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Where to Find Free Business Training

August 23rd 2023

Success in business often comes down to what you know. You need to know enough to come up with ideas that can be turned into a profitable business, of course.

That’s the basis of entrepreneurship. 

But if you have no business experience, or lack expertise in a particular type of venture and want to quickly get up to speed, enrolling in online courses can help. Some entrepreneurs get started as college students or in MBA programs, but you don’t have to. 

Fortunately, there are free programs offered through schools, companies, government agencies, and nonprofits to help you gain the knowledge you may currently lack.

Some places to start to look for free online training include:

Bank of America Institute for Women’s Leadership at Cornell

This free six-module certificate program offered through Cornell and sponsored by the Bank of America is for female entrepreneurs with 0 to 5 years of experience. Individual classes cover topics ranging from creating your venture to funding it, growing it, and protecting it. To be considered, complete an application at the website.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

MOOCs are courses offered through colleges and universities that are free but do not provide credits for participation that could be applied toward a degree. Schools large and small make some of their business courses available to the general public online. All you need to do is register. Here are some that might be useful for newer entrepreneurs:

MIT’s Who Is Your Customer course walks you through the process of determining who you should be targeting with your marketing messages. The course includes assessing which target customers will be willing to pay for your products or services, which is at the core of running a profitable business.

University of Maryland College Park’s course on startup funding is for business owners who are clear about what they’re selling and who their target market is, but who need funding in order to scale the business.

The University of Pennsylvania’s free course on opportunity development teaches students “how to test, prototype, and validate an idea.”

The University of California at Davis offers an introduction to website development, to help newer entrepreneurs set up shop online.

LinkedIn Learning

Although not specifically targeted at entrepreneurs, LinkedIn Learning offers free career-enhancing modules related to everything from managing people to managing stress levels.


Grow with Google offers several online certificate programs for adults looking to improve their expertise as a way to build new skills. One program, for example, is all about digital marketing and ecommerce.

New York Public Library

The Thomas Yoseloff Business Center at SNL at the New York Public Library holds regular free online events, some of which are relevant to small business owners. A recent series hosted by Elaine Pofeldt, for example, covered how to build a million-dollar one-person business.

Small Business Administration (SBA)

The SBA’s Ascent program for women working to grow their businesses is a free series of resources, including assessments and instruction available on the platform.

The SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership(OWBO)  also provides training and connections to help women uncover government contracting opportunities.

Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE)

Also part of the SBA, SCORE offers its own free online courses on entrepreneurship to help business owners improve their internal systems, find more customers, and secure needed funding.

If you’re looking for a specific type of course, to address an interest you have or a training need, a Google search is always a good starting point. Also check local community colleges and universities for relevant classes they may have, as well as community centers. It’s very likely a class exists that will provide all of the skill-building you need, though it may or may not be free—be sure to check that before you sign up.

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