15 of the Best and Most Unusual Online Courses for Entrepreneurs
Real world experience is the worldâs best teacher, but there is a wealth of knowledge online to help teach ourselves what we donât have the opportunity to learn from a mentor or navigating life itself.
With the help of online courses, we can apply some structured guidance to how we approach our interpersonal interactions, entrepreneurial pursuits and even the way we think. These hyper-focused, organized lesson plans can help us hit refresh and streamline our paths to success..The following list of online courses covers a range of subjects, some but not all of which have a direct tie to running a business. From AI to VR to happiness to time management, entrepreneurs need to master a wide range of skills.
Most of the courses below come at a cost (often low), though some offer free temporary access to videos and other materials. Read on for an overview of 15 of the best courses out there for entrepreneurs who are lifelong learners.
1. Learning How to Learn
The popular Coursera class âLearning How to Learnâ gives a glimpse into the learning styles and tricks that artists, musicians, writers, mathematicians, scientists, athletes and other experts swear by.
The course, which takes 12 to 16 hours to complete, dives into brain science to explain to students whatâs really going on when theyâre trying to retain new information, focusing on two different learning âmodes.â It also details how the human brain âchunksâ information, storing it in a way that will make it easier to retain later. Plus, it dispels common misconceptions people have about how they learn best.
Overall, the course is designed to help anyone, at any level, studying any subject, change their approach and be more successful learners. Even if you think youâve mastered a subject, you may have more to learn about how to apply that knowledge, which this course can also help with.
2. Intro to Artificial Intelligence
Whether or not you already work directly with AI in your job or company, chances are you interact with it indirectly in your personal and professional life. For a crash course on AI and its applications, head to Udacity for Intro to Artificial Intelligence.
Over a four-month span, students learn the basics of machine learning, as well as how statistics, logic and planning come into play with AI. From there, they move onto the applications lesson segment of the course, which provides insights into image processing, natural language and processing robotics.
This online learning program is based off a course offered at Stanford University, taught by Sebastian Thrun, co-founder of Udacity, CEO of the Kitty Hawk Corporation and founder of Googleâs self-driving car project, and Peter Norvig, director of research at Google. There is a prerequisite for the course, however: a background in probability theory and linear algebra.
Instead of letting robots take over the world, why not learn how they work and how we can control them? There are a variety of online courses that will teach you the basics of robotics, such as how to build them and their history, anatomy and more. FutureLearnâs Begin Robotics explores the history, anatomy and intelligence of robots.
3. Content Marketing Essentials
Online learning platform Udacity offers a whole program devoted to digital marketing, and Content Marketing Essentials is one of its components. The creator of the course, marketing software company Hubspot, has developed the syllabus to help students plan a content marketing strategy and measure its reach and effectiveness.
The first lesson segment involves planning content to best communicate a marketing message. Next, the program dives into content creation through storytelling, curation and other techniques, followed by distribution, promotion and tracking.
In addition to creating and deploying the content, this crash course also provides tips for designing the user experience (UX) of a website where content lives, to make it resonate more with readers. Lastly, the course provides real-world examples of careers in content marketing and gives prospective hires and hiring managers alike a sense of what makes a successful job candidate in the field.
4. Google IT Support Professional Certificate Specialization
If youâre running a small operation with a team of folks who each wear a lot of hats, the Google IT Support Professional Certificate Specialization might be an effective way to acquire tech support skills for your company.
Google and Coursera announced their partnership on the program earlier this year, initially offering scholarships to cover costs of those interested in preparing for entry-level IT work. Since then, theyâve opened the five-course program to the public and itâs applicable to all aspiring in-person and remote IT professionals, not just those looking for a foot in the door at Google.
The certificate program, which takes about eight months to complete at eight to 10 hours a week, involves âvideo lectures, quizzes and hand-on labs and widgets.â Students learn the fundamentals of IT troubleshooting and customer service, operating systems, system administration security and more.
5. The Complete Crowdfunding Course for Kickstarter & Indiegogo
Udemy, another online learning marketplace, hosts a vast range of courses for entrepreneurs at all experience levels. But for those seeking funding to get a product off the ground, the Complete Crowdfunding Course is a great place to start.
