Many entrepreneurs, especially those of us on the younger side, tend to think starting and running our own business is just common sense. As long as we’ve got the skills we need NOW, we don’t have to keep educating ourselves. This is one of the many (avoidable) reasons entrepreneurs fail. (I wrote about this before, remember?!) We need to strive to learn. Consistently, with vigor. Every. Single. Day.
First, my story…
I had to learn this the hard way. At the age of 19, I decided to pursue my first business venture. I wanted to be a successful freelancer, working on my terms and on my time. I thought; I’m a decent writer, I work well with people, I have experience in sales, administrative and virtual assistance, and even a little bit of marketing! Needless to say, this didn’t go as planned. I struggled to land any jobs or gain clients as a ‘creative entrepreneur’. No matter how great my cover letter or resume looked, I just wasn’t able to get anything consistent.
Luckily for me, I networked a lot. And I was able to find out about a few really great ways to keep educating and informing myself. Some ways were free, and some weren’t. But I couldn’t put a price on the skills I gained through educating myself this way, and how much it taught me about how to really run a business, entrepreneurship, and most of all, about myself.
Now, I attended college. And I learned a lot. But college is expensive and not everyone has the ability to gain higher education opportunities… (hello, $28,000 in student loans!) So I wanted to share some ways to gain skills and knowledge relevant to you, and what you need as an entrepreneur, all from the comfort of home.
So, where do you start?
First and foremost, is TedTalks and used Coursera. These two programs have been, and continue to be absolutely indispensable to me.
Ted & TedX
TedTalks are completely free videos that you can find on YouTube or on the Ted website, on a huge range of topics, and by various experts in those fields. There are numerous lectures, seminars and demonstrations in almost any field, including hundreds specifically for the entrepreneur and small business owner. I have been known to spend hours on TedTalk and TedX videos, but as I said before, its been totally indispensable.
Coursera is an online program that provides online courses through some of the world’s top universities including Stanford, Columbia, and Harvard, among many others. The courses are cheap, usually about $49 and some offer certificates after you complete it. The best part? They offer financial aid to potential students who cannot cover the tuition. Its free to apply and the approval time is very fast. This is an opportunity that every entrepreneur needs to look into.
Shaw Academy is an amazing program actually based out of Dublin, Ireland! They offer live courses for really important skills relevant to any part of the business world; from creative skills like photography, to digital marketing, social media and even financial education. They also offer some courses and programs for FREE (which I will be sharing with you in a post here, soon!) And free education is always good.
Experfy is another great program by The Harvard Innovation Lab. If that doesn’t make you want to check it out, maybe this will; Experfy has over 30,000 experts in all sort of industries, from analytics and life sciences, to market research, artificial intelligence and so much more. They offer courses, certifications and even consultations with experts. Although it is a paid program, some courses start as low as $29.99 and come with the perk of being self-paced and completely online.
I took their Adobe Photoshop CC course, which was a beginner-to-advanced course, and it taught me a lot more than graphics communications classes in college, and at a way better price. So, if you’ve got some spare change, definitely invest in Experfy’s amazing professional courses.
We are not born with the knowledge to succeed in every aspect of our lives, especially when it comes to professional skills. This is something we need to work toward everyday, but in this day and age, the possibilities and opportunities to build and attain these skills are innumerable.
So, the best advice I can give you overall? Just educate yourself any way you can. Whether that’s through YouTube videos, books, online articles, audiobooks or websites dedicated to certain topics, just keep doing it. Once we stop educating ourselves, we stop trying to achieve and maintain success. As an entrepreneur, and as a human being in general, you must strive to gain knowledge in any and every way possible. This is the road to success, happiness, and fulfillment.