Startup September: 3 Free Online Classes to Improve your Business Skills

Massive Open Online Classes are the newest branch of online education. These classes, offered by top universities, offer free, high-quality information that can be reviewed and completed within the same flexible formats of traditional distance learning. Whether you are in the conceptual stages of a startup or managing a large organization, MOOCs have a class for you.

How to Build a Startup

Steve Blank is the author of The Startup Owner’s Manual which is also suggested reading for his course. Blank is a long-time Silicon Valley entrepreneur who survived the bursting of the Dot Com Bubble but has admittedly crashed a few times in the past 21 years. Today, he shares his business knowledge at colleges such as Stanford, Berkeley and Columbia; advises many entrepreneurs and spreads the gospel of the “lean startup” to the public via books and, most recently, on Udacity’s MOOC site.

The lean startup model turns the unpredictable beginning stages of business by emphasizing flexibility. Blank teaches students how to use a base-line product to establish an audience. The flexibility of the lean startup model allows entrepreneurs to respond to client feedback to fine tune the product and customer service models that will ultimately establish the business model of a company.

The class officially started on September 14, but you can still enroll. The class is listed at an intermediate level.

An Introduction to Operations Management

Taught by Professor Christian Terwiesch, a Professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, this class touches upon overarching strategies of management that can be applied in numerous types of businesses. As the course descriptions says, most succinctly, “You will learn how to analyze business processes and how to improve them.”

A more detailed description of skills offered by this course is as follows: improve productivity, increase responsiveness, provide more choice to the customer, deliver high quality standards, identify bottlenecks and detect productivity wastes. Perhaps most important of all, the course helps business leaders identify key areas for improvement.

This course is recommended for business school students and executives. The math level of this course is basic. Starts September 24.

Organizational Analysis

Organizational behavior may, at first glance, seem a foreign concept; but organizations are so ubiquitous that human society is almost constantly working within such structures. Governments, schools, hospitals and companies are all rife with details and complexities that spur and prohibit change. This class is a look into the different challenges that organizations face and the determining factors that can drive situations.

By learning organizational theories, students will be prepared to interpret situations and identify the key features and events needed to transform it. Ultimately, this course is for anyone who may need to redirect a corporation, school or other organization. The class is taught by Daniel A. McFarland, an Associate Professor at Stanford University.

This class begins September 24.

About the Author: Karen Smith, a former newspaper reporter and globe trotter, is now a freelance writer for various publications and websites. She specializes in answering questions from students who are hoping to earn a business degree online; but she also welcomes comments or questions regarding all educational topics.