The four-hour course provides a âstep-by-step approach to growth hack your crowdfunding campaign,â from the lead-up to the campaign launch to the follow-through after it ends. It helps students decide whether a crowdfunding campaign is right for them, shares tips for the market research and pre-sell process, helps you track your campaign with analytics tools and more. It also shares valuable insights into the Kickstarter and Indiegogo algorithms.
As one user points out in a testimonial on the landing page for the course, the information provided âcould be useful not only while making and/or preparing to make your own crowdfunding campaign but while building any kind of audience in general.â
6. How to Come Up With Killer Business Ideas: Complete Workshop
If youâve been slogging away at a job that doesnât fuel your passion, and you dream of starting a side hustle or quitting to try entrepreneurship, the first thing you need is a great idea. If you have a concept in mind and want help shaping it into a viable business, start with this workshop on How to Come Up With Killer Business Ideas.
In this seven-hour course, instructor, experienced VC and Sprintkick founder Evan Kimbrell reassures students that some of todayâs most successful businesses âstarted with an idea that was terrible,â and that their founders experienced âfailure, ridicule and frustration.â
Getting from âterribleâ idea to wildly successful business requires a set of skills, which Kimbrell outlines. These include assessing the marketability of an idea, spotting market inefficiencies and implementing cutting-edge business models. The course covers goal-setting, testing and more and is a fit for aspiring entrepreneurs or âveteran entrepreneurs who want to master the skill of idea generation,â according to its description.
7. Productivity and Time Management for the Overwhelmed
It might seem counterintuitive to think about carving out time for a course titled Productivity and Time Management for the Overwhelmed when youâre already feeling overbooked, but consider it an investment.
It only takes two hours to complete, and its description acknowledges how busy its prospective students are with the warning: âschedule time to take the course with your full attention.â
The course diagnoses inefficiencies in how students manage their time and helps them construct a plan to boost productivity. It helps anyone whoâs overwhelmed take control of both their mindset and their energy level, as well as develop new daily habits and strategies that jibe with their personality. It doesnât just encourage learners to stop procrastinating, but it examines why they may be doing so by addressing âsilent killersâ of productivity, from âwaiting for things to be perfectâ to âthe myth of multitasking.â
As one student writes in a testimonial, the course is âA good reminder of things you probably already know and a good reminder that knowing is not the same as practicing.â
8. Why Ethics Matter: Ethical Research
This six-hour ethics course on digital education platform FutureLearn can help any entrepreneur seeking to reduce bias in their work. If you or one of your employees is conducting research, perhaps trying to tap into a new market or talent pool, this course will challenge your approach and help you yield fair results.
First, it asks students to reflect on their personal morals, shaped by their life experiences. Then, it touches on historical events that have played a role in establishing what constitutes ethical conduct in todayâs world. It even presents case studies that show ethical research in action.
When the course is complete, students will have a foundation in how to build an ethical framework for research, applying key principles of common codes of ethics in their own research pursuits. This course is available free of charge for up to four weeks of access.
9. Critical Thinking
Entrepreneurs are some of the best problem-solvers out there, but everyone has room to brush up on the critical thinking skills necessary to fulfil societal needs and improve efficiency.
Clocking in at just one hour and six minutes, the Critical Thinking course on Lynda.com can benefit anyone. It reminds students that the most effective thinkers are those who make conclusions for themselves, rather than leaning on others. Critical thinking requires self-reflection and information synthesis, and this course shares strategies for how to get to the root cause of a problem, define it, break it down into smaller increments, ask the right questions, including the âfive whysâ and âseven so-whatsâ and more.
The course also incorporates tools for learners who want to pass on what theyâve learned to others, such as members of a team, and help them become better critical thinkers as well.
10. Body Language for Entrepreneurs
Whether youâre leading a meeting, negotiating with partners or making a media appearance, itâs crucial that you master Body Language for Entrepreneurs.
