There are a lot of continuing education courses out there, but how do you know which ones will actually move the needle at your IT business?
We reached out to three people – the executive director of the HBX, a successful entrepreneur, and a business coach – for the answer. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Take Classes that Teach You the Language of Business
Patrick Mullane (@Mullanetwit),
executive director of the Harvard Business School's
HBX (its online continuing education program),
says that a business owner should focus on three core classes:
- Business analytics.
- Economics for managers.
- Financial accounting.
Mullane calls these three skills "the most essential things you need to know to get started in your career" and explains that the Harvard Business School designed its CORe (Credential of Readiness) class to include these three skills.
Why are these classes so important? J. Holden Gibbons, a graduate of HBX and founder of Veterans Combating Child Hunger, explains that it's not just the skills that you learn – it's the language.
Gibbons explains that learning analytics, management, and accountings means you'll be able to talk fluently with your accountants, managers, and analysts. In other words, these classes can help you get comfortable talking shop with anyone at your company (or with any vendor you hire).
"Leadership and general management are just as important in a tech startup as they are in an established manufacturing or retail firm.” – Patrick Mullane
2. Add Dev Tools to Your Tool Belt with Online Coding Courses
John Koht (@johnkoht),
Koht explains that keeping your skills sharp (and adding new languages to your development stack) helps you build trust with clients by proving you're a versatile developer they can grow with.
There are a number of coding schools online. Code School isn't free (it costs $29 per month), but some resources like Codecademy are. In addition, Coursera offers a full suite of training, including a nine-course data science class that comes with accreditation.
Boosting your résumé with these classes can help you connect with new clients, add new sources of revenue, and make sure you're delivering top-quality code.
3. Give Your Business a “Gut Check” By Working with a Mentor
Harry Hecht (@HarryHecht) has been a
mentor for 10 years, which means he’s helped businesses at all stages of their growth improve by:
- Doing market research.
- Writing and refining their business plan.
- Building a top-to-bottom pricing model.
Hecht says that continuing educations classes provide a sort of “gut check” for new business owners. He’s often surprised by how many business owners are ready to mortgage their house and put it all on the line when they haven’t actually thought through things like their pricing model, break-even point, and long-term financial plans.
Hecht explains that taking a business class means you get to take your ideas and “run it by people who’ve actually done it.” You get to learn from someone else’s mistakes and borrow their expertise. That’s invaluable.
3 Continuing Education Takeaways for Tech Companies
No matter if you’re about to launch your business or are already five years in, continuing education can strengthen your company by:
- Teaching you the language of business.
- Sharpening your dev skills.
- Offering a reality check for your big plans.
Of course, not all business classes are equal. As Hecht suggests, make sure you find mentors and educators with real-world business experience. They’ll offer you expertise that can help your business avoid mistakes that sink so many small businesses.