Insight on the internet

6 online learning resources to help build your business

By Brittany King

About eight million minority-owned businesses are operating across the United States, a figure that’s twice what it was a decade ago, according to the Minority Business Development Agency. Starting and growing a business can be difficult for anyone, but it can be especially challenging for women and people of color due to various inequities. Luckily, there are organizations and resources that exist to help these businesses get a leg up on the competition. Read on for a list of online resources — some tailored specifically to MBEs and WBEs, some not — to help you learn new skills and enhance old ones to take your business to the next level.

Hubspot Academy

Hubspot Academy is something of an inbound marketing pioneer. Their courses are mostly aimed at professionals in the digital marketing and social media space. In this digital age, it’s important that every business has some form of an internet presence. If you are not able to hire a social media strategist, taking some time to go through Hubspot’s courses (there are dozens) is a good option. You can watch the videos at your own pace, and at the end there is an opportunity to take an exam. Upon successful completion of the course and the exam, you will receive a certificate for your work.

Minority Business Development Agency

MBDA is an agency within the United States Department of Commerce that sets out to promote the growth of minority-owned business by mobilizing and advancing public and private sector programs, policy and research. On top of securing an average of $5.4 billion in investment funds to disperse throughout the year, MBDA hosts a series of online courses, from creating a business plan to securing funding for your startup. In fact, their entire website is full of blog posts, videos and publications to aid in your entrepreneurial journey from inception to implementation. Get started at mbda.gov.

NAWBO

The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) wants to empower women to not only work in their business, but also work on their business. To that end, NAWBO offers parts of its NAWBO Institute Virtual Environment to all, not just registered members. Within the virtual institute, users will find the Auditorium (with virtual programming and webinars from NAWBO and partner organizations), the Exhibit Hall (where sponsors and partners share resources and tools and offer expert consultation) and the Resource Lounge (a library of articles, videos, books, white papers, templates and more). Learn more at nawbo.org/resources.

SCORE

SCORE, housed under the Small Business Administration, aims to help small businesses get off the ground and grow through education and mentorship. Throughout the year, they host a series of webinars every week ranging from topics about digital trends to tax planning. They’ve been in business for more than 50 years, and what’s great about their platform is how accessible it is. They offer mentoring in person, via email or video chat; free and inexpensive workshops locally and virtually; and free tools and templates online. Visit score.org/browse-library, where you can search and sort results by “entrepreneur type,” with categories including women, minority, young, veteran and “encore” (age 50+) entrepreneurs.

Skillshare

Skillshare is an online community for business owners, freelancers and life-long students looking to develop a new skill. Whether you want to elevate your diction, design fliers for an upcoming event or learn to snap a photo for your social platforms, Skillshare has you covered. The learn-by-doing model allows you to teach yourself as you go and revisit anything you haven’t quite mastered yet. The platform has more than two million students and teachers, so you’ll never feel like you’re going it alone. As an added bonus, each course has a project at the end that allows students to offer feedback to one another.

Small Business Administration

The Small Business Administration offers a multitude of online resources beyond what’s included in SCORE. The SBA Learning Center at sba.gov offers courses on contracting opportunities for veteran-owned businesses, development of Native American-owned businesses, encore entrepreneurship for women and more. Elsewhere on the SBA’s site, find contacts for local resources and other helpful initiatives. The agency’s 8(a) business development assistance program for women and minority-owned businesses gives business owners access to proposals that are targeted exclusively at minority business owners and their potential clients. Sba.gov is also available entirely in Spanish.