This course will introduce you to entrepreneurship and business planning. By way of introduction, the word entrepreneur originates from the French word entreprendre, meaning to undertake. Today, we define an entrepreneur as an owner or manager of a business enterprise who attempts to make profits by starting and growing his or her business. In earnest, entrepreneurs are a diverse group of risk-takers who share the same goal of cultivating ideas and developing them into viable business opportunities. Take a quick look at the statistics below to get a sense for some of the (potentially surprising) qualities that have been attributed to entrepreneurs.
- According to a recent report by the US Census, every day approximately 2,356 Americans are becoming entrepreneurs by starting new businesses.
- According to 2006 report from Northeastern University's School of Technological Entrepreneurship, 62% of entrepreneurs in the US claim innate drive as the number one motivator in starting their business.
- According to a January 2008 report by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, women run 33% of small businesses.
- Lastly, according to an October 2006 report by Northeastern University's School of Technological Entrepreneurship, 42% of entrepreneurs say they launched their first ventures during childhood (i.e., via a lemonade stand, paper route, etc.).
Unit 1: Elements of Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurs assume the risk of creating an enterprise that will provide them with a return on the capital employed. In this introductory unit, we will look more closely at small business creation and the history and evolution of entrepreneurship. You will study various economists and their theories, assess entrepreneurial characteristics, and learn about the phases of the entrepreneurial process. Finally, you will review ethics and social responsibility as they relate to entrepreneurship before evaluating methods for launching a business geared towards your target market.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 7 hours.
Unit 2: Building the Right Team
Building an effective management team is one of the primary steps in launching a venture. Entrepreneurs must explore their personal strengths and weaknesses and then determine the resources needed to fill the gaps. Successful businesses require not only stellar executives and advisors but also employees who are a good fit for the company. Thus, anyone tasked with managing a group of people needs to know how to be an effective leader. Relative to successful leadership, managing is easy.
A manager must be able to delegate responsibility and make decisions for the team, but a leader must be able to influence team behavior. For this reason, motivation is one of the most powerful tools that a leader can use. A motivated team will be able to go above and beyond the call of duty. Using motivation is far from manipulation - just look at one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
This unit will help you distinguish between management and leadership and will also explore human resource factors, such as recruitment and staff selection. The unit will also discuss employee assessments, emotional intelligence, and Tuckman's Stages of Group Development.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 16 hours.
Unit 3: The Business Plan
A strong business plan is one of the foundations of a successful business. It is the tool by which a great idea becomes an opportunity. It is the creative process that allows the entrepreneur to document the project's merits and to articulate a narrative, addressing the venture's risks and rewards, to his or her potential investors, partners, and other stakeholders.
This unit will present the outline of a business plan, explain the importance of each section, and provide you with guidance as to how you can craft this information for your own ventures. We will also cover the "do's” and "don'ts” of preparing a business plan. Lastly, this unit will emphasize how the business plan is not the business itself; it is only a step from idea to venture, and it is imperative that you understand how to articulate the business plan succinctly, cleanly, and carefully.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 14 hours.
Unit 4: Marketing Strategy
This unit deals with developing marketing strategies designed to help you achieve your business objectives and build competitive advantage. You will learn how to conduct market research, forecast potential sales opportunities, and develop a marketing plan. In turn, the marketing plan will outline the actions that must be carried out in order to persuade consumers to purchase the products and services you offer. This plan can be part of the business plan or a stand-alone document.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 41 hours.
Unit 5: Financing the New Venture
Every entrepreneur needs money. It is imperative that you understand the costs of launching and maintaining a business, from start-up expenses to operating capital. The financial information and projections contained in a business plan are vital because they demonstrate the potential for profit and serve as the guideline for managing the business' financial aspects. This unit will teach you how to determine the costs for launching a new venture and where to get those funds. Additionally, you will learn to document the current financial status of the business and project future estimates. You will also examine options for securing financing or investors and partners to help capitalize the business.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 21 hours.
Optional Course Evaluation Survey