This course teaches ânonverbal communication to increase your income and influence as a business ownerâ in a variety of scenarios including networking, public speaking and delivering an elevator pitch, in order to nail not just what you say, but how you say it. On the flip side, students can apply the strategies they learn from this course to get a better read on prospective hires, potential clients and others.
As the course description points out, â93 percent of our communication is nonverbal,â and itâs visible in your online presence, during your interactions with customers, as you connect with colleagues and in just about every other professional scenario involving another human being.
11. Intro to Virtual Reality
Like artificial intelligence, virtual reality is a fast-emerging technology with a range of business applications, many of which have yet to be realized. At Entrepreneur, weâve profiled businesses that employ VR to assist with everything from employee training to store design.
In partnership with Googleâs VR division, Udacity offers a free, two-week Intro to Virtual Reality course that outlines the basics of the technology. It covers optics, displays, stereopsis, tracking and major hardware platforms, and it walks each student through the creation and deployment of their own VR application using the Unity development platform.
From the history of VR to the importance of creating a comfortable experience as one that achieves âpresenceâ for the user the lessons in this comprehensive course will make VR less abstract to anyone looking to learn more about the buzzy medium.
12. The Science of Well-Being
The Science of Well-Being is a 15-hour course that defines what makes people happy and how they can achieve happiness for themselves. It was created by Laurie Santos, a professor of psychology and cognitive science at Yale University who teaches âPsychology and the Good Life,â the schoolâs most popular course, according to The New York Times.
With a foundation in psychological research, the 15-hour course explores common misconceptions about happiness, how biases influence well-being and how to overcome them, and ways in which re-evaluating oneâs expectations can help.
From there, the course describes how students can build new habits to increase their happiness. Santos uses the term ârewirementâ for this process of shifting oneâs mindset and harnessing the environment and support network around them to improve their well-being. Over four weeks, she guides students through implementing a new wellness strategy as the final assignment for the course.
13. Blockchain for Business: The New Industrial Revolution
Confused about what blockchain is, let alone how it might apply to your business? Blockchain for Business: The New Industrial Revolution may be for you.
Over five and half hours, this course breaks down how blockchain technology works and todayâs conception of the potential impact it could have on society. By the end of the course, youâll have a firmer sense of what âminingâ is, what âdecentralizationâ truly means and how blockchain is shaping the future of everything from currency to contacts really any kind of transaction or exchange.
It provides some examples of how large corporations including UBS, Allianz, London Stock Exchange, IBM and Kodak in a range of industries from finance to retail to logistics are already using blockchain to improve security and efficiency, as well as what developments are on the horizon and what the challenges the tech will face in scaling.
14. Introduction to GDPR: General Data Protection Regulation
Has Facebookâs data privacy reckoning over the course of the spring gotten you concerned about how youâre handling your customersâ information? Did all of the privacy emails ahead of the GDPR deadline make you wonder whether your company should have sent one?
This six-hour course addresses the changes under Europeâs General Data Protection Regulation, which went into effect on May 25. Itâs a tool for any business leader who aims to learn âhow to handle data in the digital economy safely, securely and respectfully,â according to its description.
Data is the byproduct of individualsâ interactions with companies, and although GDPR only applies to businesses with European users, itâs a best-practice framework for any company that wants to be responsible with personal data. The course walks learners through the history of data regulations, the aspects companies need to navigate to comply with the law and what it looks like in practice for any company strengthening data protection.
15. Managing in Difficult Times
When the going gets tough, leaders have to step up. And the way managers comports themselves during those times is the true test of their leadership ability. The hour-long course Managing in Difficult Times provides an overview of how to weather any obstacle or lull, despite low morale.
For one, preparedness is key. This course explains why foreseeing and accounting for tough times is crucial, despite a leaderâs need to balance this instinct with optimism. Then, when those difficult times inevitably come, itâs up to the leader to react in a way that keeps the team on track, productive and willing to carry on.
From empathy, seeing things through an employee or team memberâs eyes, to cost-cutting to seizing opportunity even when things seem bleak, this course is designed to make leaders more self-aware and ready to take responsibility for and overcome challenges.