Online business courses can teach you practically anything you need to know. Finance, accounting, management, content marketing, copywriting—you name it, and you can find an online course for it.
The recent exponential growth in online learning has led to a massive amount of new business courses, but that’s a double-edged sword. While it’s great to have so many options to choose from, you now have to sift through piles of sub-par courses to find the true hidden gems.
And that’s easier said than done.
Fortunately, we have a few tips to help you out. Below, we’ll walk you through 6 key things to look for when evaluating an online business course. Follow these tips, and you’ll save yourself a heap of cash and a load of time.
You can thank us later.
6 Things to Look for in the Best Online Business Courses
Not every online business course is created equally. Some are thrown together with poor structure or formats, while others are taught by instructors with little-to-no real-world experience.
Don’t waste your time on an invaluable online business course. It might save you money, but it could teach you incorrect or outdated principles that damage your business.
Instead, always look critically at these 6 things before whipping out your credit card:
Does the instructor walk the walk or talk the talk?
You don’t want the kind of teacher who shows up for class in a rented Lambo on a maxed-out credit card. You want a world-class practitioner who has done (and excelled at) what they’re teaching.
Your instructor should have well-rounded business experience with outstanding talent in at least a few areas. They don’t need to be a jack of all trades, but they should know how to start and grow a business from the ground up.
You also should like your instructor. If they’re not someone you respect and admire, you won’t trust them. And if you don’t trust them, you won’t follow their advice when the pivotal moments come.
Not everyone is cut out to create online courses, even if they’re a self-made million-dollar success. Instructors can’t just know the material—they need to know how to teach it.
Do you want to learn from a talking head, slides, or a combination of both? Do you want the course to be filmed from someone’s iPhone or desktop computer, or would you prefer full-on studio production quality?
The style matters, and don’t convince yourself it doesn’t.
Most online business courses will take you weeks or months to finish. If you don’t find the course’s style interesting and engaging, you won’t complete it. Simple as that.
Instead, you’ll do what most college students do: skip class, cram for exams, and “pass” without being any better off than when you started.
Rough, we know—but that’s just the way it is.
If a course offers a preview or sample, give it a go to see if your learning style matches the course’s teaching style.
What extra resources does the course provide? Look for things like workbooks, cheat sheets, checklists, and downloadable PDFs.
Also, look for other engagement elements. Can you ask the instructor questions? Will you get feedback on your assignments? Can you interact with other participants in the course?
The best online business courses will direct you to high-quality sources to further your learning. For example, they might not be able to go into detail about every term they use in the class, but they should be able to point you in the right direction if you want to learn more.
What outcomes does the course promise? Do they align with your goals?
For example, some online business courses promise a high-paying job or a fast track up the corporate ladder. Others highlight the completion certificate that you’ll be able to add to your LinkedIn profile or resume. And a few focus on the real-world skills you’ll learn to help you build your own business.
There’s no right or wrong answer here, but you want to find a course that delivers what you need.
Most students look for lengthier courses, but longer isn’t always better. While you might be getting more content, that doesn’t mean more bang for your buck.
Imagine one course promises to teach you content marketing with 30 hours of video instruction, and another promises you the same thing with just 5 hours of video instruction. Naturally, you’d lean towards the beefier course—especially if they’re both the same price.
However, most of these super-long courses don’t deliver more value. They just stretch out the content—which means you have to waste more time to gain the same level of learning.
When it comes to length, be skeptical. Longer isn’t better.
6. Publish Date
Timeliness matters when it comes to education, especially with business courses. Yesterday’s content marketing tactics may not work today, and Instagram might not even have the same features 12 months from now.
Check when the course was published, and also check how often it gets updated. A 5-year-old lecture might still be relevant if the instructor regularly adds, edits, and removes content.
Read more: Is an MBA Worth It?
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