There’s no miracle solution for success as an entrepreneur: you have to go for it, try, fail, learn, and go back in the ring. But experience is not always enough; often good business knowledge helps the journey.
For a few years now, you don’t need to go to a business school anymore to get this education. Anyone, anywhere can follow free online classes taught by teachers from the best universities in the world. Thoses classes are the MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courseware) we’ve heard so much about lately. Some are self-paced and can be started whenever it suits; others are more like traditional university classes with a set calendar, team assignments, and homework. But if you missed the last offering of a desired class, no need to worry; seeing their popularlty, you can bet there will be another session soon.
Here is a selection of 5 classes that could help or inspire any beginning or established entrepreneur.
Foundations of Business Strategy, by Michael J. Lenox, University of Virginia
This class could well be called Strategy 101: you’ll be introduced to the theories and the frameworks you need to analyze and conduct your strategy, and you’ll be provided with the tools for analyzing a market’s advantages and shortcomings, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of your brand.
This course lasts eight weeks and requires 5 to 6 hours of work per week. Close to 18,000 students are taking the class at the moment.
Register on Coursera.
Technology Entrepreneurship Part 1, by Chuck Eesley, Stanford
Several entrepreneurs have admitted that this class alone inspired them to launch their startup. In this MOOC, Stanford professor Chuck Eesley presents the basics of technology entrepreneurship, presenting specific processes entrepreneurs can use to start companies, and running through how to take a technology idea, find a high-potential commercial opportunity, gather resources such as talent and capital, figure out how to sell and market the idea, and manage rapid growth. Students are required to work in teams; top teams are matched with Silicon Valley mentors.
The fifth session will start in October. Overall, 120,000
students have taken this class, some arguing
that it was life-changing, others much less satisfied.
This course requires 10 hours of work per week.
Register on NovoEd
New Models of Business in Society, by R. Edward Freeman , University of Virginia
R. Edward Freeman is considered as the father of the "stakeholder theory”. Good, because it’s what this class is about. Freeman will show show how almost every business creates or destroys value for customers, suppliers, employees, communities and society, in addition to shareholders and other financiers. He will explain how profits and stakeholder’s interests can go together, thanks to new models of business such as corporate responsibility, philanthropy, shared value and sustainability. This a rather theoritical class and this course explains how. The final session explores the idea of how to become a stakeholder entrepreneur and create a business that makes money and makes the world a better place.
This course lasts five weeks and requires 2 to 3 hours of work per week.
Register on Coursera
Lead like an entrepreneur, by David Bradford and Allan Cohen, Babson College
Bradford and Cohen, two lecturers at Babson College, a leading American university when it comes to entrepreneurship, will focus, for their first MOOC class, on leadership for entrepreneurs.
Of course, leadership implies interaction; this class will requires both personal work and group work. Get ready for some role play and feedback sessions, and prepare to attempt to influence someone in order to accomplish your goals.
This course will start on October 15 and will require 2 to 3 hours of work per week.
Register on NovoEd.
How to Build Your Startup, Steve Blank
Steve Blank is a reknowned entrepreneur and writer who teaches several well-known American universities. In this class, he teaches key tools and steps for building a successful startup. This class is an introduction to the basics of his famous Customer Development process, where entrepreneurs "get out of the building" to gather massive amounts of customer data and marketplace feedback, which they then use to iterate and evolve their business models to improve their chances of success.
This course can be started whenever you feel like it and is self-paced.
Register on Udacity
Bonus: If you want to impress developers and geek entrepreneurs, I suggest this class: it’s on the physics, psychology, and social implications of zombies!
Have you taken a MOOC? Do you have any recommendation?
This article has been written with the help of Chadi Nanaa.