Business Update – October

Hi everyone.  Today I just wanted to give an update on what I’ve been doing, how things are going, and what I’ve been thinking.

As previously mentioned, I’ve been doing some online training into business start-ups.  One of the more in-depth courses, How to Build a Startup through Udacity, talks about researching before actually starting/finalizing a business plan or settling on a business model.  It also mentions how important it is to go out and talk with your potential customer base and find out what it is they need or want, and then changing your draft business plan based on that feedback.  So far I’ve made a draft business plan, and now I just need to figure out a plan of attack when it comes to speaking with potential customers.  As my business would be SEO and advice / help for creating and maintaining an online presence for other small businesses, I would need to contact and talk with established small business owners.  Personally I hate the idea of cold-calling people or randomly turning up to their businesses to start asking questions that they most likely wouldn’t care about, so this may be a little awkward. I think the best option (for now at least) would be to join and participate in small business forums.  This is a great option as I wouldn’t be disturbing people as they’re trying to work / run a business, and I’d be able to gain valuable advice while also finding out their opinions on my ideas.  A quick Google search shows that there’s plenty of forums out there.

I’ve been getting a little bored of the online training lately, so taking a break to focus on the more practical side of things might be a welcome break.  It wouldn’t hurt to research similar businesses; see what they do, maybe have a chat and get some advice?

Lately I’ve been reading articles from the Entrepreneur and Small Business sections of Forbes.  There’s a lot of great advice and interesting articles from people who managed to take a great idea and turned it into a profitable business.

 

Joining a local business network would be a great opportunity.  My local business network, the Benalla Business Network, even offers incentives to people who join.  I keep meaning to join, but keep putting it off.  Right now I can’t afford a yearly membership fee (even with all the extras it includes), and currently I haven’t got a business to speak of that could take advantage of the incentives.  It’s always good to network and get advice though.

I really need to renew my Microsoft Office subscription.  I let it run out while I was on a break and now I need it again.  Thankfully Google Docs is free, but unfortunately the Google versions of Word and Excel don’t have quite the same level of features as Microsoft Office.

I found a great website that allows you to make flyers, business cards, presentations, etc cheaply.  Check out Canva.  In a nutshell, it’s like a cheap online version of Microsoft Publisher, but whereas with Publisher you have to supply the photos and graphics, everything is available from Canva itself.  You can even upload your own photos and use them instead.  There are free photos, templates, graphics, etc available, or you can choose from the paid libraries.  They boast a library of over 1,000,000 photos alone, so chances are you’ll find something you’ll like.  Each paid items is $1.00 USD.

And that’s about all for now.  I’m pretty sure there were other things I wanted to touch on, but I made the mistake of not writing things down.

 

All About MOOCs

Hi everyone.  This update is all about MOOCs and how they’re helping me start my own business.

First up, what’s a MOOC?  MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course.  As the name implies, these are massive online courses that are open to anyone, anywhere, and can cover almost anything.  You name the area of interest, and there’s likely a MOOC for it.

Where to Find MOOCs

A great place to start when looking into courses is  MOOC List.  Think of it as a directory for MOOCs.  From here you can search using areas of interest, providers, language, types of certificates offered, etc.

MOOC List also includes reviews about each course so you can get an idea on its quality before enrolling.  Once you’ve found a course you’re interested in, it’s just a matter of clicking the link that will take you to the course’s website, and enroll.  MOOC List doesn’t offer any courses itself.  It’s just a collection of links and reviews of courses offered by other entities.  You don’t even need to make an account for MOOC List if you don’t want to.  You can just use it as a base for finding anything of interest and leave it at that.  Of course, if you want to leave reviews or create a list of MOOCs you’re interested in, then you will need to create an account with MOOC List.

Costs and Pricing

The MOOCs listed on MOOC List are free.  The only time a cost comes up for these courses is if you require certification once the course is complete.  If you don’t require certification, then you won’t need to pay a cent.  The cost for certification depends on who’s offering the course.

Courses offered or listed elsewhere may not be free.  For example, I’ve found some courses of interest through StackSocial.  Just like MOOC List, StackSocial has lots of courses from different sources, but unlike MOOC List, many of these are paid courses.  I’ll go into further detail about StackSocial another time, but I suggest having a look at it.  Just keep in mind that, if you’re anything like me, you will find a lot of interesting courses, and it will add up pretty quickly.

My Thoughts and Opinions

So, now that we’ve got the gist of what a MOOC is, where to find them, and how much they cost, what do I think?  Well, so far so good.  I’ve mainly been doing business start-up and business management MOOCs through Udacity (How to Build a Start Up course), Saylor Acadmey (Principles of Marketing, Corporate Communication, and Small Business Management courses), and FutureLearn (Starting a Business series).

Each of these courses are completely different; for example, the Starting a Business series through FutureLearn are very short; each one only being about two weeks long.  Meanwhile, the Udacity and Saylor Academy courses are much more in-depth and take a lot longer.  Thankfully most MOOCs allow you to study at your own pace.

Each of them include videos, podcasts, reading, links and information for other resources, and even allow interaction with other students.

Conclusion

I highly recommend checking out MOOCs, regardless of whether it’s for professional or personal development.  Just keep in mind that you may find a lot more MOOCs that you want to do than you have time to do them.  Many of the courses are offered as ‘learn at your own pace’, but there are the odd few that are timed.  Generally speaking, many of the timed ones will re-open again at a later date, so don’t worry too much if you miss out on one, or haven’t got the time.

I’m Back, Baby!

As the title of this update says; I’m back!  Everything’s been silent for a while (just over a year), which I apologize for.  Unfortunately things got busy with every day life, so I had to put everything on hold.  It was nothing major, but with a day job in the mix, time just tends to get away.  But now I’ve got myself reorganized and can pick up where I left off.

So, what’s been happening?  Well, there’s been quite a lot over the past few weeks, but over the past year not a lot.  I’ve moved into an office rather than trying to do everything from home.  Turns out working from home isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  There were far too many distractions, so I’m renting a small office through a local business.  They have a spare office that wasn’t being used, and I needed somewhere that was distraction free.  Perfect arrangement.  I’m almost completely settled into my new office.  There’s just a few other things here and there that I need to take care of, but at least now I don’t have any excuses.

I’ve been looking into and enrolling in short courses, both online and through local organisations.  Someone at work put me on to MOOCs; free online courses that are available to large groups of people.  I’ll go into more detail later, but in the meantime I suggest checking out www.mooc-list.com.  At the moment I can’t really give much feedback on how good the courses are as I’ve only just started some of them, but they’re something to check out anyway.

Well, that’s it for today’s update.  I’ll try to post something at least every week, and if I need to disappear for long periods again I’ll make an update.

See you next time.

No Post This Week

Hi everyone.  Unfortunately there is no post this week.  I’ve been a bit busy so I haven’t had time to make a how to, and there’s been little progress on the business side of things this week.  If all goes well though, I’m hoping to officially announce my business next week.  Fingers crossed.

See you next week.