4 Of The Hottest Online Learning Tools For Entrepreneurs

Thinking about starting or improving your own business? With so much learning at your fingertips, it would be silly not to take advantage of these four trending online resources.

The online learning space is at full boil. Whether you want to spruce up your knitting skills or learn how to take perfect wedding photos, there is an e-course built just for you.

When it comes to entrepreneurial lessons, there are also a growing number of offerings to suit how you learn best. From tuning into a quick one-hour live video to diving deep into an eight-week course, today's digital learning ecosystem offers something for every business owner.

1. Live video-based learning.

CreativeLive: Business
Price: Free live video courses (fee for anytime access)

While CreativeLive focuses on video-based classes for photographers and designers, they also have a number of business classes. For example, over the next few months, they have titles such as "Stress-Free Selling" and "Fund Your Business for Growth."

The company boasts more than 2 million users and 500 courses, making it one of the leading learning portals online. When a course is live, you can watch it for free. However, there is an on-demand access fee if you missed the live show. For the most part, popular industry experts host the company's courses. CreativeLive recently raised $21.5 million in financing.

2. Personality-driven business programs.

Marie Forleo's B-School
Price: $1,999 one-time fee for eight-week course

This eight-week course teaches business owners how to market online, or as the official program tour explains, this is "the online business school for modern entrepreneurs." Host Marie Forleo, a well-known online marketing expert, author, and business owner, guides students through detailed learning modules with specific steps for figuring out everything from your profit plan to successful lead generation to website strategy.

The entire program plan is well-executed, focusing intensely on interaction with Marie and her team (AKA Team Forleo). There is a live weekly call with Forleo where you can ask specific questions. Plus, they have a private student-only Facebook group to support grads. If you aren't satisfied with the course within the first 30 days, the company will refund you. B-School takes place once a year (the 2014 course just kicked off), but Forleo offers free weekly videos via MarieTV on YouTube, which routinely reach tens of thousands of viewers.

3. Getting more out of Google.

Google for Entrepreneurs: Online Learning
Price: Free

Look no further than Google to find great learning resources, such as Google+ Communities and Google Helpouts. Google for Entrepreneurs includes a number of programs, such as video-based classes with industry experts. For example, dive into "Making Something People Love" with Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian. In this hour-long course, the renowned entrepreneur chats about topics such as branding basics and how to build a community of users.

If you're curious about how to incorporate your company, Attorney Adam Dinow hosts an almost 30-minute class on corporate entity options. These classes are part inspirational and part practical. If you want some bite-sized advice on entrepreneurial topics, you can't go wrong with these videos. For now, the library is small, but hopefully, they'll be adding more.

4. Membership-based education.

Price: $25/month, basic membership for unlimited access to videos and new weekly courses

Lynda.com started in 1995 and now has more than 2,000 courses from more than 250 authors. With 4 million members, it is one of the oldest players in this space. The lynda "all-you-can-learn" membership model means you pay a monthly fee for unlimited access to its many courses.

In the business section, it offer skills-based learning ranging from project management to career development to leadership. With such a vast library, the site is able to break down its business courses into different levels, from beginner through advanced. If you want to get educated on the go, it also has a number of apps to support the mobile learning process.

[Image: Flickr user DaveBleasdale]

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  • This is great information. There is always more to learn with the constantly changing markets of the world. Its nice to know that everything a business owner needs to know will, for the most part, be accessible at our fingertips.

  • I heard about Marie Forleo's Bschool 3 or 4 years ago and every year I wanted to enroll. I have been self-employed most of my life with only 10 years as an employee in a public system. I'm in my 50's and had a successful brick and mortar biz for 20 years. I closed that business a couple of years ago and then last year decided to take Marie Forleo's Bschool to learn more about running an online business. I registered through one of her affiliates (a fellow Canadian) and feel it was one of the best trainings I've done. It's the first time in my life I feel like I am in a community of truly supportive female entrepreneurs. I wish I hadn't waited so long to take the course.

  • Linda Patch

    I take such incredible exception to the co-opting of the name B-school. What a cheap tactic that I cannot believe Fast Company is promoting--and "personality driven" no less. Ugh.

    My DIL just got into the Yale School of Management after years of dedication and hard work. THAT is B school. People leave B school with an MBA, not a Mario Forleo aphorism-filed, you-go-girl business training light. Try presenting your Forleo B school credentials to your next prospective employer and see if you don't get laughed out of the room.

    What Marie Forleo presents as B school is something that brings to mind the phrase "there's a fool born every minute." Yet, on your dime, she laughs all the way to the bank. Wake up people!

  • Deborah Hamilton

    Marie Forleo's B-School is built on an affiliate model. Her affiliates, carefully chosen & invited by her, receive $1,000 for each person they enroll. This is multi-level marketing; this is a pyramid. There are many angry stories about being ripped off by Forleo across the internet. I'd be interested in a good honest story about B-School and what Forleo herself has made compared to what kind of profit her buyers see. I disagree that she is a good model. Many of her students make money ONLY by luring others into Forleo's 'school.' If Fast Company could write about this it'd be really helpful.

  • You are missing the point entirely - this article is a list of ONLINE LEARNING TOOLS for entrepreneurs. Has nothing to do with MBA's. It's not a substitute for an MBA. You are comparing apples and oranges.

    Though you are quick to criticize B School, I'll speculate that you haven't taken Forleo's 8-week course, otherwise you would see the value and tools that the program provides exceeds the $1999 investment for an online training tool.

    You're statement is incorrect. Marie Forleo's B-School is not "built" on an affiliate model, and it's not MLM. B-School is simply an ONLINE LEARNING TOOL for entrepreneurs. Nuf said.

    But since you are comparing B-School to MBAs (assuming you have an MBA) do the math . . . Spending $1999 on Forleo's B-school is very different than spending $168,000 on a Wharton MBA: http://bit.ly/1dAjakt . Must faster ROI.

  • B-School is NOT multi-level marketing nor is it a pyramid scheme.

    I would venture to say that many people who enroll in B-school do so directly through Forleo's website. And so what if there are affiliates who are offering additional benefits.

    Forleo puts forth an enormous amount of work into her program and offers incredible value. She also provides a huge amount of content at absolutely no cost via her Marie TV episodes. Sure, one could gain the same knowledge that is offered in the B-School program all for free through watching the episodes. Yet, there are others that want and need the structure of a program like B-school AND are willing to pay for it.

    Like anything else, it's certainly not a magic pill. Those whiners that say they are "ripped off" are the ones that don't want to put effort into doing the leg work necessary to launch a business. Nuf said!

    Before criticizing the program, you should try it for yourself - there's a 30-day money back guarantee.

  • Deborah Hamilton

    Wrong -- Forleo's affiliates receive $1000 for each person they sign up. I wonder if you 2 are affiliates? It is a pyramid scheme.

  • Linda Patch

    Fools think this is business school. It's a personality driven, feel-good model that borders on cultish. It caters to the neophyte because it doesn't offer much of substance once you dig below the surface. Check in when you make your first million and credit Forleo's awesome business school training-especially all the incredible training that comes through Marie TV! Now that is some pure aphorism-filled, BS schlock. We won't hold our breath waiting to hear back. Go to REAL B School. .

  • I like these suggestions. I've been a Lynda.com subscriber for years. You may also want to get feedback on your performance as you work to continually learn and improve your skills. I found www.helpmeshine.com to be an excellent tool for collecting feedback and monitoring progress.