7 Universities with Free Online Business Entrepreneurship Courses
See our list of the top free online business entrepreneurship courses. Learn about what courses are available and find out what topics they cover to find the one that's right for you.
Info on Free Online Business Entrepreneurship Courses
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), when it comes to the country's economic growth, entrepreneurs have a lot to contribute. However, not all start-ups succeed, and survival statistics can vary by industry and type of business. The BLS reported that from 2000-2010, while new healthcare and social assistance ventures enjoyed the highest rates of survival, construction enterprises experienced the lowest. Entrepreneurs who are building their services or products and developing a customer base typically enter the field through a small business initiative.
To help entrepreneurs get off to the best start possible, the following universities and websites offer a number of free online courses and resources that provide information about business planning and organization, financing, management and marketing. These resources don't lead to college credit.
Carnegie Mellon University (TalkShoe)
TalkShoe at Carnegie Mellon University is a Web-based community service that allows individuals to create or participate in online discussions or listen to audioblogs and podcasts.
Entrepreneurship and Business Planning is a 16-lecture course that includes PowerPoint presentations, handouts and a case study. The course was originally a supplement to a live class in the school's Master in Information Systems Management program. A variety of key topics are covered, including concept development, financing, marketing, strategic sales and team building.
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
The Internal Revenue Service's Video Portal is an archive of audio and visual presentations that can help business people find answers to their tax questions.
Starting a Business includes topics in record keeping, income reporting for the self-employed, retirement planning and seasonal businesses. The video presentations range from approximately two minutes to over one hour and are accompanied by an online transcript.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
The classes at MIT are available through the OpenCourseWare (OCW) initiative and include audio, print and video materials. Entrepreneurial Marketing shows would-be entrepreneurs how an understanding of essential concepts, methods and strategies can help them succeed in a competitive market. Course topics include communication, customer relations, distribution and pricing. A list of suggested readings is available, and some assignments and lectures notes can be downloaded as PDFs.
The Open University
The Open University's Learning Space offers more than 600 free, Web-based courses, ranging from introductory to postgraduate classes. Although viewers can access the materials without signing up, registration, which is free, can improve students' experiences by allowing them to share ideas and use LabSpace, as well as LearningSpace. Course features include the use of blogging platforms like WordPress and an open learning comments section.
Students who take the advanced course in Entrepreneurial Behavior can learn about key qualities and leadership styles associated with successful entrepreneurs and what role they play in the economy.
Stanford University's Entrepreneurship Corner provides aspiring business owners with access to approximately 2,000 free podcasts and videos. Topics include marketing and sales, finance, leadership and social entrepreneurship.
Two Generations of Entrepreneurship is part of the Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Lecture Series and introduces students to serial entrepreneurs, Sandra and Andy Kurtzig. This lecture is approximately 45 minutes long and includes topics in company missions and venture funding.
Two Reasons Companies Can Fail features Bill Gross, founder and CEO of Idealab. Around one hour in length, Gross' presentation speaks to the primary reasons why a company may not succeed, including lack of funding and team management.
University of California - Irvine
These free lectures were originally hosted by the University of California - Irvine's Entrepreneur's Forum; they're now available as YouTube videos. In Conducting a Thorough Market Assessment, established entrepreneurs Brant Cooper and Patrick Vlaskovits discuss lean start-up and customer development techniques. In The Elevator Pitch, Chris Van Dusen explains how entrepreneurs can develop brief, meaningful stories about their products or services in order to gain customers.
U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)
- Encore Entrepreneurs: An Introduction to Starting Your Own Business
- Young Entrepreneurs: An Essential Guide to Starting Your Own Business
The Small Business Learning Center provided by the SBA is an online service that offers entrepreneurs access to training videos and information about entrepreneurship, finance, government contracting and marketing. Technical requirements include the use of Adobe Reader and Flash Player, and students are asked to fill out an optional demographic survey before the start of the online training session.
Encore Entrepreneurs is a 30-minute session geared towards company-based professionals who are interested in becoming small business owners. Viewers will learn about what kinds of businesses can be started with very little capital and what types of nonprofit resources are available to those who are interested in pursuing a new line of work.
The Young Entrepreneurs class takes approximately 40 minutes to complete and may help potential business owners decide not only if entrepreneurship is right for them, but also whether or not their business idea will work. This course is presented in an audio-visual format and provides information about the different types of business models, financing, must-do steps, ownership options and resource sharing.