Learning Business Fundamentals

*Note: This post contains affiliate links. 

Most business schools start their first-year students with a set of courses that get everyone on the same page, teaching certain fundamentals that serve as a foundation for the rest of the education. If you are considering putting together your own business education, I recommend that you do what regular MBA students do and start by taking a variety of courses that cover the major business disciplines. This website is dedicated to the premise that you can get an MBA-style education, on your own, for a fraction of what you would pay for even the cheapest MBA program out there. This is possible thanks to the existence of open educational resources (OER), massive open online courses (MOOCs), and other free and low-cost resources that make high-quality education available to pretty much anyone.

These days, in addition to individual business courses, there are a variety of course series that cover those fundamentals. The nice thing about a course series, is that some of the work of designing your curriculum is done for you.

Below are a few options for readymade course series that teach business fundamentals to people without a prior business background.  While the list of topics they cover varies slightly, what all these programs have in common is that they will teach you to understand and speak the language of business.

 

Business Foundations Specialization

University of Pennsylvania Wharton Business School on Coursera

The Business Foundations Specialization from Wharton Business School on Coursera consists of five courses, plus a capstone project. The courses provide an introduction to marketing, financial accounting, managing people, corporate finance, and operations management. I took versions of three of these courses (accounting, marketing, and operations management) back when they were first introduced (the current courses are condensed from the originals), and I can personally attest to the high quality of the content. I still use concepts I learned in these courses every day at work. At $79 per month, it’s a good value when you consider that you are learning from some of the top professors at a school that is consistently in the top 5 MBA programs in the US. The full program can be completed in about 6-7 months, at a cost of around $500.

 

HBX CORe

I have been very interested in the Certificate of Readiness (CORe) from Harvard Business School’s extension program, HBX. CORe consists of three courses, on Business Analytics, Economics for Managers, and Financial Accounting. At $1,950 this program is more expensive than the others on this list. However, I think there are some good reasons to consider it. First, the Harvard name pulls some serious weight, even if you’ve take just a short program like this one. Second, the program offers some flexibility to students. You can choose a standard 12 week program, an accelerated 8-10 week program, or an extended 17 week program, depending on what fits into your schedule. You can also elect to earn credit (for an additional fee). Third, the level of personal interaction in this program is high as compared to other online courses. From what I can tell, the interaction is more similar to an online degree program than what you would find in a MOOC.

 

Business Fundamentals MicroMasters

The University of British Columbia on edX

One newer program is the Business Fundamentals MicroMasters from the University of British Columbia. This MicroMasters is offered on the edX platform. Like the other MicroMasters on edX, this program can accelerate a Master’s degree. So, if you decided to continue to get a full MBA from UBC, this program would count towards that degree. When you consider the offer of credit towards the full MBA, the $720 price tag is actually very affordable. The series consists of six courses, including Business Foundations, Business Communications, Introduction to Accounting, Organizational Behavior, Introduction to Marketing, and Introduction to Corporate Finance. The program can be completed in about 9 months.

 

An Entire MBA in 1 Course

For a very inexpensive introduction to business, you might want to look at Chris Haroun’s course on Udemy, An Entire MBA in 1 Course. I have reviewed this course in depth elsewhere on the blog. It is a great resource, and at $50 (with No-Pay MBA’s discount), it is very affordable as compared to the other options on this list. One drawback is that it is just a single course, so you are only getting one person’s perspective. That said, it is about as comprehensive as any single course you will find. Particularly if you are an entrepreneur or working in a startup environment, or if you just need to gain a basic understanding of business and don’t have much time or money to invest, this is a great choice. It’s also fully on demand and self paced, so you can access any part of it at any time. NB: One thing to be aware of is that unlike the other options on this list, this is not the kind of course you would list on your resume, though it works just fine for increasing your general level of business skills and savvy.

What’s My ROI? Calculating the full return on a business education

What to consider before you start a business education.

