Lydia Nicoll Oct 31, 2017 - Last updated Sep 15, 2021 7 min read

How startup founders can make the most of online education

How startup founders can make the most of online educationBeing an entrepreneur is hard. Most days, it doesn't seem like there's enough hours to complete all the tasks on your infinite to-do list. But starting your own company, developing your brand into refined concepts with quality products or services, and managing scalable growth is one of the most rewarding adventures you'll ever embark on.

However, there's an important part of being a startup founder that can be overlooked or underestimated: continual learning.

In order to excel in your field, develop new ways of thinking or problem solving to always be ahead of the competition, and discover how to better promote, market, and sell, you need to be constantly evolving. This is where startup founders need to take advantage of online learning, and also discover how to make the most of it.


Online education is the new MBA

In the old way of thinking, it's been necessary to go to business school and earn an MBA in order to succeed in our cut-throat world of capitalism. In the new way of thinking, taking time away from actually starting or developing a company can seem unnecessary when experience can be seen as more valuable. We've been shown time and time again, that formal education is actually no indicator of success when it comes to startups - the important factors are more likely to include innovative thinking, grit, and adaptability to change.

That last point - adaptability to change - is the reason why education as a whole is still important. You cannot change if you aren't adaptable, and you don't know in what ways to change if you aren't open to learning. The difference now is how and where you get can receive education, and how it better fits into your overall mission, values, and schedule. Online education solves for these, with high quality content from esteemed institutions or even industry dominating companies now providing the most up-to-date educational information in niche areas.


Where to find good online education

One of the best things about online education is that it can be much more topic specific. When pursuing a traditional degree or furthering your education, there always seems to be a required course or certain topics that aren't relevant or immediately actionable in your business. With online education, you can find courses or even certifications that are much more closely related to your needs.

When I was beginning my own marketing practice, I realized I was lacking in the knowledge and skills for managing data and marketing analytics. Through Coursera, I was able to take a thorough and intensive certification course from the University of Virginia, Darden School of Business, specifically on marketing analytics. After the five week course, I could then immediately turn around and apply those learnings to my business.

If you're searching for good online education, there are a few major places to look first: Coursera, Khan Academy, Udemy, Codecademy, edX, Alison, Google Digital Garage and iTunesU are some of the top sites for online learning. And the best thing about online education is that you can take anything from a one-hour lecture, to a weekly year-long certification. Whichever type of online education you choose to pursue, you can easily make the most of it by sharing your learnings with your team, applying concepts you learn in tests with your business, or creating new marketing content with the learned concepts that will be valuable and relevant to your customers.

As a startup founder, you need to be taking advantage of online education, and you can even lead your team by example by partaking in courses. The willingness to admit you don't know everything, and actively pursuing knowledge to help and encourage your business, is a powerful thing.



Image: Adobe Stock © SolisImages



Lydia Nicoll

Lydia is a digital marketer, but first of all a word nerd. She's the founder of the Content Marketing Agency Natively.