7 of the Best Free Online Business Classes for Aspiring Entrepreneurs


7 of the Best Free Online Business Classes for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
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Want to start a business but don’t know where to start? A little education can go a long way, especially when it’s free.

Here are seven great online classes for aspiring entrepreneurs–from some of the top business schools in the country.

Becoming an Entrepreneur

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

What will you learn?

  • How to overcome the most common myths of entrepreneurship
  • How to define your goals as an entrepreneur and a startup
  • How to identify business opportunities
  • How to conduct market research and choose your target customer
  • How to design and test your offering
  • How to pitch and sell to customers

Time involved: Six weeks, approximately one to three hours per week.

How to Start a Startup

Stanford (Sam Altman)

More a series of videos than a class, “How to Start a Startup” covers a wide range of topics–and includes startup founders like Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn), Emmett Shear (Just.tv and Twitch), Marc Andreessen (Netscape), Aaron Levie (Box), and Paul Graham (Y Combinator.)

What will you learn?

  • How to build a team
  • How to build a product and talk to users
  • How to raise money
  • How to build a great culture
  • How to build services that scale
  • How to manage, operate, and be a great founder

Time involved: 20 videos, approximately 50 minutes each.

Nuts and Bolts of Business Plans

Sloan School of Management (MIT)

Maybe you won’t need a business plan–plenty of people argue you don’t. Or that your business plan will start changing the first week. 

Even so, understanding the basics of a business plan will definitely help bring focus to your idea and your first steps–so what better than the course that has been taken by every MIT MBA student for over two decades?

What will you learn?

  • How to refine and present your idea
  • How to create marketing and sales plans
  • How to choose the right business model
  • How to develop financial projections
  • How to plan for legal, accounting, copyright, etc. issues
  • How to execute your plan

Time involved: Six videos of approximately an hour each, plus extensive lecture notes and supplemental material (if you want more).

Launching Your Startup

Wharton (University of Pennsylvania)

Ideas are great…but execution is everything. A great idea and a solid plan is a given; the next step is to put it into action.

What will you learn?

  • How to build a minimum viable product (MVP)
  • How to build a team
  • How to build a network: advisers, mentors, professional service providers, etc.
  • How to create a brand
  • How to bring your brand to market

Time involved: Self-paced, approximately eight hours.

Growth Strategies

Wharton (University of Pennsylvania)

Once you’ve launched, you’ll need to grow–especially if you’re bootstrapping your way to success and financing your startup with the revenue you generate.

What will you learn?

  • How to land customers
  • How to use earned, paid, and owned marketing as efficiently as possible
  • How to build cost and pricing structures
  • How to develop and track the right key performance indicators (KPIs) for your business
  • How to build a great culture–and maintain it as your startup grows

Time involved: Self-paced, approximately seven hours.

Financing and Profitability

Wharton (University of Pennsylvania)

How do you make a small fortune? Begin with a large fortune and start a (insert your favorite startup money pit here).

Because a business without (eventual) profits isn’t really a business.

What will you learn?

  • How to develop the right business models
  • How to keep your best customers
  • How to determine the right financing for your business (even if “financing” just means your savings)
  • How to calculate burn rate, break-even point, and other key financial metrics and milestones
  • How to pitch investors
  • How to decide when the time is right, and under what terms, to exit.

Time involved: Self-paced, approximately six hours.

Professional Resilience: Building Skills to Thrive at Work

Deakin University

You can learn business and entrepreneurial skills from a wide variety of sources. But who will teach you how to stay the course when times get tough, as times inevitably do?

For starters, these folks.

What will you learn?

  • How to follow a few simple steps to become more resilient
  • How to develop specific skills to deal with difficult situations
  • How to perform a little self-care to recharge your resiliency batteries
  • How to apply resiliency frameworks to professional and personal situations

Time involved: Two weeks, approximately three hours per week.JUL 21, 2020Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you’ll never miss a post.The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.