 

Four years ago, I hatched a plan to do my own “MBA” composed of free university courses (what I called a No-Pay MBA). At that time, MOOCs were just becoming more widely known, and many famous business schools were introducing new courses. I didn’t yet know how to calculate the financial value of an investment of time and money into a traditional MBA program (I would learn it later, in my first finance course), nor did I know how to compare that expected return with the value I hoped to reap from my DIY business education. I did, however, have an intuitive sense that a fully featured, prestigious MBA with all the bells and whistles (and all the debt) wouldn’t serve me as well as a more stripped down business education, designed and administered by me.

 

That hunch turned out to be right, but interestingly, it is only with the benefit of hindsight that I can fully account for the ways in which my decision not to pay for a regular MBA was a good one.

 

More than just financial return

 

The funny thing about trying to value an investment is that it always involves a bit of guesswork. You can calculate the net present value of an expected cash flow, but you can’t always predict with 100% accuracy whether said cash will trickle or gush. Even more importantly, while your quantitative classes will teach you to calculate return in dollars, for a big life decision like getting an MBA the money side is only one dimension of return. “Is an MBA worth doing?” is a bigger question than “Is an MBA a good financial investment?” Interestingly, even the Graduate Management Admissions Council, which publishes an annual report on the perspectives of MBA alums, doesn’t just focus on financial return but also asks whether graduates found the MBA professionally and personally rewarding.

 

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The return on my No-Pay MBA

 

Having finished my own No-Pay MBA a year ago, I can now look backward with more clarity at what the return was on my investment of time and energy (and a small amount of money). The main career and life events that have transpired in my career since getting my MBA are the following:

1. In 2015, I got a $20,000 raise and moved into a new position in my current industry (international development). That alone would have made my modest investment “worth it” from a financial perspective.

2. In 2016, I got a book deal to write a book about how other people could get their own self-administered “MBAs”. That book was released this month. While the financial payoff from the book remains to be seen, I found writing a book extremely rewarding and enjoyable. Professionally, there are few honors more prestigious than being asked to write a book. That mark of expertise can’t be bought. It can only be earned.

The raise alone would have made my modest investment “worth it” from a financial perspective.

3. In 2017, I gave birth to twins and quit working. I expect to be a stay at home mom/author for at least the next year, maybe more. Being home with my children is the most rewarding job I have ever done. It was possible financially only because I don’t have any student loans to service.

And who knows what 2018 will bring. So, looking back on my decision to skip the traditional MBA and go my own route, would I have done it all again? Yes, Yes, and YES!! Though interestingly, only one of these outcomes - the first - was in my original calculation of the return of an MBA.

What return DON’T you want from your MBA?

Calculating your personal return requires using your imagination to envision what your life will be like with an MBA, but it should also include imagining a range of possible outcomes and worst case scenarios. You have probably already asked yourself questions such as, How much money will I make in my first job out of the MBA?  And, what industry do I plan to work in? However, you may not have considered the negative case, i.e. What do I NOT want from my MBA?

 

What do I NOT want from my MBA?

For example, a few of the things I DIDN’T want from an MBA included working 80 hour weeks, moving for a job, working in finance or management consulting, or ending up being a stay at home mom with MBA debt. Not wanting those things influenced my decision to create my own business education rather than getting a traditional MBA.

As the adviser to independent business students, I encourage you to ask yourself these questions before you decide to get an MBA. These questions apply to all potential MBA candidates, and they aren’t the ones that are usually found on business schools’ websites.

 

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How might my options be constrained by going into debt or spending my life savings?

What if I score my dream job, only to find that I don’t love the work?

What dreams are out of reach if I forego a traditional MBA? Am I sure those dreams are out of reach? How do I know?

If you end up with some doubts, do yourself a favor and fully explore the possibility of designing your own MBA program. The resources on this site are designed to help you do just that, as is my new book Don’t Pay For Your MBA.

Studying Business Online? Your Credential Options

If you’re looking for affordable business education and credentials to show your skills, you may want to consider these options.

First published May 17, 2015. Last updated  November 10, 2016. This post contains affiliate links.

 

I first published a version of this post just after the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign released their entire MBA program through Coursera and announced that you could earn a bona fide MBA degree from them via MOOC. Students would still need to go through the regular admissions process and be accepted to the business school, and they would pay $20,000 for verified certificates and other fees, but this was (and remains) the first full MBA available 100% through MOOCs.

