Small Business, Workflows & Processes

The Best Online Learning Platforms for Small Business Owners

Learning new skills is an important part of any business journey. As a small business owner, however, finding the time to do so isn’t always easy! This makes flexible online learning platforms an incredibly valuable tool.

Regularly adding new skills to your belt is important. It not only helps grow your business, but it can increase your confidence too. No one starts off an expert, and over time you’ll find yourself having to research topics you’ve never explored before. Whether that’s general business advice or more specific resources, the following online learning platforms can help.

I’ll explore several popular online learning platforms in this post. Whatever your business needs, there is sure to be a resource to help.

Online Learning Platforms

The following platforms operate entirely online, making them accessible from wherever you’re working. I’ll break down the costs and format and give an example of one of the courses or resources they have available.

While I have not actively used these platforms myself, they are among the most popular out there. If you have any experience with them or can recommend a platform that isn’t mentioned here, I’d love to hear about it!

LinkedIn Learning

Price: One Month Free Trial then £29.99 per month or £203.88 paid annually (over 40% saving). Courses can also be purchased individually (prices vary depending on course).

Format: Very flexible – video content, audio content, offline viewing and personalised content

Content Development: Courses are taught by real-world professionals in the field

LinkedIn Learning (previously “Lynda” before it was acquired by LinkedIn) has over 22,200 courses to choose from. While it is a more expensive option, the quality of the content reflects this.

If you’re looking for an online learning platform to really get your teeth into, this could be the one. Trending topics include Project Management Skills, Spreadsheets and Data Analysis.

LinkedIn Learning offers a mix of bitesize video content and much more in-depth learning. So depending on the time you have to hand, there will be something to suit your needs.

Example: Excel Essential Training (Office 365/Microsoft 365)

Smoothly running admin is an essential part of any good business. So this Excel Essential Training is a handy course to explore! It covers formulas and functions, charts, formatting, security and sharing. In short, everything you need to know to operate a successful spreadsheet! This course is £29.99 to buy individually and is taught by spreadsheet author and trainer Dennis Taylor.

What users say: e-student.org gave LinkedIn Learning 4.4.5. “High-quality courses, an easily navigable interface, integration with LinkedIn profiles, partnerships with leading certification bodies, and a good mobile app make this an excellent option for those looking for continuous professional development.”

Skillshare

skillshare-online-learning-platform

Price: Free Trial and then £90 per year for Premium. Team option also available ($159 per person per year).

Format: Video lessons, course projects and community interaction

Content Development: Courses are taught by real-world creatives

If you like the idea of learning as part of a community, Skillshare is the online learning platform for you. It’s a more creatively led site than some of the others. Skillshare explores everything from film and creative writing to business analytics and website development.

The site has over 34,000 courses to choose from. The premium subscription unlocks all courses, removes ads and allows for offline working.

Members are encouraged to actively take part in the community. Course projects can be shared and students can engage in discussions on the board. As a result, this is a really interactive learning platform.

Example: E-Commerce Essentials: How to Start a Successful Online Business

Taught by Big Commerce‘s Tracey Wallace, this is a one-hour class breaking down the steps to launching your online business. If you’re looking to start a new business or expand your existing business into e-commerce, this is a great place to start. It covers product niches, competitive analysis and store set-up, so it sets you up with a great foundation.

What users say: Upskillwise gave Skillshare 4.5 stars. “Its premium plan is affordable and gives you access to 34,000+ classes which are geared towards creative professionals, entrepreneurs and learners. The course community is normally engaged, so interacting with other students can be a fun way to learn.”

Udemy

udemy-courses-for-business

Price: Cost specific to each course, ranging from around £29.99 to £100.

Format: Videos, Downloadable Resources and Assignments

Content Development: Courses are taught by real-world professionals

Labelled as the “leading global marketplace for learning”, Udemy is a well-known online learning platform. It boasts over 660m course enrolments and over 210k courses, therefore is seen as a powerhouse in the industry.

Categories cover (among others) IT and Software, Personal Development, Design, Marketing and Finance. In short, Udemy’s platform has something for everyone.

Example: Adobe Illustrator CC – Essentials Training Course

Looking to level up your design skills? If so, Adobe Illustrator is an extremely useful program to know your way around. This course is suitable for all levels, which is a big plus. It will leave you with 30 of your own projects in your portfolio. The course was created in collaboration with Adobe Certified Instructor Daniel Walter Scott.

What users say: Upskillwise gave Udemy 4.3 stars: “If you are wanting to learn a hobby then Udemy is definitely the right platform for you, and if you look at it from a value for money perspective then hands down YES. It’s also a good option for personal and professional development (e.g. get solid Excel knowledge).”

Coursera

Price: Free courses available, otherwise costs are specific to each course – professional certificates starting at $49 per month, right up to degrees starting at $9000. A Coursera Plus subscription is available for £46 per month, offering unlimited course access (excluding degrees and MasterTrack Certificates.

Format: Videos, Downloadable Resources and Assignments

Content Development: Courses are taught by real-world professionals

If you’re looking to earn a professional certificate with your online learning, Coursera could be the platform for you. With almost 7,000 courses to choose from, from short courses to full degree programmes, there really is something for everyone.

The site offers courses across a wide range of topics, including Business, Personal Development and IT. The courses are taught by real professors, and Coursera works with over 300 leading universities and businesses including Stanford University and Google.

