12 free online resources that will make you smarter about business

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You invest so much in your company and career. Why not invest in your own education?

CNBC compiled the best free online resources to make you smarter about business. From a Harvard lecture on perfecting your pitch to an MIT seminar on growing your business, these tutorials will give you a leg up on the competition — and all they'll cost you is your time.

— By Marguerite Ward
Posted 9 Sept. 2016

1. How to create a business model

Source: Strategyzer

Gone are the days of lengthy business plans. If you can successfully lay out your plan in a concise business model canvas, or a simple one-pager, you'll be well on your way.

This set of YouTube videos, "Getting From Business Idea to Business Model" and "Visualizing Your Business Model," by online platform Strategyzer will explain everything you need to know to get started.


2. How to get your start-up started

Source: Udacity

This Udacity course called "Get Your Startup Started" is taught by a program manager at Google with an entrepreneurial background. It's a great compilation of interviews with experts on topics like defining your vision, creating a plan and getting financing.

3. How to avoid common missteps

Source: University of California, Berkely Haas School of Business

Knowing what not to do is as important as knowing what to do — especially in business. This UC Berkeley lecture called "Top Ten Mistakes of Entrepreneurs" given by Guy Kawasaki, a Silicon Valley thought leader, has you covered.

4. How to conduct market research

Source: University of California, Irvine

Put simply, conducting market research ensures that people actually want and are willing to pay for your product or service. Talking to people and collecting data is important, but how do you get started?

Check out this University of California, Irvine class "Conducting a Thorough Market Assessment" taught by Brant Cooper and Patrick Vlaskovits, co-authors of "The Lean Entrepreneur."

5. How to perfect your pitch

Source: Harvard Innovation Labs

Interested in crafting the perfect pitch? Watch this Harvard Innovation Labs lecture, "Startup Secrets: Getting Behind the Perfect Pitch," by Michael Skok, an entrepreneur-turned-venture capitalist.

6. How to problem-solve as you go

Source: Udemy

This Udemy course, "Lean Canvas Course," by entrepreneur and author Ash Maurya will help you identify risks in your business plan and pivot to find solutions to problems you may encounter along the way.

7. How to get financing

Source: Coursera

University of Maryland professor of technology entrepreneurship Michael R. Pratt walks new entrepreneurs through tips and tricks to finance your startup in this Coursera class, "New Venture Finance: Startup Funding for Entrepreneurs."

8. How to influence others to get behind your ideas

Source: influenceatwork, Robert Cialdini

So many things in business require strong persuasion skills. Social psychologist and author Robert Cialdini shares six principles of persuasion in this tutorial, "Science Of Persuasion."

9. How to manage your finances

Source: LearnVest

If you want to stay on top of your start-up game, you'll need to be secure with your personal finances. Check out the free class "How to Budget" by LearnVest financial planner Natalie Taylor.

10. How to get patents, trademarks and copyright protection

Source: Small Business Administration

This legal course by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers easy-to-understand explanations of the complicated topics of patents, trademarks and copyrights, which can be essential to business success.

11. How to navigate small-business law

Source: Small Business Administration

Wondering what business licenses you may need or how to file taxes? The SBA's starter course on small business legal requirements will point you in the right direction.

12. How to improve and grow your business

Source: Prometheus Internet Marketing, MIT

MIT seminar "The Startup Code" is taught by entrepreneurs Kenny Goodman and Andrew Percey and offers smart tips on how to grow and improve your business.

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