DINEO TSAMELA: Online aid for entrepreneurs: help is at hand for the novice
Successful entrepreneurship is all about taking your idea and selling it to the world. While many people have brilliant ideas, not all of them can take an idea and turn it into a profitable and sustainable business venture.
Sometimes this is because the idea isn't compelling. However, some business owners fail to take their business to the next level because they don't understand the mechanics of running a business. Fortunately, we live in an age of information. Finding resources to assist you when it comes to running your business online is a breeze.
Below we cover courses you can take online that might help you get a handle on your business. Most are free but you'll find that the paid courses are cheaper than going through a formal institution and they're worth your dime.
Coursera: This free online university has several courses tailor-made for small-business owners who are looking to arm themselves with tools to better manage their business. Under its business section, entrepreneurs can find a selection of courses focused on entrepreneurship, business essentials and accounting.
Coursera also has a range of courses targeted at building leadership and communication skills as well as marketing and data analytics, which is important for business people whose businesses are online. www.coursera.org
Udemy: Most business people would rather not be stuck fighting with Excel spreadsheets, but the truth is that knowing and understanding Excel is unavoidable if you want to get more involved with financial management in your business. Udemy has a great "Beginner to Pro in Excel" course that looks at financial modelling and valuation.
You can also access project management courses and computer programming courses - helpful if you plan on running a completely digital business. Most Udemy courses are not free,but they are affordable. www.udemy.com
edX: Much like Coursera, edX, also an online university, has courses specifically for entrepreneurs in the start-up scene, or those who want to learn a bit more about business finance basics.
For those who are still trying to map out a product or service, edX offers a course called "Entrepreneurship 101: Who is your customer" which helps you take an idea and turn it into a viable product. It will also help you flesh out the strengths and weaknesses of your product, while helping you understand your target market.
There are courses on edX to assist business people who are looking to develop their own mobile apps. Apps are becoming important for those who have online stores, so getting to understand the process of building a user-friendly mobile app is incredibly helpful. www.edx.org
HP Life: The Hewlett Packard Foundation has an online portal that's dedicated to small-business owners and it's free. There are five categories: communication; startup/innovate; finance; marketing; and operations. Under finance, courses range from basic understanding of finance to sales forecasting.
Marketing looks at online and social media marketing, and the communication module covers leadership, presentations and basic business communication skills. The way money flows in a business is very important, and gaining a basic understanding of accounting and financing principles can help you keep a close eye on how you spend your money.
But finance is one part of the business. You need to learn how to market to the right audience. This can be very challenging if you don't have the budget to hire a public relations firm.
• Tsamela is the founder of Piggiebanker.com. Follow her on Twitter @Piggiebanker