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12 online business courses (shortest to longest)

Have you ever wanted to increase your business knowledge as a small business owner but have no idea where to start?

This is where online business courses come in.

From beginner courses on business strategy to more advanced topics like accounting, the internet is full of online classes you can take to improve your expertise and study business online.

But what are some popular online business courses?

To answer this question, we've compiled 12 popular online business courses you can take in 2023, ordered from the shortest to longest completion time, including:

Let’s dive in!

1. Small Business Association: Legal Requirements

Best for: Understanding legal business requirements

Price: Free

Estimated time commitment: ~20 minutes

Are you a business owner or looking to start a business but are unsure of the legal requirements? In this quick and easy online course, you can get up to speed on small business legal requirements in 20 minutes.

Offered by the Small Business Administration (SBA), this 16-part Legal Requirements video course covers everything from business registration to small business taxes. This free and self-paced course can help business owners brush up on some foundational legal considerations that may impact their small business.

2. University of Virginia: Foundations of Business Strategy

Best for: Beginners

Price: Free (Optional upgrade: $79/mo)

Estimated time commitment: ~9 hours

The Foundations of Business Strategy online course from the University of Virginia is an excellent course for those looking to learn the basics of business strategy. In this course, users learn how to conduct a competitive analysis and use what they learn to make informed business decisions.

Michael Lenox, Senior Associate Dean and Chief Strategy Officer and Jared Harris, Samuel L. Slover Research Chair and Associate Professor of Business Administration teach this nine-hour course.

This class is aimed at beginners and is taught by top-ranked faculty. With flexible deadlines and free enrollment, this course may be beneficial for students looking to dip their toes into the business world.

3. UCI: Work Smarter, Not Harder: Time Management for Personal & Professional Productivity

Best for: Boosting productivity

Price: Free (Upgrade included with Coursera Plus)

Estimated time commitment: ~10 hours

No matter what you do, time management is an essential skill for success in both your business and personal life. With the Work Smarter, Not Harder: Time Management for Personal & Professional Productivity online course from the University of California Irvine, students will learn how to improve their time management skills.

Led by Margaret Meloni, MBA, PMP, an instructor at UCI and President of Meloni Coaching Solutions, Inc., this course provides time management tips and techniques to help students make the most of their time and maximize productivity, allowing them to achieve their personal and business goals more easily.

The course offers the flexibility to reset deadlines and learn the course material at the user's own pace. Users who dedicate roughly three hours per week have the course completed in just four weeks, making it one of the shorter business courses.

4. QuickBooks Training courses

Best for: Small business owners

Price: $679.95 (Optional upgrade: +$29.95/mo)

Estimated time commitment: ~14 hours

As a small business owner, you likely have your hands in a lot of processes. From tracking expenses to running payroll, many small business owners rely on accounting software to help automate time-consuming tasks and reduce human error.

With the QuickBooks comprehensive training program, you'll learn the knowledge and skills you need to learn the ins and outs of QuickBooks software in only two days, making the transition as smooth as possible.

In this online course, you’ll learn how to set up online banking, record transactions, generate reports, and customize QuickBooks for your business, allowing you to streamline everyday tasks and simplify your work.

Whether you take the course live or learn at your own pace with over 200+ hours of QuickBooks training at your fingertips, this course is a surefire way to help you master the bookkeeping and accounting process for your business.

Part of the University of Washington’s computer science and engineering program, Transaction Processing for E-Commerce is available free online through a series of lecture slides and video archives. It even includes four assignments to enhance students’ understanding.

The course offers students a deeper understanding of the engineering aspects of transaction processing, including how to implement and distribute a transaction system in Java or C++. Although there are no specific prerequisites to the advanced-level course, students should bring a general understanding of web programming and a basic knowledge of SQL.

5. IE Business School: Brand Identity and Strategy

Best for: Learning the basics of branding

Price: Free (Upgrade included with Coursera Plus)

Estimated time commitment: ~14 hours

For students looking to learn how to successfully build their brand, the Brand Identity and Strategy course from the IE Business School may be the course they are looking for.

Taught by Rhodes Scholar and professor Dr. María Eizaguirre Diéguez, this course description claims it has helped over 55,000 students learn how to segment their customers and build effective brands, teaching everything from picking a business name to colors and logos that align with your business.

quote image
Consumer insights are points of deep emotional leverage that brands can connect to in order to drive action.
Dr. María Eizaguirre Diéguez, Marketing & Branding Professor, IE School of Human Sciences and Technology

This intermediate online business course has flexible deadlines, allowing users to take the class at the speed that works best for them.

6. University of Maryland: Fundamentals of Digital Marketing

Best for: Understanding digital marketing

Price: Free (Optional upgrade: $199)

Estimated time commitment: ~16 hours

For those interested in marketing, the University of Maryland offers a Fundamentals of Digital Marketing course taught by P.K. Kannan, the Dean’s Chair in Marketing Science at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, and Lingling Zhang, an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland.