Since then, we’ve continued to see a proliferation of new business credentials that you can earn through online study, ranging from certificates for single courses to U-IL’s iMBA, with a lot of new options in between. While most of these credentials don’t enjoy the same level of recognition as a full-scale MBA, there is reason to believe that some form of credentialing could be valuable in the job search. And at a price many thousands of dollars less than a traditional MBA, the cost-to-value of these new credentials has the potential to be quite high.

Here is a rundown of the current options for both degree and non-degree credentials when studying business online, in ascending order of cost.  

The Smartly MBA

Cost: $0  

One of the newest and potentially most disruptive credentials out there is the Smartly MBA. This highly selective program admits just a few top performers (as demonstrated by prior work and educational experience) to earn an accelerated MBA in just 4 months. Content is delivered through an interactive app. While this is not a MOOC-based option, some of Smartly’s content is available to the public. Which is a good thing because only a small portion of those who are excited about Smartly’s free (though as yet non accredited) degree program will actually make it through the admissions process.

 

Coursera Specializations

Cost: $200 - $600

When I first published this post, Coursera’s Specializations were new, and there weren’t very many of them. Now, you can find dozens of multi-course series on Coursera, typically consisting of 4-6 courses and a capstone project. The topics have gotten more specialized as well, including not just general business subjects such as financial management and entrepreneurship but also niche topics such as construction management and culture-driven team building.

Become a Web Developer in 2016 with Coursera

Coursera has also recently introduced a new subscription-based payment model (something I suggested a while back, though at a higher price than I proposed) for certain Specializations, with fees ranging from $39 to $89 per month. This might make some courses cheaper, though if you tend to procrastinate it could also make them more expensive.  While the value of Specializations in the job market is still relatively unknown, recruiters do report that they are seeing MOOCs on candidates’ resumes and that they generally view them positively.

This might make some courses cheaper, though if you tend to procrastinate it could also make them more expensive.

edX MicroMasters

Cost: $600 - $1700

The newest credential on the block is the MicroMasters, offered through the edX MOOC platform. As its name suggests, a MicroMasters involves master’s level coursework, but in a shorter, more condensed program. The first MicroMasters was created by MIT in the field of Supply Chain Management. The new crop of MicroMasters includes programs in Project Management, International Business Management, and User Experience Design, as well as non-business fields. The big advantage of the MicroMasters is that they shares a direct linkage with traditional master’s programs, allowing students who choose to do so to enter directly into a degree-granting program, with their MOOC coursework counting for credit towards the overall degree. Overall, the value to cost of a MicroMasters makes it a very promising option.

 

HBX CORe

Cost: $1950 - $3600

Harvard Business School’s Certificate of Readiness (CORe) is an interesting one. Harvard being Harvard, the business school has created its own platform, HBX, through which to deliver a small set of business courses. CORe is a sort of mini-MBA, covering just the foundations of an MBA program, designed for people with no previous business background. The big advantage of this program is the Harvard name.

There are a few attractive features of CORe. First, having a credential from Harvard, even if it isn’t a full degree, is bound to be worth something. If you can get the Harvard brand name onto your resume for $2000, even when other more affordable options are available (such as the Wharton Business Foundations Specialization), it might well be worth the price. Second, the HBX is more interactive than many of the MOOC platforms. It still operates on cohorts, and it has an admissions process. Admitted students are invested in the program and the level of engagement is high, which translates to added networking benefits. Finally, HBX also offers an option to take CORe for credit. The price of the for-credit option is double, at $3600, but it could be a good option if you’re planning to do a full-scale MBA in the future.

Professional certifications

Cost: in the range of $2,000 - $5,000

Many professional business certifications are available online, most of them offered through professional associations. Organizations like the Project Management Institute, the Institute of Management Accountants, the Information Systems Audit and Control Association, and many others all offer professional certifications.  The advantages of these professional certifications is that they are very specific, and many are very well-recognized within their industries. The disadvantages are that you typically need to already be a practicing professional in order to reap the benefits of the certification, or even to become certified. Being so specific, these narrow credentials aren’t as versatile as an MBA, but within their respective industries they can be just as valuable.

