Introduction

Entrepreneurship Essentials introduces you to the entrepreneurial journey, from finding an idea, to gaining traction in the marketplace, to raising capital for your venture. You will learn an overarching framework—People, Opportunity, Context, Deal—to evaluate opportunities, manage start-ups, and finance ventures. That framework has been taught to thousands of Harvard Business School MBA students over the past 30 years.

This course explains how entrepreneurs run structured experiments to validate ideas and refine business strategy. You will dive deep into the numbers behind how entrepreneurs and their investors make financial decisions to create value and grow their operations. Whether you are a current or aspiring entrepreneur, or someone who is looking to gain an understanding of how businesses are built, you will walk away from Entrepreneurship Essentials with the ability to:

  • Identify an opportunity
  • Evaluate an idea and assess the market
  • Appreciate the risks and rewards of entrepreneurship
  • Leverage experiments to validate your idea and refine your business strategy
  • Discover the key financial decisions any entrepreneur must make in the early stages of a new venture
  • Understand the process of raising capital and how to speak to investors
  • Learn from successful entrepreneurs and leading venture capitalists, as well as peers

Course Structure

Entrepreneurship Essentials consists of approximately 20 hours of material delivered over a four-week period with a flexible program structure. There is no set time to log in. You complete the coursework on your own time while meeting regular deadlines. All course material is delivered through the innovative HBX online platform.

The HBX Learning Model centers around the Harvard Business School case method, featuring interviews with business leaders and executives from companies around the world who candidly discuss challenges they've faced or obstacles they've overcome. We ask you to step into their shoes and engage with your peers to work through these real-world business scenarios. The case protagonists in Entrepreneurship Essentials represent successful entrepreneurs from a range of industries and leading venture capitalists. You will learn from serial entrepreneur John Osher, who has successfully launched many consumer products; Jennifer Hyman, CEO of Rent the Runway, which rents fashionable dresses and accessories; and Scott Cook, founder of Intuit, a software startup that grew to multi-billion dollar enterprise.

Topics covered in the program include:

  • Introduction to Entrepreneurship
  • Identifying and evaluating an opportunity
  • Building a business
  • Financing a business

Entrepreneurship Essentials participants are eligible for a Certificate of Completion from HBX and Harvard Business School. To earn the certificate, you must successfully complete all coursework by the stated deadlines and actively contribute to the vibrant HBX learning community.


Who would benefit from taking Entrepreneurship Essentials?

Entrepreneurship Essentials is designed for individuals who may be considering starting their own business, first-time entrepreneurs with just the start of an idea (or in the early stages of their ventures), or individuals looking to join a start-up (or invest in start-ups) who want to understand the process of building a new business. The course is also open to undergraduate students with an interest in entrepreneurship.

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What are HBX certificate programs?

HBX certificate programs are focused on one essential business topic. They combine the flexibility of online programming with the rigor and quality of a Harvard Business School education to give participants a unique edge in their careers.


 

Meet The Faculty

William A. Sahlman

William A. Sahlman

Baker Foundation Professor; Dimitri V. D'Arbeloff - MBA Class of 1955 Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus

Professor Sahlman joined the Harvard Business School faculty in 1980. In addition to serving as co-chair of the Entrepreneurial Management unit, he has also been chairman of the board for Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation and Senior Associate Dean for External Relations.

Professor Sahlman is a widely published author of numerous articles and two textbooks on topics including entrepreneurial management, venture capital, private equity, deal structuring, incentives, commercializing science, impact investing, and the role of entrepreneurship in the global economy. He has published over 200 case studies on entrepreneurial ventures.

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