Example: Foundations of Project Management (with Google)

This four-module course is perfect for anyone looking to enhance their project management skills. It takes approximately 25 hours, and with a flexible schedule, you can learn at your own pace.

The course explores the project management life cycle, methodologies and organisational structure, giving you confidence in your management capabilities. After successfully completing 15 quizzes you’ll earn a shareable certificate to mark the completion of the course.

What users say: Upskillwise rated Coursera an impressive 4.8 stars. “If you want to further your academic knowledge by studying for a degree or Master, or develop your career opportunities by studying on a specialization program, then Coursera is definitely the right e-learning platform for you.”

Future Learn

future-learn-business-skills-development

Price: Free version with limited access. Unlimited membership for £249.99 per year. A monthly subscription is also available for £35.99 per month. You can also buy individual courses.

Format: Video lectures, audio content, readings and (in some cases) assignments.

Content Development: Courses are taught by experts from leading Universities and organisations.

Future Learn works in an interesting way in terms of signing up. Again it is a 100% online learning platform, but it has three options for studying:

future-learn
Credit: Using Future Learn

This flexible approach to learning makes Future Learn a great option whatever your schedule is. The course duration generally ranges from 6-10 weeks, but there are some shorter courses at 2-3 weeks.

They also cover a great range of topics. For example, Business, Technology and Media. The platform includes micro-credentials and online degrees, in addition to the short courses you can explore.

In addition, Future Learn’s discussion boards allow you to follow other learners and learn together. Depending on your style, this could be just what you need.

Example: Wellbeing and Resilience at Work

Learning for your business isn’t just about practical skills. Running a small business is rewarding but hard work! Therefore, learning how to be resilient and manage stress is important too. This course was created by the University of Leeds and the Institute of Coding. It is part of their “Thriving in the Digital Workplace” program. An excellent program, therefore, for life at the moment.

What users say: e-student.org gave Future Learn 4.5 Stars. “Most of all, I was very impressed by the peer-to-peer interaction, student forums and discussion boards on FutureLearn. No other MOOC site I’ve used has utilised student discussions as effectively.”

Moz and Moz Academy

Price: Free Content and paid courses (ranging from $49 to $595)

Format: Articles, Video lessons and follow-up quizzes

Content Development: Courses are created by SEO pro site Moz

Bewildered by SEO? You’re not alone. Because of this, SEO experts Moz launched the Moz Academy. Through their courses, you can learn to understand at a basic, novice or intermediate level. They also have fantastic free content to read and learn through on their main site.

Their courses cover backlink building, keyword research and SEO fundamentals. They also have in-depth courses if you want to go pro and offer SEO services to clients in the future.

As an online learning platform, this is much more specific to one area than the others. But with more and more businesses moving online, SEO is a vital skill!

Example: Backlink Basics

Learn how to backlink like a pro with this short course. It explores the relevance of links, common mistakes and schemes, and how to measure progress. If you’re looking to give your website a boost in terms of rankings, this could be really useful.

What users say: ReliableSoft reviewed Moz’s SEO”This is the best SEO certification for non-SEO professionals. It’s only 6 hours long and covers basic and advanced SEO concepts.

YouTube

youtube-learning
Photo by Reshetnikov_art via Canva Pro

Price: Free

Format: Video

Content Development: Videos can be created by anyone

Looking to learn about just about anything? YouTube has you covered. Unlike the other online learning platforms, where tutors are hired or go through a sign-up process, anyone can launch a YouTube channel. However, for quick pieces of advice, it can be an excellent resource.

Keep in mind that because of the format of YouTube, it’s useful to do some reading on the creator. As said, anyone can create a YouTube video and upload it, so check that the source seems to be reliable. Ideally, they’ll have a website, social media presence or portfolio backing them up.

That said, just because YouTube videos themselves aren’t accredited, it doesn’t mean the creator isn’t an expert! Envato Tuts, for example, has a channel covering tools and sites including Photoshop and WordPress. They have accredited Adobe trainers making video content for their channel.

The amazing thing about YouTube is that whatever you search for, you’re likely to find a wide range of free videos. Specific photo editing hacks, Instagram tips, admin advice, it’s all there. Because of the scale of YouTube’s platform, it’s unlikely you’ll come up short. Browse their endless channels and find the creator whose style best works for you. As online learning platforms go, it’s pretty great.

Example: Photoshop for Beginners – Free Course

Dan Scott is a certified Adobe Instructor, making him the perfect tutor for this basics of Photoshop video. It covers everything from layers, colour and tone, to resizing, text and retouching. It’s very detailed at 3 hours long! This is an incredible amount of training to get for free and the stats reflect that – it has racked up over 14 million views in its three years! So if you’re looking to up your photo quality for your website and social media, check this out.


KEEP READING:

To read more about this topic, have a look at these:
My Favourite Small Business and Marketing Tools
Why You Should Work on Your Small Business – Not Just in it
How to Save Time and Automate Your Workflows
How to Access Small Business Mentoring In Scotland

Denise Strohsahl brand and marketing consultant for small businesses

Hello, I’m Denise from sandstonecastles, a brand & marketing consultancy based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

I help small business owners like yourself to find the right marketing that’s in line with your brand and values.