Accredited degrees from low-cost online universities

Cost: $10,000 - $15,000*

*(varies significantly depending on how long you take to finish and how much credit you transfer in)

Several online-only universities offer low-cost MBA programs targeted towards working professionals. These include Western Governors, Capella University, and Excelsior College. All of these institutions allow students to study online at their own pace. Western Governors is a competency-based program, meaning that degrees are conferred based on the completion of projects. The advantages of these programs are the flexibility, the cost, and the fact that you can earn an accredited degree. The disadvantages are that if you take longer than expected to finish, you may end up paying more. And even though the degrees are accredited, the reputations of these schools aren’t as strong as, say, the University of Illinois.

 

Coursera Business Vertical

University of Illinois’s iMBA

Cost: $20,000

As mentioned above, the University of Illinois is the first business school to offer a degree based on MOOC coursework. The big advantages of this program are the significant savings over other online programs, the flexibility of the program, and the reputability of the final degree. Downsides? $20,000 is still a lot of money, you’ll have to go through the admissions process and be accepted to the program, and you might still be missing out on some of the in-person benefits of an MBA. Still, if you need the degree and can afford the tuition, this is a great option.  

 

Online MBAs

Cost: $60,000 to $100,000

Most of us are familiar with online MBA programs. Many universities offer online MBAs. The advantage of these programs is that they are just as well-recognized in the job market as brick-and-mortar MBAs. The downside is that the cost is equivalent – and sometimes greater – than what you would spend on a traditional, on-campus MBA program.  

The MBA Alternative for Small Business Owners

Affordable, practical business education for small business, family business, and self-financed entrepreneurs

This post contains affiliate links. 

If you currently run or have ever wanted to start your own business, but you don’t have a business background, you may be wondering whether you could benefit from an MBA education. If money were no object, the answer would most certainly be yes. But with tuition soaring into the stratosphere, a business degree is not always an entrepreneur’s best bet.

In the US, small businesses make up 99.7% of firms, according to the Small Business Administration. Of these, over three-quarters are sole proprietorships or partnerships employing only the business owners, and over half are home-based. Some small businesses grow and become medium-size or large firms, while many others die off (roughly 50% within the first 5 years). Many small businesses are designed to stay small, so-called “lifestyle businesses,” whose main purpose is to provide a steady income, not to become the next Uber.

With such uncertain odds and differing motivations, it’s no surprise that when faced with the choice between investing in the business itself or plunking down $100K for a business education of unknown ROI, many small business owners forego the degree. In some ways, that’s just smart business. In other ways it’s a shame, since small business owners, managers of family businesses, and people who are planning to start a small business one day could certainly pick up some valuable skills from a graduate business education.

 

A Better Alternative for Small Business Owners

 

Enter massive open online courses. For this demographic, as for many others, a MOOC-based business education offers an attractive alternative to a pricey MBA degree.

 

Start your future with a Business Analytics Certificate.

Business education for small and family-owned businesses is a topic of great personal interest to me, both as an international development professional and as an entrepreneur.  Worldwide, small and family-owned businesses make up the vast majority of all firms. In the Latin American and African economies I’ve worked in, there isn’t a lot of venture capital sloshing around, so new businesses are often built by bootstrapping or taking out bank loans. These entrepreneurs may not have money to spend on a business degree, but they do need to pick up business skills in order to be successful in their new ventures. Additionally, I myself started a small business as part of my No-Pay MBA education. The experience was the ultimate capstone to my business studies, and it brought home the importance of a business education that delivers value, no matter the size of the enterprise.

These entrepreneurs may not have money to spend on a business degree, but they do need to pick up business skills in order to be successful in their new ventures.

If you are running a small business, or looking to start one, you can pick up much of what you need through free and low-cost courses. They key is finding courses that are highly practical and tailored toward your needs as an entrepreneur. Below are a few of my top recommendations.

 

Introduction to Operations Management

 

This course will train you to view your business with the critical eye of an operations manager, looking for opportunities to improve efficiency in every repeating process. From filing, to stocking, to customer service, you are bound to find many areas of your business that could benefit from a bit of operational analysis and a few tweaks to pick up the slack.

