Upskilling: A list of the best online courses and training for business owners

17 July 2020

If you've fallen into a routine of binge-watching Netflix or scrolling through social media during your downtime, and think it's time for something a little more productive, then upskilling promises to be a much better use of your time. Not only that, but it provides business owners with an opportunity to learn new skills that can help strengthen their organisations' future success down the line.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the number of people searching for online courses increased massively during the coronavirus pandemic. And in today's ever-evolving digital world, equipping yourself with the attributes and qualities that can prepare you for such constant upheaval is an undoubted benefit for business owners.

Whatever you're looking to learn, you'll be able to find a course online that can help you learn your desired skill(s) at a pace that suits you. Here, we've collected some of the best, most affordable online courses that business owners and their employees can use to boost their skill set. 


Now under the umbrella of LinkedIn Learning, Lynda is highly regarded by its million+ users for the extensive, expert-led course selection, which can be tailored to suit a range of businesses and not-for-profit organisations.

Aiming to help users achieve both personal and professional goals across a range of creative, technological and business topics, the sheer number of skills on offer makes Lynda a superb resource for business owners looking to add a string to their bow.

Though its courses are not accredited, the industry-insider-curation certainly adds a great deal of prestige to things, and with 15,000+ of them to choose from, stretching the sinews of your knowledge is easily do-able. Plus, its annual membership lets budding polymaths study multiple courses at the same time.


With over 80,000 courses created by a range of individuals and experts, Udemy has something to sate both intellect and intrigue, whatever you're looking for. Rather than a subscription-based service, Udemy offers one-off courses often for less than $20 (with some free of charge too), which you can complete at a pace that suits you and your schedule.

With a breadth of business-related topics and courses to choose from that suit a range of businesses, it's an exceptional resource for those looking to keep an eye on the purse strings. Plus, its short 4-6-minute videos make the learning process digestible, so it's a great option for those with busy schedules to work around too. Topics range from learning about SWOT analysis, finance & accounting, human resource management, and small business law, amongst a whole host of others.


Partnering with some of the best educational institutions across the globe, including Stanford, Yale and Princeton, Coursera offers a quality of course and training that you'd expect from such academic heavy hitters. With access to videos, community discussion forums, and assignments reviewed by peers, Coursera has plenty to sink your teeth into.

Many of the courses are free, but you'll have to fork out extra for the assignments and any certificates you'll receive upon completion, with prices hovering around the $29-$99 region. There's plenty of subjects on offer too, ranging from courses on how to start your business (perfect for the budding entrepreneur) to improving your decision-making from a legal perspective.   

They even offer accredited degrees from the aforementioned universities, though these will set you back a fair bit. However, for a fully-recognised degree that you can do from the comfort of your couch, it could be worth looking into.

Learning new skills at home


Unless you plan on falling behind, then getting up to speed with a technological and digital landscape that's always evolving is hugely important to a business' success. With learning paths and courses created by industry leaders, Pluralsight is designed to help both businesses and individuals looking to plug the gaps in their knowledge with regards to technology and incoming innovations.

With courses focused on business, graphic design, software development, IT and manufacturing design, Pluralsight is geared towards tech-heads and creative types. But if you're looking to strengthen existing skills and improve on any weak areas, it can prove to be an exceptional resource. Plus, they also offer a monthly subscription-based model that lets users access their entire course library for just $29 per month.

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Owned by the Open University, FutureLearn's credentials are certainly impressive, but its community-driven focus and attractive pricing have proven popular with people all over the globe. Emphasising the social aspect of online learning, FutureLearn provides plenty of room to collaborate and debate with other students, while allowing for mentoring opportunities too.

Joining is free, as is its multitude of courses that include a range of business, finance and digital marketing fundamentals to help fill those knowledge gaps in a way that suits you. Certification requires you to pay a fee, but you'll be able to download and store course materials for future reference later down the line.


Touting itself as "future-facing education", Udacity partners with organisations like Nvidia, Google and Facebook to bring its users world-class courses and programmes. With a range of topics including, but by no means limited to, cloud computing, data science and business development, Udacity has plenty for those looking to bolster their skill set, but it's the depth of such courses that really impresses. With community support and 1-on-1s with technical mentors, the website's dedication to pushing the limits of online education makes it a stand-out choice.

man learning new skills

Udacity offers two types of learning pathways. Their normal courses take a few weeks, but for those looking to delve deeper, they also feature what's known as a Nanodegree. These are comprehensive courses that can take around 6 to 12 months to complete, providing you with a specialised skill set in a particular area of your choice.

Hubspot Academy

If your business is looking to boost its online presence, make Hubspot Academy your go-to. Designed to help develop expertise across a range of online sales and marketing topics, it can provide real value to both you and your staff. With popular topics covering inbound marketing, SEO, email marketing and Facebook advertising, Hubspot Academy's entirely free-of-charge approach makes it a no-brainer for those on a budget.

What's more, their courses are easy to digest, offering simple-to-follow modules free from superfluous material, so you can focus on learning only the most salient points of a given topic. Essential for those business owners who may have other things on their plate too.

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