Top universities across the nation have been offering free online classes for years, but these classes have just recently begun to catch the attention of independent learners. For students and lifelong learners who are considering a startup venture, free resources and classes are plentiful and they can make a big difference when it comes time to launch your startup. These intensive, high-quality classes could help springboard your big idea into reality.
Offered by the open courseware branch of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, this course examines funding during the early stages of company development. Students will learn how to calculate the value of a company and to budget startup costs. The course also discusses different sources of funding and how founders should proceed once the business model stabilizes. This class offers a comprehensive study of the private equity industry, which makes it beneficial to both budding entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. The prerequisite for this class, Finance Theory, can also be found on the MIT open courseware site.
Steve Blank has taught at Stanford, Berkeley and Columbia; and on September 14, he will teach his first free online class at Udacity. Blank is a former entrepreneur and is most well-known for his “lean startup” concept. This class will teach entrepreneurs to take advantage of the flexible beginning stages of their startups by shaping a business model in response to client feedback. With an emphasis on customer development and marketplace feedback, the lean startup model is designed to improve a business’s chance for success by activating, engaging and responding to the target audience.
Innovation is a key element of entrepreneurship, and for rapidly evolving industries, innovation is vital to maintaining a competitive edge. This course discusses the challenges of building an organization that is flexible enough to promote innovation and insightful enough to pursue profitable ventures. Students will become familiar with the four aspects of innovation: exploring, executing, leveraging and renewing innovation.
Most entrepreneurs face the challenge of limited marketing resources, and this course will teach students how to evaluate these resources and leverage them to appeal to their target audiences. Some of the topics discussed in this graduate-level course are identifying opportunities, gaining a competitive advantage and choosing the right marketing tools. By the end of the course, students should be better prepared to respond to a variety of marketing problems with tailored solutions.
This course is not to teach legal skills, but is instead meant to provide entrepreneurs and managers with the good judgment that accompanies an awareness of legal responsibilities and limitations. In addition to common issues such as intellectual property and product development, the class teaches the legality of organization and financing a company.
Karen Smith, a former newspaper reporter and globe trotter, now writes for various publications and websites. After obtaining an online business degree, Karen began writing about finance and entrepreneurial news. Karen welcomes your comments below!