5 Online Courses for Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners

October 22, 2020 | lfeesey

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Starting a business requires a lot of hard work. Not everything will work out as planned or on time. Setbacks are inevitable, and resilience is key. To help set you up for success, we have five online course recommendations. All of these courses are free with your library card, and you can take them at any time.

Female small business owner
Small business owner by UN Women Gallery. Used on a CC license.


Here are some of the common steps to take when thinking about starting your own business:

  • Look for gaps in the products and services available in your area, such as those for niche markets
  • Determine what sort of product or service you're interested in
  • Research the market for your product or service, consider who your customers might be
  • Research your competitors
  • Conduct a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats)
  • Appraise your startup costs and determine sources of capital
  • Write a business plan
  • Create a marketing and communications plan to reach your potential customers



Your plans may go through many iterations. It's good to get started by evaluating and considering as many possibilities as you can. So these courses are a great place to start!

Business planning
Image by plant0047. Used on a CC license.

The Five Courses

You will need to log in with your library card to access these courses. Each one is about an hour long.


What Entrepreneurs Need to Know Before They Start

HSTalks (30 min) 

This talk covers finding and filling a market void. Learn about taking advance of opportunity, and how to grow a business in a niche market.


Creating a Business Plan 

Lynda.com (1hr 12 min) 

Follow along with this course to create your business plan. Receive guidance on thinking through your sales strategy, day-to-day operations, staffing and financial forecasting. A sample business plan is provided.


Finance Essentials for Small Business 

Lynda.com (51 min) 

Learn about the five reasons so many small businesses fail. Learn strong business management strategies, such as tracking your accounting, managing your operating cycle and forecasting cash flow.


Small Business Marketing 

Lynda.com (1 hr)

Learn how to identify your target market, where to find them and get their attention. You will plan an initial social media campaign and measure its effectiveness. Includes guidance on whether you need professional assistance or can do it alone.


How to Scale Your Small Business: The 3 Fundamental Rules for a Business to Scale to Profit

O’Reilly for Public Libraries (1 hr 16 min)  

There are three fundamental laws of scale. Each must be addressed in order for a business to scale to profit. You will learn how to take a single-person, micro business and scale the reach and profitability of the business.


Good luck and keep learning!