This page arranges OCW entrepreneurship courses into six topics: Finance, Law, Leadership, Marketing / Planning, Operations, and Strategy. Each topic is described briefly in the top part of this page, with links to each course list as it appears in the lower part. Recommended starter courses are also called out, with links to their course homepages.
An Entrepreneur is almost always "resource constrained," and the resource that entrepreneurs always worry about is money. Although raising money is never easy, it is not necessarily as difficult as people think. Entrepreneurs need to understand the sources of funding for entrepreneurial ventures and the rules by which these sources operate.
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We recommend that you start with 15.431 Entrepreneurial Finance, which addresses key questions that challenge all entrepreneurs: How much money can and should be raised? When should it be raised, and from whom? What is a reasonable valuation of the company?
Next consider 15.391 Early Stage Capital, which focuses on the strategy as well as the tactics involved in negotiating and building effective, long-term relationships with investors, particularly venture capitalists, in extremely difficult funding environments.
You can then explore the finance course offerings that deal with operating the company.
An entrepreneur needs to acquire a basic understanding of the law and how it can help to build and protect the value of the business. But an entrepreneur also has to worry about legal rules that can undermine success if not properly addressed.
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The OCW law offerings are not designed to make you a lawyer. Rather, they provide guidance to make you a better consumer of legal services. Keep in mind that the law changes over time and that legal matters are always very fact-specific. The information presented in these courses is no substitute for the advice of an experienced attorney.
We recommend that you start with 15.615 Law for the Entrepreneur and Manager, which begins by providing the basic building blocks of business law and then follows a company through its life cycle from its "breakaway" from an established firm through its initial public offering.
For technology-based entrepreneurs, we next recommend 6.901 Inventions and Patents, which covers the patent system and explains how to obtain patents. This should then be followed by 15.628 Patents, Copyrights, and the Law of Intellectual Property, which explores the other areas of intellectual property law that can add value to a venture's business.
Persons interested in new product development will want to explore 15.616 Innovative Businesses and Breakthrough Technologies - The Legal Issues.
It's all about the people. Most ventures that fail do so because of people issues, not technology, market, or funding issues. This is where leadership comes in.
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We recommend that you start with 15.394 Designing and Leading the Entrepreneurial Organization. For many entrepreneurs, the most pressing questions (aside from those about financing) are about how to locate and recruit talented people, how to manage and keep them, and how to build a high-growth, long-term, sustainable firm. This course addresses these questions and provides you with a number of critical concepts and competencies that will be useful to you in both the short and long term.
There are different leadership styles that work in different situations. Understanding your personal leadership strengths and weaknesses is important in determining whether you can be effective in a given situation. 15.974 Practical Leadership will help you make a self-assessment of your leadership capabilities.
"We're here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?" Steve Jobs said famously. A true entrepreneur does something that has not been done before, using resources over which he or she has no direct control. Although some might argue that Steve Jobs was very much in control, the reality is that changing the world involves a constant process of negotiating for resources and attention. In short, entrepreneurs are always negotiating. 15.665B Power and Negotiation focuses both on the analytic tools necessary to become a highly successful negotiator and on the relationship-building skills necessary to negotiate deals that will enhance your social capital and your ability to lead others.
If you don't have customers, you don't have a business. For whom do you create value? Will these people pay for that value, or can you monetize the value created? These are the core questions for marketing an entrepreneurial venture. The answers to these questions will determine whether you can have a successful venture.
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15.835 Entrepreneurial Marketing introduces key marketing concepts, methods, and strategic issues relevant for start-up and early-stage entrepreneurs. In this course, the major questions can be gathered into two conceptual areas: (1) What am I selling? How am I selling it? And to whom am I selling it? (2) How do I best leverage my limited marketing recourses?
15.390 New Enterprises covers the process of identifying and quantifying market opportunities, then conceptualizing, planning, and starting a new, technology-based enterprise. Students learn the process of how to create an innovation-based new venture.
Marketing research may be divided into methods that emphasize understanding "the customer" and methods that emphasize understanding "the market." 15.821 Listening to the Customer deals with the customer and emphasizes qualitative methods (interviews, focus groups, the voice of the customer, composing questions for a survey). The companion course 15.822 Strategic Marketing Measurement deals with the market and emphasizes quantitative methods (sampling, survey execution, quantitative data interpretation, conjoint analysis, factor analysis).
Finally, your customer and market research have to come together in a business plan, which describes what value you are going to create, for whom, what resources you will need, and how you are going to make money or be successful. For over 20 years MIT students have taken 15.S21 Nuts and Bolts of Business Plans, and many of them have gone on to launch successful businesses.
"Good ideas are a dime a dozen—it is execution that matters." The idea of selling books online occurred to many people, but Amazon succeeded in becoming the largest online book seller and changed the book industry. Among the reasons for Amazon's success was its innovative operations model.
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15.351 Managing Innovation and Entrepreneurship examines innovation-based strategies as a source of competitive advantage and then explores how to build organizations that excel at identifying, building, and commercializing technological innovations.
The concepts and techniques for design, planning, and control of manufacturing and service operations are explored in 15.760B Introduction to Operations Management, which should be followed by 15.761 Operations Management. The subject matter of this latter course is presented in five modules: (1) Operations Analysis, (2) Coordination and Planning, (3) Quality Management, (4) Project Management, and (5) Logistics and Supply Chain Management.
Once you have mastered the basics of operations you can explore more specialized courses such as 15.783J Product Design and Development and 15.768 Management of Services: Concepts, Design and Delivery.
Strategy is about understanding where the organization is now, where it wants to be, and how it can get there.
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15.902 Strategic Management I is an introduction to strategic management focusing on important current issues and concentrating on modern analytical approaches and on enduring successful strategic practices.
15.963 Advanced Strategy draws on a wide range of perspectives to explore the roots of long-term competitive advantage in unusually successful firms. Using a combination of cases, simulations, readings, and, most importantly, lively discussion, the course explores the ways in which long-term advantage is built from first-mover advantage, increasing returns, and unique organizational competencies. It focuses particularly on the ways in which the actions of senior management build competitive advantage over time, and on the strategic implications of understanding the roots of a firm's success.
Those interested in ventures in which technology plays a major role should explore 15.912 Technology Strategy, which focuses on the acquisition of a set of powerful analytical tools that are critical for the development of a technology strategy as an integral part of business strategy. These tools provide the framework for deciding which technologies to invest in, how to structure those investments, and how to anticipate and respond to the behavior of competitors, suppliers, and customers.
|Course #||Course Title||Level|
|15.391||Early Stage Capital||Graduate|
|15.395||Entrepreneurship Without Borders||Graduate|
|15.963||Management Accounting and Control||Graduate|