 

How to Finance and Grow Your Startup Without VC

 

Did you know that some of the most successful, fastest-growing companies were built without venture financing? This includes companies like Dell, Shutterstock, GoPro, and many others. The perfect antidote to a culture that has become increasingly obsessed with venture capital. You will learn at least five other ways to finance your startup, all of which are less risky than seeking venture capital.

An Entire MBA In One Course

This comprehensive course is great for demystifying what happens at top business schools. Chris Haroun, venture capitalist and former management consultant, teaches a highly condensed, highly practical course. He covers all the major b-school topics in an intuitive way. In the section on accounting, for example, Haroun focuses not on accounting theory or manual bookkeeping. Rather, he talks about the kinds of accounting software and services that business of various sizes rely on. The section on finance, the least intuitive topic in the business curriculum, is where you’ll find the real meat of this course. Well worth the money, and readers of this blog can get 75% off the course using this link.

Intro to Financial Modeling

And while we’re on the topic of finance, many would-be and current entrepreneurs could benefit from learning the basics of financial modeling in Excel. This might sound intimidating, especially if you don’t have any prior business experience, but don’t worry! Modeling is just a method for identifying all the money coming into and going out of your business, making educated guesses about those flows, and mapping them out over time. This course offers an approachable take on the topic of financial modeling, using the example of a lemonade stand, a simple business.

Digital Branding and Engagement

Many brick-and-mortar businesses are behind the curve on digital marketing. Don’t have a digital marketing strategy? This course can help get you up to speed and get you thinking about opportunities to engage a digital audience.

 

If you run or plan to start a business, what courses have you found valuable? Share your favorites in the comments!

 

Which of the 7 Types of Business Student Are You?

Find out which type you are and get targeted recommendations on how to study.

Note: This post contains affiliate links.

When I first started the No-Pay MBA website - and my quest to get a business education with free tools -  it was all about replicating the full MBA, course for course, internship for internship. I wasn’t interested in anything less than the complete MBA experience.

But in working with business students through the No-Pay MBA Network, I’ve seen people approach their business educations in a variety of different ways. While there certainly are people who can benefit from the deluxe business school curriculum, it is no longer the only approach I recommend. In fact, I’ve seen people experience career-changing benefits just from taking a single course.

Through this work and my conversations with independent business students, I’ve identified at least seven different approaches to business education. The chart below can help you figure out whether one of them applies to you.

 

 

 

Figured out which type you are?

See below for course recommendations and study tips for each kind of business student.

Also, note that most of the courses I recommend are available to audit for free (that means no certificate and in some cases no quizzes or assignments). If you’re wondering how to audit a class on Coursera, check out this short video.

Note: This section contains affiliate links. 

The Test Driver

 

You aren’t sure where your career will take you, and you are seriously considering whether to get an MBA. Sure, an MBA can be a solid bet — but are you really ready to go tens of thousands of dollars into debt? If you’re on this website, then you’re probably having some doubts. If you are a Test Driver, then please do yourself a favor and take a few months to figure out two things BEFORE you commit to an education that will have you paying loans for the next 15 plus years.  Those two things? 1) the shortlist of careers you might like to pursue, and 2 ) whether an MBA is required for you to get a good job in one of those careers. Before you drop a hundred thou on tuition, you should be pretty clear on both points. MOOCs are a key starting point in your research. By “test driving” the MBA, you can figure out if b-school is really for you. Bonus: some schools are even counting MOOC success towards the application process.

 

A few good MOOCs:

 

The Business Foundations Series from the Wharton School of Business is a great place to start your business school journey.

Foundations of Business Strategy is another of my all-time favorites. It will give you a feel for the analytical work performed by management consultants.

You can find more course recommendations for Test Drivers in this article I wrote for The Daily Muse.

 

Business Foundations from the Wharton School

Extracurricular activities:

Outside the classroom, Test Drivers should focus on conducting informational interviews with people in their industries of interest. If you don’t have anyone in your personal network in the fields you’re considering, check out a site like Evisors, which allows you to schedule short conversations with industry experts.

By “test driving” the MBA, you can figure out if b-school is really for you.

