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A guide to upskilling your small business this summer

For many of us, the summer is an opportunity for a well-deserved break, whether that means  two weeks in the sun doing as little as humanly possible, or an action-packed staycation with the whole family. For small business owners however, these ‘quieter’ months can feel like a double-edged sword, where opportunities to relax and recharge your batteries come at the cost of your business’s productivity.

This doesn’t have to be the case: just because your business is quieter than usual doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to keep it growing and evolving. If you know you’re about to have some additional time on your hands, why not use it to pick up some skills that might benefit your business in the long term? From digital marketing to cyber security, we’ve picked out some of our favourite resources for those looking to upskill their small business this summer[1]:

Expand your digital marketing horizons

As a small business owner, digital marketing is probably already one of your core skills – it’s 2022 after all. However, there’s no harm in refreshing your knowledge, particularly as the digital marketing landscape can change so rapidly, it pays to be ahead of the game. Google Digital Garage has free courses on almost every aspect of digital marketing, from insights into online customer trends and behaviour, right through to the basics of building an AI chatbot. The courses themselves are divided into bite size modules that you can complete in your spare time, complete with simple tests to help you gauge how much you’ve learned. For small businesses looking to expand their working knowledge of digital marketing, Google Digital Garage is a fantastic free resource – you just need to log in with a Gmail account.

Find out more about Google Digital Garage and browse their free courses.

Step up your social media game

Almost every small business has a social media presence of some sort, but very few of them utilise these platforms to their full potential. There’s so much more to these platforms than simply posting updates to your page, but in the hectic schedule of a small business owner, where do you find the time to explore and test new features? In recognition of the increasing complexity and potential of their platforms, Meta (the parent company of both Instagram and Facebook) has released Blueprint, a compilation of tutorials and lessons designed to help small businesses get the most from their social media.

The lessons themselves cover everything from basics like growing follower numbers and sponsoring posts, right up to best practices for using new features like Instagram Live and building an online e-commerce store within the platforms themselves. As with Google Digital Garage, the lessons are modular and usually last between 5-15 minutes, making them the perfect activity to complete on a coffee or lunch break. In fact, there’s never been a better time for small businesses to step up their social media shopping game, as statistics compiled by Instagram in 2022 show that around 27% of 18-24 year olds now expect to be able to make purchases directly through their feeds[2].

Get more from your social media and explore new features with Meta Blueprint.

Brush up on your cyber security best practices

In 2021, 39% of small businesses reported experiencing a cyber security breach in the last 12 months[3]. It’s a worryingly high number and one that shows that it’s not just larger businesses at risk of malicious attacks. What’s more, as most small businesses don’t have dedicated IT and data security teams to keep them safe, the responsibility for staying secure online becomes collective – everyone in the team needs to have at least a basic understanding of cyber security principles and how to follow them effectively.

Fortunately, there are some fantastic free resources for small businesses looking to improve their online security. The National Cyber Security Centre has a number of simple training courses that cover the basics of robust security, including creating strong passwords, securing work devices and defending against phishing – the most common type of cyber attack. For those looking for something more interactive, they also offer ‘Exercise in a Box’, which simulates a cyber attack and allows you and your team to practice your response in a safe, controlled environment. Learning what an attack looks like and how to minimise your exposure to it is perhaps one of the most effective means of staying secure, which makes these courses even more valuable to small businesses short on both time and resources.

Put some additional time into your cyber security skills with NCSC’s training program and Exercise in a Box tool.

Upskilling has never been easier

Traditionally, learning a new skill whilst running a small business was a fairly time intensive process. It often meant time away from work, fitting weekly classes into your schedule, not to mention the added costs of simply signing up for a course. Even during quieter periods, this kind of investment simply wasn’t a feasible option for many.

Thankfully, the internet has made learning new skills incredibly accessible. As well as the resources we’ve highlighted above, there are whole websites dedicated to helping businesses and individuals broaden their skill sets and increase their knowledge. Websites like Udemy and LinkedIn Learning have a huge range of courses, covering everything from accounting to graphic design – everything, in short, that a small business owner might one day need to turn their hand to! There’s a combination of free and paid-for courses, most of which have extensive learning aids, including video lessons, quizzes and downloadable resources. As with all the other online courses in this article, you learn at your own pace and at times that suit you, which means you never feel as if you’re having to choose between running the business or learning new skills. Both platforms also offer a team subscription, streamlining the upskilling process across your business and ensuring everyone is on the same page.

Explore LinkedIn Learning, currently offering a free month’s access, and Udemy, who offer a wide range of free and paid-for courses.

[1] Please note that O2 does not necessarily recommend or endorse any of the apps or sources mentioned in this article.

[2] Instagram, 2022.

[3] Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2021, March 2021.

We hope you enjoyed this latest guide on upskilling for small businesses this Summer. If you’re thinking about levelling up your tech alongside your business skills,  check out our latest device range to help you connect and work flexibly, wherever business takes you:

You can now also Protect up to five devices with McAfee Multi Access:

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