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Six steps to turning what you learn into a start-up success

It’s the online student’s dream: turning a new skill into a profitable business. Thanks to the power of online learning, this can be a reality.

Sydney Embray
31st May 2016
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Not only is there a course for every step of the process, you also have a community of other online learners who have turned their studies into profits.  Even if a dream is all you have, we’ve got the courses and the tips to help put you on your way to running a successful start-up.

Learn a new skill

If you haven’t done so already, learn a new skill.  It can be anything from cookery to carpentry to hairdressing to web design—choose something you’re passionate about and people will notice.  Once you’ve studied up and become an expert, you can start to explore business options relating to your skill.

Fill a need

The first step to starting that business is to make sure your business fills an existing need that no one else is servicing.  In other words, you shouldn’t start an online cupcake delivery service if there are already three cupcake delivery services in your area—even if you really love baking and your cupcakes are superior, it will cost too much and take too long for you to catch up to your competitors and you could go out of business.  On the other hand, if your area is full of people with cupcake habits, a personal-trainer-for-hire service or health-food catering might be one way to go.

Fund your idea

While you can start many online businesses for less than £1,500, your business may require funding.  A course in business finance will make you an expert on the project-financing process (which can benefit you and your business in the long-run); you can also crowd-fund, seek out venture capitalists or angel investors, or look for investors in your own network of friends, colleagues, and family.

Set up shop


Just like a traditional business needs four walls and a front door, your online business needs a place to call home.  While you might create products or run your service in your home, your customers will find you through the internet, so your web presence should reflect the quality of your business.  Take a web design course to learn how to build your dream website yourself, use a web hosting platform, or hire a professional.  Remember, your website may be all of your business a visitor ever sees.  Impress them, and you’ve got a lead on a potential lifetime customer.

Write compelling copy

Now that you’ve offered your product or service and set up your online hub, start building your influence.  Add a blog section to your site and start churning out high quality, informative, and (most importantly) free content.  The higher quality and more informative content you produce, the more respected in online communities your voice will become, and the fact that it’s free will build trust between you and your customers.  This trust-based relationship will turn into leads, which can turn into sales down the road.  Not a natural writer?  A copywriting course can help you tune into your inner marketer.

Market product/service online

This is all fine—but how do you get views in the first place?  Online marketing is the best way to help your potential customers find you.  By taking a course you can learn how to harness the power of search engines, ads, email, and social media and use it to your advantage.  A good place to start?  Make sure your business has a Facebook page and post links to your content and site at least once daily.

The business side

Ask any small business owner or creative-turned-entrepreneur and they’ll probably tell you their least favourite part of the workday is spent on the ‘business side’.  Keeping the books isn’t necessarily the most fun part of owning your own business, but it’s a highly important job.  If your accountancy skills aren’t quite where you’d like them to be, consider taking a course.  Not only will you gain confidence with your records, but you’ll be able to analyse the data yourself to see where you could improve your business plan or operations.

The final step?  Enjoy it.  

Have we inspired you?  Browse entrepreneurship courses here and get your venture off the ground.

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