Entrepreneurship Essentials Course


Read more about this program on the institution's website

Program Description

Master a proven framework for building and financing new ventures, make your entrepreneurial dreams a reality, and speak the language of the start-up world.

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. This framework has been taught to thousands of Harvard Business School MBA students over the past 30 years.

Entrepreneurship Essentials explains how entrepreneurs run structured experiments to validate ideas and refine business strategy. You will dive deep into the numbers of 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 our innovative online platform.

Our 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 Harvard Business School Online. To earn the certificate, you must successfully complete all coursework by the stated deadlines and actively contribute to our vibrant learning community.

Who Would Benefit?

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 who want to understand the process of building a new business. This course is also for individuals interested in investing in startups, as well as undergraduate students with an interest in entrepreneurship.

The course module on Financing a Business covers financial concepts such as present value and options contracts. For participants without a general understanding of finance, optional background content is provided.


It is free to apply and applications are reviewed and accepted on a rolling basis, so early application is encouraged. All applicants must be 18 years of age and demonstrate proficiency in English.

Last updated Nov 2020

About the School

Harvard Business School Online teaches vital business concepts in a unique and highly engaging way that enables committed learners to transform their careers, their organizations, and their lives.

Harvard Business School Online teaches vital business concepts in a unique and highly engaging way that enables committed learners to transform their careers, their organizations, and their lives. Read less