The Executive

 

You are at a mid-career level (or higher) and working in a field you enjoy. You might have started out in a technical role, like Nick, a medical device engineer, did.The next move, however, will require you to manage a team of people. Perhaps you’ve already been promoted to a managerial position in which you’ll be managing people for the first time. Yikes! Are you ready for it? Thankfully, Coursera has you covered with some great resources to get started managing people.

 

A few good MOOCs:

 

You may want to start with a series like this one from the University of Minnesota on how to be a better manager of people.

Another great source of courses for you is the curriculum of the iMBA. This innovative program from the University of Illinois is literally an entire MBA, delivered via MOOC. You can do the degree program for $10,000 or cherry pick the content you need for free. Yep, that’s right. An MBA for free (no degree though). Start by checking out their Strategic Leadership and Management Specialization.

Finally, the University of Michigan offers a series of courses on Leading People and Teams. And this series comes with some extra sweeteners for top-performing students, including credit toward a Distinguished Leader certificate from the Ross School of Business, office hours with faculty, and a LinkedIn endorsement from the Ross faculty.

 

Extracurricular activities:

 

Here are a few additional non-MOOC resources that are great for managers:

 

  • Brené Brown’s TED Talk on vulnerability. This powerful and entertaining TED Talk is a great introduction to the importance of self-reflection and emotions, even in the world of work.

The Accelerator

 

Like The Executive, The Accelerator is content to remain in the field in which she currently works. Unlike The Executive, however, her focus is on building her repertoire of technical skills. Are there people who are both Executives and Accelerators? Absolutely!

 

A few good MOOCs:

 

My advice to Accelerators is to pick a specific area and take several courses on the same topic. For example, if you are a marketer, you might want to go deep on digital marketing, taking a series like the University of Illinois’s popular Digital Marketing Specialization.  

Or maybe you’ve discovered that an advanced understanding of quantitative analytics is the key to your move up the ladder. In that case, you might want to check out this series on Data Science and Analytics, or this one from Wharton on Business Analytics.

More and more, the content you can find in MOOC form is exceedingly high quality and of professional caliber. For example, you can study supply chain dynamics with MIT or earn a professional certificate on mergers and acquisitions, both through the edX platform.

 

Extracurricular activities:

 

See if you can be included as a member of a project team that is doing interesting work, or fill an interesting gap on your team. My husband isn’t a business student, but he did take a series of MOOCs relevant to his field of international development. The courses taught some cutting edge techniques in program evaluation. As a result of expanding his repertoire, he was able to take on some special projects in the office.

 

 

The Traditionalist and The Career Shifter

 

The Traditionalist may have the most difficult task of all the types. He is trying to orchestrate a career move into a field that is dominated by MBAs. In fact, depending on his prior experience, he may find that in order to make that move, he needs to get a degree himself. His best bet is to combine the strategies of the Test Driver and The Accelerator (above). That means taking a broad range of MOOCs to build a strong foundation in business, as well as building some additional technical expertise. He’ll also want to be sure to make a habit of conducting informational interviews to expand his network. With some luck, he may be able to avoid having to shell out for the degree.

The Career Shifter is in a similar situation to the Traditionalist, with the extra advantage that her field of choice is not dominated by MBAs. That means that by arming herself with an advanced understanding of business, she differentiates herself from the competition, instead of merely keeping up. In my view, these are the two types for whom a traditional MBA degree makes the most sense.  

 

Extracurricular activities:

 

Both of these types should make a concerted effort to do volunteer work or internships in the field they’d like to move into. The key here is to establish a track record in a new area, allowing you to make a lateral move. Developing a portfolio of work is all-important, as is growing your network in your new field. Internships and volunteer projects accomplish both.

 

The Explorer

 

If you are an Explorer, you may crave the kind of career transformation that an MBA can help you orchestrate. Yet, having weighed the cost of the degree against its benefits, you’ve come to the conclusion that a $100,000 bet on an unsure thing is simply too large! You’re not sure what you want to do post-business education. What if you realize that your passions do not lie in high-paying business fields, but rather in social entrepreneurship, international development, nonprofit administration, or government? You are wise to explore your options without adding a massive debt burden to the equation.  

What if you realize that your passions do not lie in high-paying business fields, but rather in social entrepreneurship, international development, nonprofit administration, or government?

