self-employed woman

8 valuable courses and resources for small businesses and self-employed types

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Your guide to the courses, newsletters, podcasts, books and communities that will help make your business soar…

When you’re running your own thing, there is SO MUCH TO DO – from invoicing to social posts to networking to trying not to puke at the thought of networking – that it can be hard to carve out time for actually learning stuff on the way. Of course, you’re learning all the time when you’re building a biz – whether that’s a biz selling vintage teapots or your own niche expertise – but sometimes it will take you weeks or months to figure something out that might have been more straightforward if you had known who to trust for advice. We speak from experience, here: we’ve launched Discoco around day jobs, with very little cash, and we’re very much learning on the job. Admittedly it helps that we now have a wonderful catalogue of course creators at our fingertips who are all experts in their field and are also full of recommendations of great stuff.

With this in mind, for our fellow whateverpreneurs, we thought we’d round up some of the best resources we’ve found to level up your knowledge – or just keep you company – on your quest to become a unicorn (whether by unicorn you mean billion dollar company or an actual unicorn. Both would be cool). 

THE PR COURSE

Ugh, PR. You want it but you hate it, right? When the commodity is you, or a product or service you’ve lovingly crafted yourself, getting the brilliance across in the best way to secure coverage can be excruciating. Why does nobody think you’re as interesting as you know you are? This is why we’re very glad people like Ann Fiona Martin exist – she runs our PR In A Week course and it’s an exceedingly valuable investment, especially if you’re a long way off being able to pay a fancy agency to tout your wares. 

THE BRAND BIBLE

If a course feels out of reach right now too, no drama – how about dropping a tenner on a book instead? Lucy Werner’s Hype Yourself is full of insider knowledge and practical tips on making your business famous. We’d recommend following her on Instagram too for more regular nuggets of wisdom. 

THE ANTIDOTE TO LONELINESS

If, like us, you have a trusty co-founder who’s all up in your WhatsApp messages 24/7, loneliness is probably a distant and fantastical concept, but if you’re in the self-employed game as a lone wolf and you’re finding it tricky, check out Jo Carnegie’s workshops on working alone. Loneliness has been an issue for freelancers since the dawn of time (no wonder all those cavepreneurs looked so angry) but it’s only because of the pesky pandemic that people are now really talking about it, and we’re glad they are. 

THE FREELANCE FRIENDS IN YOUR INBOX

We’ve recently signed up to a whole raft of newsletters aimed at self-employed/freelance/start-uppy types, but these are our two faves: Out Of Office by Lizzy Dening and Lance by Anna Codrea-Rado – both have a friendly, inclusive tone and feel like mini-magazines, plus we end up finding out about loads of other cool stuff via them and generally falling down a rabbit hole of excellent content that we can vaguely pass off as work, which is the whole point of newsletters, right? Highly recommended.

THE VIRTUAL SISTERHOOD 

Jaz Broughton’s Career Clubhouse course isn’t specifically for small businesses and freelancers, but we feel like that’s who can benefit from it the most – after all, when you work for a big company, there are generally more development opportunities in house, but when you’re your own boss, they can be hard to come by. With Jaz’s membership, you get three of our favourite Cs: no, not chocolate, cats and Chinese food, but coaching, community and connection.  

THE DIGITAL GURUS

If you’re not technically inclined, sorting out your online presence can be one of the most stressful parts of running a business – but the experts in Discoco’s Ace It section are here to help: whether you need to build a website, get your head around making videos or jazz up your Instagram presence, they’ve got you covered. Ultimately, when you’re a mega-successful business legend swanning around doing Ted Talks, you’ll be able to outsource the bits you really struggle with, but in the absence of the cash to splash on tech wizardry, learning how to master the basics for yourself is probably the best investment you can make.   

THE MAGAZINE

Important announcement: actual printed paper is still a thing and we like it very much. Courier magazine is aimed at entrepreneurs and side-hustlers and is an incredibly useful resource, whether self-employed life is a dream or something you’re in the thick of right now. Courier also do various events, emails and what-not, but it’s the magazine itself that will look nicest perched on your coffee table.  A subscription would make a brill present for any aspiring biz owners in your life too.

THE SELF-EMPLOYED PARENT COMMUNITY

For a lot of people, becoming a parent coincides with a big career change, with many people conceiving a business on top of their little one (sometimes literally – many a laptop has been balanced on a sleeping baby’s bum). Sure, ultimately being your own boss brings more flexibility, but – spoiler alert – in many ways it’s actually more stressful than having a job: this is why you need communities like Doing It For The Kids where everybody understands. Alongside a super-useful and buzzy Facebook group, there’s a nice chatty podcast to keep you company with highly relatable themes like “When people think your job is a hobby”.

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