If you’re new to the world of business, it’s understandable if you feel overwhelmed with all there is to learn. As you’re looking to become more familiar with the basics of becoming an entrepreneur, you may be wondering what are the best business courses to take?

We’ll outline some of the key business topics you should consider as you’re setting up your business as well as discuss whether paid courses are necessarily better than free ones in this article. Discover:

  • Business topics you should focus on
  • Where can you take business courses?
  • Are paid courses better than free ones?
  • Start your business the right way with a simple app

At Countingup, we want to help new entrepreneurs meet the challenges of their industry and simplify their entry into the business world. Find out more about how you can learn more about business basics and ways to save time as you get set up.

Business topics you should focus on

Across all the business courses you can choose from, it’s best to take a general view of business topics and learn as much as possible as you’re starting out. This can be particularly useful as you can learn what you need to at the start and use what you’ve learned to meet newer challenges later on or come back to build on what you already know more easily. 

Similarly, you may also find important elements related to the topics you’re searching for but didn’t know existed. For this reason, taking a broad view of all the elements of business can help you stay well informed and avoid mistakes long term.

Product development

Your offer to customers lies at the heart of what your business is: customers buy it because it’s valuable  – which is why it’s a good idea to learn how you can improve your product or service even further. This can help consolidate your value proposition to customers in the long-term and allow you to raise your value (and prices) along the way.

Developing a product is very different from doing the same for a service as they’re fundamentally opposing business models. And so, it’s worth investing in how to learn the finer points of what to consider and how to develop each to grow your business with more insight.


Strong legal agreements are vital to businesses: contracts help businesses and customers trust one another and statutory laws help keep the UK business environment fair and safe for everyone involved.

Your business will interact with the law when signing insurance agreements, working for customers or even how you advertise. You don’t have to be a fully qualified lawyer to navigate legal situations well, so finding a course that can equip you with the basics is crucial. 

Marketing and communications

You’re probably familiar with the fundamentals of advertising. As you go about your daily life, you’ll come across social media posts, radio and TV adverts and the occasional flyer all featuring business offers. 

Despite this, do you know which is the most effective for your business or its target market? Learning how to advertise effectively is worth nearly every penny you spend as you can expect to see direct returns.

That’s not all, though – don’t forget about the finer points of communication with your customers. Beyond having a catchy slogan, navigating tricky customer service situations with empathy and professionalism can make sure your business has a good reputation.

Accounting and tax

This one should be a no-brainer. Whether you’re looking to work out your profit from your profit margin or finance your business with asset depreciation in mind, having a familiarity with accountancy and tax requirements can help you stay tax compliant and make every penny work for you.

Where can you take business courses?

Business courses are available in various forms at colleges and universities near you. With funding and loans available to new learners, you can receive a high-quality education and pay back anything you owe as you earn.

Unfortunately, even with institutions like the Open University offering access to any learner regardless of prior qualifications, taking the college or university route can take time and effort away from starting your business as you learn. While this more traditional learning route provides the most credibility to what you’ve learned by far (including as you choose to mention it to investors and lenders), it could be considered an expensive and overly detailed option to take.

Other resources are available to help you learn many of the same topics with a reasonable amount of detail maintained for free or cheaper. Whether this is through free access courses provided by the same colleges or universities near you, your local library or online resources like Future Learn, Coursera, Skillshare, and Countingup, the fundamentals of business are available to you in many ways. 

Are paid courses better than free ones?

Paid courses (whether in the form of tuition fees to a university/college or an online educational platform), go some way to provide assurances about the quality and credibility of what you learn. This is especially true as you try to learn more niche or applied topics that require a skilled teacher to deliver.

Yet, plenty of the basics of many fields of business education are available for free. Some more credible options include your local library which can help you access university-level textbooks for free or business bloggers and educators on some of the previous platforms mentioned above. 

In this sense, ‘better’ is relative: if you’d like assurances and help with the topics as you learn then, you’ll almost certainly need to pay someone for their time and expertise. However, don’t underestimate how much you can achieve on your own by doing your own research and homework to learn what you need for your success.

Start your business the right way with Countingup

If you’re looking to save time and keep organised when it comes to your business finances, start your business the right way with Countingup.

Countingup is the business current account and accounting software in one app. It automates time-consuming bookkeeping admin for self-employed people across the UK. With automatic expense categorisation, receipt capture tools and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances and save yourself hours of accounting admin, so you can focus on doing what you do best. Find out more here and sign up for free today.