As a first-time entrepreneur or business owner, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the plethora of advice, books, blogs, and ideas on how to start and manage a business. There's lots of good content out there. The difficult part is separating the good from the bad.
Buffer to the rescue! We scoured the internet and curated a list of free and low-cost online resources, including blogs, courses, books, and podcasts to help you learn how to launch and run a business. Bookmark this list, and return to it again and again as your business evolves.
Blogs to keep you up to date
Blogs are a great learning resource because you can find up-to-date and relevant information about growing your business. Here are some blogs that consistently provide brilliant ideas and tips on entrepreneurship.
Seth Godin is the author of multiple books on innovation and marketing and is considered one of the best marketers of our age. On his blog, you'll find features on branding, business development and strategy, and lots of marketing advice for small owners and startup founders.
Recommended Post: Understanding business development
This blog post is all about how important business development is and what it does. Seth also includes six real-world examples of business development and 12 tips on how to do it better.
Wix is a website-building platform that allows you to build a code-free website. It's perfect for small business owners who are on a budget or who lack technical skills. Their blog has plenty of web design inspiration, online marketing tips, and step-by-step guides to help you create a website that powers your business.
Recommended Post: 10 Tactics for Getting Site Visitors Faster
Building an audience and driving traffic to their website is a challenge many small business owners face. This article gives a range of tactics to help you quickly build a steady stream of traffic to your website.
Our library has hundreds of articles and comprehensive guides to help small businesses level up their social media and marketing skills. From tips and tricks to help you master each social media platform to lists of tools to help you grow your business online, you’re sure to find something to help you no matter how new your business is.
Recommended Post:The No-Fluff Small Business Marketing Guide for Entrepreneurs with Big Dreams
This step-by-step guide is perfect for small business owners who want to grow their business online without wasting time and money.
Shopify is a well-known eCommerce platform for setting up an online store. Their blog is filled with great resources on eCommerce marketing, running an online business, and, of course, updates about Shopify's eCommerce offerings.
Recommended Post: How to Turn Around a Struggling Business: Tips and Real-Life Examples
Not every business that struggles ends up failing. This post has real-life examples and tips from entrepreneurs who were able to revive their dying businesses.
Online courses to elevate your skills
Online courses are great for busy small business owners because they offer greater flexibility than in-person classes. The courses below will help you understand various aspects of your business better, and they include leadership, goal setting, sales, and SEO. They are free or are available at a low cost.
Length: 1 hour
Price: Available with a monthly Skillshare membership of $13.99
Whether you're considering ditching the 9-to-5 to become a business owner or launching a side hustle, this course will help point you in the right direction. It includes short, digestible online lessons that show you how to find your purpose, cultivate your passion, and develop your big idea.
Length: 3 months (self-paced)
In this course, you will learn from five entrepreneurs who have grown their online stores to seven figures. They lay out the exact systems, frameworks, and processes that they used to scale their businesses.
Length: 1 hour
If you want more website visitors, then you need to understand Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This course is for eCommerce entrepreneurs who want to learn the fundamentals fast. And in just one hour, you will have a thorough understanding of SEO concepts.
Length: 4 weeks (suggested pace of 2–3 hours/week)
A strong sense of leadership is an essential trait, whether you're managing a small team or running a mid-sized business. This course teaches those leadership skills. You will have the chance to learn everything from complex problem solving to relationship formation and proper management techniques.
Books/eBooks to expand your knowledge
Books are a great way to learn from the experiences of others. They explore ideas in more depth and have stricter editorial standards than blogs. Below is a selection of good reads that offer practical insights from top business strategists and entrepreneurs.
Want to know whether your business or startup idea will be the next big thing? Author Thomas K. McKnight covers the 44 key elements required for a business to succeed based on the author's analysis of more than 200 startups. By the end, you should have a clear idea of your chances of success.
In this book, Ben Horowitz helps you deal with the tough day-to-day aspects of running a business, and he includes plenty of advice on everything from finding great hires to managing people and firing employees.
Burnout is a serious issue among entrepreneurs and small business owners. This book by Michael E. Gerber shows you how to develop a system that will have your business running on its own instead of running you.
A good business owner also needs to know how to be a good leader. Author Sydney Finkelstein analyzes the personalities of the world's most effective leaders and how they motivate and inspire others. The result is an actionable, advice-packed book to help you grow, motivate, and lead your team.
Podcasts to inspire and motivate you
Too busy to sit down and read an article or a book? Then why not listen to a podcast instead? Podcasts are great because, depending on your schedule, you can squeeze in a listen during your morning commute, while you exercise, walk the dog, or even while you get ready for the day. Podcasts also often have guests, so you get to hear a wide range of different perspectives. Here are some great podcasts that include stories and lessons from startup founders.
Every big business started small, and Guy Raz's How I Built This tells the stories behind some of the world's most popular brands, from Wikipedia to Ben & Jerry's and Beyond Meat.
Recommended episode: Airbnb: Joe Gebbia
Airbnb founder Joe Gebbia is an excellent example of how to remain persistent in the face of rejection. Our favorite quote from the episode is, "We were introduced to 20 investors in Silicon Valley. Ten replied to our email. Five met us for coffee. Zero invested in us."
Our very own podcast series shares inspiration from extraordinary small business owners and wisdom on how they run their businesses.
Recommended episode: Getting better at staying small
You don't have to be a big business to make a huge impact. In this episode, Shawn Askinosie of Askinosie Chocolate talks to us about running a profitable small business that supports children in Tanzania and the Philippines.
In Masters of Scale, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman tests and discusses his theories about business with leading entrepreneurs. It’s perfect for businesses interested in hyper-growth, but the podcast also touches on other topics like leadership, strategy, management, and fundraising.
Recommended episode: Customer love is all you need, w/Y Combinator's Sam Altman
With Sam Altman, the head of Y Combinator as a guest host, this episode unpacks the concept that it's "better to have 100 users who love you than 1 million who kinda like you." They discuss how you can scale a business with a product that's deeply loved — even by a small base of users.
This podcast is great for anyone in a small business looking to learn more about marketing. The episodes are each about 20 minutes long and cover SEO, email marketing, social media, and copywriting.
Recommended episode: The Future of Influencer Marketing
If you've ever considered working with an influencer to market your business, then this episode is for you! Vivien Garnes, co-founder and CEO of Upfluence, talks about best practices and the future of influencer marketing.
The best small business resource? Real-life practice
We've shared some great small business resources to help you learn how to start, manage, and grow your startup venture or business. But at the end of the day, real-life experience is the best teacher. So we encourage you to get out there and start that business or side hustle you've always dreamed of or continue scaling it for success. And no matter what stage you're at in your entrepreneurial journey, you can always rely on our tools to help, whether it's for creating a beautiful landing page for your business or scheduling and optimizing your social media posts.