October 19, 2014
In a world largely driven by a digital economy based online, it’s easier than ever to start a business with little to no overhead. Bootstrapping reduces your financial risk and allows you to get set up and running quicker than you’d be able to do if you were waiting for funding from outside sources.
But there’s a fine line between smartly bootstrapping your business to widen the gap between profits and expenses — and failing to grow because you refused to invest where necessary in your work and yourself.
That last point is particularly important. Even entrepreneurs who invest wisely in their businesses may struggle to do the same when it comes to investing in their most valuable asset: themselves. The importance of investing in yourself becomes magnified if you’re running a one-person shop as a solo business owner (or solopreneur).
You need to stay on top of the latest developments in your industry and you only benefit yourself by increasing your knowledge and diversifying your skill set. Developing a learning habit is critical to your success and will only make your business better. So don’t skimp on knowledge; education deserves some of your financial resources, too.
The good news for tightwad entrepreneurs is that you have a few options if you want to boostrap continuing education:
Open Learning Platforms
Feeling a bit regretful that you didn’t quite make the most of your college coursework? You don’t have to keep beating your 20-year-old self up for missing lectures and skipping classes anymore, thanks to open learning platforms like:
These platforms provide free access to university courses from around the United States — including classes from MIT, Georgia Tech, Yale, and Berkeley. These courses function just like online courses current college students take, complete with lectures, assignments, quizzes, and exams.
Other Free Education Opportunities
Other online sites also offer completely free educational classes and courses, though not all the material is sourced straight from university programs. Check out Khan Academy and Academic Earth for a variety of options so you can get your learn on in a format that works well for you.
Tap Social Networks
While you’re unlikely to learn much from those vitriolic “friends” that you keep on your Facebook feed for some reason, you can leverage the worldwide reach of social media to learn something new — again, at no financial cost to you.
Search YouTube to find tutorials or filmed instructions on how to accomplish specific tasks. Get on Twitter and search for organized groups and scheduled chats that are specific to your industry (and then participate in them). Jump in on podcasts that discuss issues you want to know more about: finance, entrepreneurship, science….
Get Specialty Knowledge and Build Specific Skills
So far, we’ve focused on free. But there are a number of excellent educational resources that may require a small financial investment — and depending on what kind of skills you’re looking to build, it’s wise to pay for specialized training.
Platforms like Skillshare and Udemy offer a variety of free and paid classes. High-value or technical options will usually come with price tags. These resources are great for those who want a more traditional learning environment that doesn’t require quite as much self-guided work; while you still won’t be sitting in a classroom, you’ll follow along with videos from your teacher.
What do you want to learn? Whatever skill, knowledge, or ability you’re looking to cultivate or pick up, there’s an option for entrepreneurs looking to bootstrap continuing education.
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