. I’ve spent hours in courses learning about the fundamentals of digital marketing, analytics, and how to pitch to prospective clients. The revenue gains far outweigh the cost.
Don’t have time for yourself? Fair enough—invest in training for your staff!
According to the Harvard Business Review, US companies spent more than $90 billion on training and development in 2017. It increases employee retention, boosts employee engagement, and produces all sorts of competitive benefits.
And you don’t have to send your team out for weeks of external training to reap these rewards. Online courses provide a convenient alternative:
- They’re often cheaper than in-person programs
- They can be completed at your employees’ own pace
- You can target specific weak spots in each of your employees
That last point is a crucial one. Typically, employees don’t have an overall lack of skill—they just have a few weak spots. Online learning lets you target those areas specifically.
That’s why we’ve gathered some of the best online courses in specific areas, like conflict resolution and critical thinking skills.
Take a look:
1. Google’s Fundamentals of Digital Marketing
Digital marketing lives and dies on one thing: Google.
Whether we like it or not, Google is the center of getting your business seen and heard. But the good news is the company runs its own training courses on how to market your business online. And they extend far beyond Google products.
Google’s Fundamentals of Digital Marketing—along with 10 other related courses—will help your team master digital marketing, from getting your business online to understanding customer needs and behaviours, customer segmentation, and more.
They’ll learn what makes good solid ad copy, what digital campaigns should look like, search engine basics, and so on.
Oh and it’s free, too!
Time commitment: 40 hours, self-paced
2. Harvard University’s Management Essentials
Good bosses make all the difference. Plenty of studies, like this one from Gallup, show that people leave companies mostly due to bad experiences with managers.
There are plenty of great courses for learning how to be a manager, but Harvard’s Management Essentials can’t steer you wrong. Too many managers take a siloed view to working with others. Harvard’s course gives students a much broader perspective, teaching students to recognize how change is actually made through process.
This one requires a bit of an investment, but hey, it can be worth it if it saves you thousands on turnover costs.
Time commitment: 8 weeks, 5–7 hours per week
3. Udemy’s Productivity and Time Management for the Overwhelmed
I often feel as though I have 20 things that I could be doing for my business at any one time, and they all have equal priority. Getting to them all requires a significant amount of time management—but also an ability to focus on the work at hand and not get distracted.
Getting a team to understand time management and productivity has exponentially positive results. The more everyone realizes how important time is, the more everyone optimizes the work and spreads it around.
Udemy’s course, Productivity and Time Management for the Overwhelmed, is the perfect antidote for chronic multitasking.
This course provides time management tools, but also focuses on the psychology behind productivity. How can you know yourself and your mental states well enough to plan around them? How can you coordinate tasks according to your energy levels?
Time commitment: 2 hours
4. Coursera’s Conflict Resolution Skills
Particularly in startups, conflict tends to rear its ugly head at the worst times. It’s easier to ignore someone in a larger organization. When there are only a few of you? Conflicts need to be nipped in the bud.
Coursera’s Conflict Resolution Skills is a short, targeted piece of training that focuses on active listening skills, key communication problems, and how to make plans that result in mutually beneficial outcomes.
The more time your team spends arguing efficiently, instead of just bickering, the more likely you’ll be to succeed in reaching your business goals.
Time commitment: 7 hours
5. Lynda’s Critical Thinking
It’s the tiny details that can make or break your success as a business owner—like understanding whether a business deal will actually benefit or harm your overall trajectory. It’s analyzing and critiquing marketing deals against your business goals, or understanding why a problem started in the first place.
Critical thinking involves understanding the root causes of issues, then being able to put actions into place that prevent those problems from happening again. Lynda’s Critical Thinking course is a great start to building an intellectually rigorous team.
Cost: Free with a Lynda subscription (free month trial, $33 per month)
Time commitment: 1 hour
6. Harvard University’s Introduction to Computer Science
Tim Cook said it best when asked why everyone should learn to code:
“It’s the language that everyone needs, and not just for the computer scientists. It’s for all of us.”
There are plenty of coding courses online, but none as comprehensive as Harvard’s CS50. This is a decades-old course, but it’s continually updated. It provides a full, comprehensive overview of computer science—not just its history, but also its applications today.
Think your team doesn’t need to know how to code? It’s true that not everyone needs to be a specialist. But the more your team knows how to do, the more they can help out when things go wrong. The more your developers can ask for help. And the more productive they can be without waiting around for developers to fix everything.
The course features video lectures and tasks for you to complete on your own. It’s intensive. It’ll require a lot of brain power, especially if you’re not used to coding.
If you have design or technical staff, getting them on this course could seriously pay off. They could help you solve problems instead of hiring contractors to do so, which will save you money in the long run.
The best part? The course is free.
Time commitment: 11 weeks, 10-20 hours per week (self-paced)
Never leave training by the wayside. Even when running a business gets tough, you need to invest in your team’s development.
Not only will you attract eager candidates who want to learn and contribute with their new skills, but you’ll create a culture of constant learning. And no success ever came from staying still.