The Explorer uses his business education as a way of figuring out what to do next. Many Explorers already have significant career experience and may already hold an advanced degree. All the more reason not to go back to school full time and at full expense.

 

A few good MOOCs:

 

Like the Test Driver, you’ll want to start by studying the fundamentals - topics like marketing, finance, operations, accounting, and management.

After that, study widely!  For The Explorer, the greatest things about MOOCs is the variety and the low cost of trying them out. Think you might be interested in running a hotel one day? Take Cornell’s course on Hotel and Hospitality Management. Always wanted to understand the music business? Try this course from Berklee School of Music. Curious about quality improvement? Study Six Sigma.

Eventually, through study and reflection, you will probably wind up in one of the other categories of business student and can plan out a next step.

 

Extracurricular activities:

 

Explorers can benefit greatly from career coaching, as well as from values and aptitudes inventories, like Career Leader, which is used by many business schools. (If you’re interested in taking the Career Leader inventory, which I administer in conjunction with a career conversation, you can contact me here.)

 

The Entrepreneur

 

I saved The Entrepreneur for last because it is unique among the types of business student. I’ve heard entrepreneurship described as jumping off a cliff and trying to build a plane on the way down. It can certainly feel like that. If you haven’t yet started your business - or if you don’t even have a clear idea yet of what kind of business you want to start -  take your time and give yourself the gift of a few months of MOOCs on general business topics, including entrepreneurship.

 

 

Once you gear up to launch you’ll be scrambling to learn whatever necessary to make your business work. When you’re an entrepreneur you end up being the chief, cook, and bottle washer. Translation: anything that needs doing, you’ll do it. Need a logo? You’ll study branding. Building a website? You’ll learn WordPress. On-demand is the name of your game.

Are you an Entrepreneur? On-demand is the name of your game. 

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A few good MOOCs:

My longtime favorite MOOC on entrepreneurship is Steve Blank’s course How to Build a Startup.

My new favorite course for entrepreneurs is Chris Haroun’s course on Udemy.  This course is a must take, especially if you might one day seek funding for your business.

In general, if you are an Entrepreneur, Udemy is your friend. This platform has inexpensive, practical courses on every topic imaginable. Here’s one for designing that logo and another for building your website.  Use this link to get 30% off any Udemy course during the month of July.

 

Need more MOOC recommendations? Grab a copy of the No-Pay MBA Handbook and Current Course List.

 

Your Summer Business Reading List

To construct my self-directed business education, I’ve relied on a variety of resources. MOOCs and online courses have been the backbone of my studies, of course, but I’ve also learned many valuable lessons by reading business books.

As folks in the northern hemisphere head into summer, I thought it would be nice to recommend a few of my recent favorites. If you’re in need of some good beach reading, look no further!

Here are some of the most enlightening and thought-provoking business books I’ve read in the past year.

 

1. Work Rules! Insights from Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead by Laszlo Bock

When Google stopped relying on grades, transcripts, and school brand names to assess job candidates, they were onto something. This book goes inside the Goliath and describes what makes Google a unique place to work, both in terms of hiring and workplace culture.

 

2. Managers, Not MBAs: A Hard Look at the Soft Practice of Managing and Management Development by Henry Mintzberg

This book will change your perspective on what an MBA is, what it does, and what it ought to be and do. A must-read for anyone interested in management education.

 

3. Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage in Human Consciousness by Frederic Laloux and Ken Wilbur

Imagine a company where the work is driven by a higher purpose, where teams set their own agendas, where individuals have autonomy over how the work gets done and the authority to make decisions. Reinventing Organizations casts a vision for the organizations of the future. This book completely rocked my world.

 

4. The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t by Robert Sutton

Don’t be thrown off by the crass title. This book is a gem. It offers actionable techniques for keeping bad apples out of your workplace and a wealth of advice to anyone who must work with difficult people.  

 

5. To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel H. Pink

Daniel Pink is one of my all-time favorite business authors. If sales is neither your area of strength nor part of your job description, you may be surprised by what this book has to say about how you’re doing your job.

 

For more good reads, check out No-Pay MBA’s Favorite Business Books. And if you have suggestions on good business books, feel free to share them in the comments!

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