If you aren’t able to pursue a business degree or take time to study with a business guru, don’t worry. You can effectively study all facets of the business world with resources you probably already have, from the Internet to a local library, to the people you know. The budget-conscious are in luck, as well, since many learning materials, both online and off, are free.
The Modern World of Learning: MOOCs
Massive open online courses, or MOOCs, are courses that offer learning via an online learning platform, usually for free and to large numbers of participants. There are few to no prerequisites and many MOOCs offer verified certificates for a minimal fee, which can bolster your resume. Because corporations have begun to adopt this learning model, self-taught business students are prepared to enter the ever-evolving business sphere. Popular MOOC providers include Coursera, Udemy, EdX, Udacity and Canvas; business courses cover topics that include business strategy basics, international business and business development.
Hit the Books
Books offer business students the opportunity to learn from some of the greatest business minds. While not everyone has the connections to learn from Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, anyone can pick up his biography and gain insight into his business strategies. Reading business books can also help learners avoid costly real-world mistakes. Seek out autobiographies and biographies of successful entrepreneurs, business theory textbooks, how-to guides and business magazines such as Forbes. Those who have little time to read might opt for an audiobook or a business podcast, such as Michael Hyatt's This is Your Life.
Learn by Doing
With the job market more and more flooded with MBAs, experience is key in standing out to potential employers. Gaining business experience can be as uncomplicated as offering services or goods to neighbors, friends or coworkers, keeping the initial investment small to minimize potential loss. Include time for reflection and growth. Learn which strategies don’t work and which strategies are the most effective. running a small enterprise will help you gain business knowledge through real-world applications.
Power Up With a Mentor
Business mentors are powerful instruments of learning. They know the pitfalls of the business world from experience, they can be a sounding board and provider of encouragement and they can often offer business connections. Finding a mentor is no more difficult than approaching businesspeople and asking whether they have time available. Learners who don’t know anyone to ask might research the businesses in their areas to identify candidates. As long as a request is offered respectfully, potential mentors won’t be offended, even if they must decline.
Mix and Mingle
The business world is collaborative. Jump in by joining organizations such as the American Management Association or a local Chamber of Commerce, which provide both connections and learning opportunities through educational seminars or workshops. The American Management Association, for example, offers training seminars in areas such as strategic planning, sales and marketing. Try organizations with a more social focus, as well, such as Toastmasters International.
- Forbes: How MOOCs Will Revolutionize Corporate Learning And Development
- Coursera: Courses: Business & Management
- TED: Business 101: A Reading List for Lifelong Learners
- Entrepreneur: Top 25 Business Podcasts for Entrepreneurs
- Northern Illinois University: Experiential Learning
- Entrepreneur: 9 Lessons You Won’t Learn in Business School
- Forbes: To Build a Great Company, Find Great Mentors
- American Management Association: Training Seminars
Melissa Harr is a writer and knitting pattern designer with a range of publication credits. Her latest work includes blogging for Smudge Yarns, judging fiction for Ink & Insights 2015 and creating patterns for I Like Knitting magazine. Harr holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a CELTA.