Free and low-cost ways to upskill your business online

As a small business owner, you’re already responsible for so many things.

Where do you find the time and money to invest in furthering your business skills?

If you’re managing fine as you are, upskilling might not seem necessary.

Think of upskilling as an investment with long-term returns. It’s not just the best way to grow your business, it’s also a way to sustain your business in the face of a changing market economy, encroaching competitors and new technology.

These days, you can easily upskill outside of the traditional TAFE course. Here are some other ways to learn online from the comfort of your home.


Upskill My Business

  • Cost: Free
  • Delivery method: Online

Last year the Victorian Government released Upskill My Business, a free learning platform to help small businesses develop relevant business skills to help them recover from the impacts of coronavirus (COVID‑19).

Upskill My Business connects you to short courses, virtual events and resources from Victoria’s top industry experts and education providers – including universities.

Through the website, you can take on a range of topics such as how to manage cash flow, mental health and running your business from home, as well as essential digital skills like marketing and operating online.

Courses can take anywhere from 45 minutes to several weeks. Some workshops are at set times, while other courses are self-paced so you can fit your learning around your life.

VCCI training and events

  • Cost: $50+
  • Delivery method: Online and in-person

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) is a business membership organisation that offers a range of services, including advocacy, consulting, networking and training.

Their courses cover topics such as finance and productivity, Microsoft Office skills and personal competencies like leadership and emotional intelligence. There is a mix of in-person and online sessions that range from a few hours to several days, as well as flexible learning in your own time.

Training sessions can vary in cost from $50 to several hundred and VCCI members get a discount.

Find out more and enrol in the VCCI training courses and workshops.

LinkedIn Learning

  • Cost: $24.99 to $39.99 per month with a free month trial
  • Delivery method: Online

LinkedIn Learning, formerly Lynda.com, is an online learning and professional development platform. Through short videos that come in a range of expertise levels, you can learn everything from communication and strategy to how to use certain computer programs.

Made by experts in their fields, courses often supply work materials and are broken into bite-sized videos so you can squeeze in a few minutes of learning a day or binge a whole course.

A LinkedIn Learning membership is $39.99 month-to-month or $24.99 per month if you pay for the full year upfront.

Explore the courses on LinkedIn Learning and give it a go with a one-month free trial.

Google Ads certification

  • Cost: Free
  • Delivery method: Online

What is the answer to life, the universe and everything? Some will quickly respond that it’s 42, while others may turn to Google for the answer.

The good news is, no matter which group you’re in, Google agrees.

The search engine has become a staple in day-to-day life. So much so that ‘google it’ has become a generic catch-all to mean ‘search the internet’.

If you want people to find your business, you need your website and Google My Business listing to be optimised for Google to find you, also known as SEO (search engine optimisation). And the best way to learn how to do that is straight from the search engine’s mouth.

Visit Google Skillshop for Google’s own free professional tools and resources to help get your business on page one of the search results.

Facebook for Business

  • Cost: Free with $150 USD exam sitting for certification
  • Delivery method: Online

A Facebook page is a staple for many businesses. With 2.4 billion users a month, Facebook is a simple (and free!) way to increase your reach beyond your Great Aunt Susan and find new markets and potential customers.

A Facebook page allows you to engage more easily with your customers and community, buy Facebook advertising and take advantage of Facebook’s algorithm to help you connect with people whose interests align with your business.

But you want to know that you’re using your time and energy effectively and track your page’s analytics to measure its impact, too.

To get the most out of Facebook and its other social apps like Instagram, you can register with Facebook Blueprint for free to complete self-paced, step-by-step tutorials and build your knowledge in digital marketing and using social media for your small business.

Facebook for Business also has some free courses in its Learn section to help you set up your page, attract an audience and engage with people in creative ways on Facebook and Instagram, or through Messenger.

Plus, if you want to go the extra step and add a shiny badge to your LinkedIn, you can even become Facebook Blueprint Certified as a digital marketing expert in Facebook’s family of apps. This isn’t just for casual learners though, with the closed-book exam costing $150 USD per sitting.

HubSpot

  • Cost: Free
  • Delivery method: Online

HubSpot is a business marketing platform that produces software, education and consulting services designed to empower businesses to ‘stop interrupting, start helping, and return their focus to the customer’.

On the HubSpot website you’ll find free marketing resources, a dedicated blog and HubSpot Academy, which has free courses and certifications.

General Assembly

  • Cost: Ranges from free up to several hundred dollars
  • Delivery method: Online and in-person

General Assembly is a worldwide training platform that specialises in all things tech and digital. It offers online and in-person courses to help organisations and individuals develop skills or learn new disciplines to improve their businesses or transition their careers.

If you’re not in a position to pay for a course, the General Assembly blog is a good resource for interesting digital know-how.

Coursera

  • Cost: Free
  • Delivery method: Online

Thanks to the internet, you’re not limited to Australian resources. A platform like Coursera has free courses from educators all over the world.

For example:


An investment in your future

Upskilling is an important investment for business owners, much like insurance.

The world has been changing rapidly for years and 2020 posed a very unique set of challenges. Many businesses weren’t prepared to have to drastically change their operations this year, whether that was going online or changing their product offerings.

Investing in your own development means you’re working on your business, not just in it. This makes you more resilient and better prepared for change – so you can meet future challenges and not only survive, but thrive.

Business Victoria

Business Victoria

Business Victoria