From digital marketing strategy to omnichannel marketing, you can complete this self-paced course in four weeks, leaving users with valuable insights to help succeed in e-commerce and social media marketing.

While users may complete this course for free, it costs $199 to receive a certificate of completion and graded assignments and exams.

7. Business Strategy from Wharton: Competitive Advantage

Best for: Strategic planning

Price: Free (Optional upgrade: $199)

Estimated time commitment: ~21 hours

With the Business Strategy from Wharton: Competitive Advantage online course, users can get a taste of a U.S. News top-three ranked business school education for free. In this self-paced graduate-level course, users learn how to create a strategic planning process that works and how to gain a competitive advantage in the business world. By dedicating 3-4 hours a week, users can complete this course in six weeks. 

This course is taught by Nicolaj Siggelkow, a David M. Knott Professor of Management at the Wharton School. With an educational background that includes Stanford University and Harvard University, Siggelkow has experience running strategy workshops for Fortune 500 companies.

8. Yale University: Introduction to Negotiation: A Strategic Playbook for Becoming a Principled and Persuasive Negotiator

Best for: Negotiators

Price: Free (Optional upgrade: $49)

Estimated time commitment: ~33 hours

Small business owners see a fair share of negotiating. Whether trying to reach a salary agreement with an employee or negotiating with suppliers, it can never hurt to sharpen one’s negotiation skills.

Look no further than Introduction to Negotiation: A Strategic Playbook for Becoming a Principled and Persuasive Negotiator, an online course offered by Yale University. Taught by Barry Nalebuff, Milton Steinback Professor at Yale School of Management, this course has a 97% thumbs-up rating on Coursera, where Nalebuff is a top instructor.

In this course, users learn how to become better negotiators and learn valuable skills that can help quickly analyze conflicts and seek out underlying interests. The course is 100% free and can be started at one’s own pace. Plus, after the approximately 33-hour course, users earn a shareable certificate of completion to add to their resume.

9. HarvardX: Contract Law: From Trust to Promise to Contract

Best for: Understanding contract law

Price: Free (Optional upgrade: $199)

Estimated time commitment: ~36 hours

Contracts are an integral part of business. From equipment leases to retainer agreements, small business owners have likely come in contact with contracts in day-to-day life. For those looking to learn more about forming contracts and what makes them enforceable, HarvardX’s Contract Law: From Trust to Promise to Contract online course may be helpful.

Taught by Charles Fried, the Beneficial Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and a leading authority on contract law, users will learn everything from the limitations of contract law to remedies for broken agreements, all at their own pace.

With a commitment of three to six hours per week, users can complete this course in eight weeks, all at no cost. For a $199 upgrade fee, users can leave the course with unlimited access to course materials, a shareable certificate of completion, and graded assignments and exams.

10. Harvard University: Leading with Finance

Best for: Everyday business professionals 

Price: $1,750

Estimated time commitment: ~39 hours

Taught by Mihir Desai, the Mizuho Financial Group Professor of Finance at Harvard Business School, Leading with Finance is a self-paced online business class that will teach essential financial skills that can help students better understand finance within their industry and advance their career.

quote image
Finance is completely and ruthlessly forward-looking. The only source of value today is the future.
Mihir Desai, Mizuho Financial Group Professor of Finance at Harvard Business School

While this is a paid course, anyone over 18 years old can apply for enrollment at no cost. The course can be completed in six weeks, and it's broken down into six modules, ranging from Financial Analysis to Capital Allocation. After completing the course, users receive a Certificate of Completion from HBS Online.

11. brunchwork: Business Intensive

Best for: Hands-on learning

Price: $1649-$2750

Estimated time commitment: ~88 hours

The brunchwork Business Intensive online course focuses on strengthening eight core business skills, including branding, customer research, sales, strategy, and finance. 

Unlike some other courses, none of the coursework involves prerecorded videos. Instead, learners participate in hands-on projects and live discussions. The course also features weekly speakers, including top business leaders such as Aaron Bay Schuck, CEO of Warner Bros Records.

Users can enroll in the course for either $1649 or $1999, with the latter option including three additional months of continuing education and two private office hours where learners can receive personalized feedback.

12. MITx: Financial Accounting

Best for: Understanding financial accounting

Price: Free (Optional upgrade: $450)

Estimated time commitment: ~144 hours

It’s nearly impossible to study business without running into some level of accounting. With the Financial Accounting online course from MITx, participants learn how to read and analyze financial statements, gather inputs to valuation models, and more valuable skills that can help students boost their business knowledge.

In this instructor-paced course, users learn valuable financial accounting skills from John Core, Professor of Accounting at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and Egor Matveyev, a Senior Lecturer in Finance at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

With an estimated dedication of 10-14 hours a week, this course is 12 weeks long and entirely free. It costs $450  to receive a certificate of completion and graded assignments and exams.

Keeping your employees happy and productive

Whether you’re improving your business strategy or implementing accounting software to boost your productivity, online business courses provide a great avenue for expanding your business knowledge, allowing you to bring takeaways to your business that can help make life easier for you and your employees.

Online business courses FAQ

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