Online resources for small businesses

One of the most enticing things about entrepreneurship is doing things your own way. It's your business, your product, your efforts and your rewards. But doing things your own way doesn't mean doing things without any help.

For a number of small business owners, getting to grips with the nuts and bolts of running a successful enterprise can be a challenge. Especially when it comes to the financial and legal side of things.

But there's a wealth of information out there that can help you run your small business – and a lot of it is entirely free.

Here you’ll find useful advice, courses and templates to help you in areas from tax to social media.

1. MIT Open Courseware

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is one of the top universities in the world for business and technology. You can now access materials for over 60 of its undergraduate and graduate courses for free online. With courses ranging from Early Stage Capital to The Art and Science of Negotiation, there's sure to be something of value for any ambitious business owner.

2. Tax Donut

An extensive collection of articles, calculators and links to official government pages. You’ll find resources ranging from advice on self-assessment to understanding National Insurance contributions and PAYE.

3. Moz.com

If you want to establish and grow your presence online, begin with their respected, free beginner's guides to SEO, link building and social media. While the more advanced features require a paid subscription, they do offer a 30-day free trial with the option to cancel at any time.

4. Coursera

This network of educational institutions offers a mix of free and paid online courses from a range of respected schools, including Yale University and the Copenhagen Business School. They already have over 100 courses on the topics of business and finance, and you can even earn verifiable electronic certificates endorsed by each particular university.

5. Bplans

A professional and convincing business plan isn't just for new start-ups – it's also an essential part of securing new investment when the time comes to grow and expand. This site offers a huge number of free sample business plans across a wide range of business sectors, as well as a number of free articles offering advice on writing them yourself.

6. edX

Much like Coursera, this network of educational partners offers a range of free online courses, from Financial Analysis and Decision Making to Innovation and Commercialization. Again, many of the courses are offered by highly reputable institutions, such as Berkeley or Harvard universities.

It’s true that business always throws you new challenges. But you can prepare yourself for these changes if you stay open to learning.

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