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4 Places to Find Business Courses for Free (or Almost-Free)

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Launching and/or running a small business requires a variety of skills — everything from sales and marketing to basic accounting and finance. If you want to learn a new business skill but lack the time or money to head back to school full-time, here’s a quick overview of a few places entrepreneurs can find free or inexpensive business courses.

Public Libraries

If you’re looking for a free local resource providing small business basics, check out your local library for weekly workshops and seminars.

For small business owners in the Toronto area, the Toronto Public Library system offers a variety of free one-and-a-half hour small business workshops at branches throughout the GTA. Attendees can learn how to get started with business networking, how to raise money for a startup, and the basics of social media for business.

The Calgary Public Library offers Small Business Tuesdays one evening each month during the fall. Stop by for help from librarians on how to best use the library’s free research tools to help launch or grow your business. And members of the Ottawa Public Library system can access the Guide to Starting a Small Business for free online.

Banks

If you only have small blocks of time to dedicate to business learning, TD Bank’s free online Small Business Workshops offer a quick video and worksheet for each topic. Watch videos on starting a business, managing finances, and marketing your business over lunch or while you grab a coffee. 

Another option if you don’t have time to dedicate to a multi-week course is to attend one of the events, talks, or workshops held during Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) Small Business Week 2016, running October 16 - 22. Events are held across the country and cover a range of topics for Canadian small business owners.

Government Small Business Workshops

The federal government offers free webinars, online events, and live small business workshops in major cities across Canada. Learn what’s available in your region by visiting Canada Business Network for the calendar of events for your province.

Check out your home province’s websites as well. At Alberta’s Businesslink.ca you can sign up for free live webinars and training on topics like getting to know your market and industry and how to sell to the Alberta government. They also offer live BizChat webinars with business experts ranging from social media and marketing to business legal issues.

University and College Courses

Prefer to learn while you’re on the go — maybe on your way to your shop or office, or even while running on the treadmill? If so, brush up your business skills by listening to a free podcast via iTunes. This international list of 150 Free Online Business Courses includes many free online business audio courses covering topics such as entrepreneurship, finance, and technology, and from colleges and universities such as Ohio State, Oxford, and MIT. In fact, MIT offers MIT Opencourseware in which previous and currently offered course material is made available for free to the public via the Internet. This includes business courses such as Entrepreneurial Sales and New Enterprises/Startups.

Another option is to sign up for one or both of the free online business courses offered by the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University. The first, Starting a Business, is for people considering making the jump to entrepreneurship while Business Expansion helps fledgling business owners take control of finances and grow their business in the early days.

Now if you’re willing to cough up a few dollars (just a few) you may want to investigate the Wharton School of Business’ core MBA courses available through Coursera for just $119 per course. Sample titles include Business Foundations Specialization, Intro to Marketing, and Intro to Financial Accounting.

So if you’re short on time and/or money, take advantage of these inexpensive small business learning options. Workshops, online courses, and seminars on all sorts of business topics may be just around the corner in your neighborhood — or even as close as your laptop.