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Top 5 free training programmes for small businesses

When you’re just starting out or you’re trying to run a lean business with relatively few staff members, undertaking or offering training doesn’t seem realistic. But, over the past few years, with the rise of virtual learning, free online training courses are a flexible alternative to costly courses that take staff out of the office for days at a time. If you’re looking to upskill your team, here are five great free options – from Microsoft Office through to HR, marketing and social media.

  1. Managing and managing people

If you’re new to business ownership and have never really had to deal with people management, or if you have a small HR team who would like to undertake some basic training, the Open University’s OpenLearn platform has the answer. Its ‘Managing and managing people’ course helps staff become more effective by teaching them to manage their time and understand causes of stress in their managerial roles.

  1. Microsoft Office training

Microsoft Office includes the applications Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook – basically, applications that most entrepreneurs will use at one point or another. Microsoft’s online training site has tutorials from basic to advanced, covering all Office 2010, 2007 and 2003 applications, as well as interactive guides, workbooks and demos to help you get the most out of the software for different aspects of your business.

  1. Write the ultimate one-page marketing plan

According to business consultant and entrepreneur William U. Peña, businesses with a marketing plan are 80 percent more successful than those without. His ‘Ultimate 1-Page Marketing Plan’ is designed to help small businesses define their marketing and sales goals and achieve them by keeping things super simple. Plus one of the modules is called ‘Planning a kick-butt marketing calendar’ – so we’re immediately sold.

  1. Creating an ethical organisation

Although this OpenLearn course is aimed at HR staff members, it will be relevant to all small teams. Instead of focusing on adapting to the environment surrounding an organisation, this course is centred on how individuals can shape that environment – from regulatory, economic, political and social perspectives.

  1. Social media 101

American company Constant Contact established their ‘Social media 101’ course to help small business owners get to grips with different social platforms. The course is set out in a really straightforward way, with each social platform forming a module of the course. The modules tackle all sorts of questions – from the basics such as adding photos to social accounts to understanding how to promote your posts to the right audience.

For more business tech advice, check out the O2 Business Gurus online or on the phone. Not on Windows Phone? Check out our guides to backing up your iPhone or Android phone.


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