A few different people have asked me “what sorts of things should be taught in a college level beginning entrepreneurship class?” I always had a few answers, but never came up with a comprehensive syllabus. After speaking in a class earlier this week at the UW Business School, I decided to write up a basic syllabus for a 16 week college course that I’d call Entrepreneur 101: A Practical Guide to Starting A Business and added it as a page to my site. I would love to teach a class like this on the college level for interested entrepreneurs.
Introduction to the Course
Too many classes focus on theory and large, overarching issues instead of practical things that you will need to know to start a business. Hopefully this class will prepare you to actually start your business by giving you the tools to do all of the nitty gritty work that is necessary to get started. At the end of the semester, students will compete in a business plan competition in front of a panel of judges.
Week 1 – Introduction to Entrepreneurship
Class: There are many types of entrepreneurship, not just high tech. It’s easier than you think and college is the best time to start. How to Live Before You Die.
Required reading: How to Start a Startup, What Startups are Really Like, The 3 Advantages of a Startup, Entrepreneurs Come in All Shapes and Sizes
Week 2 – Idea Generation and Business Plans
Class: How do you take an idea to a business plan? How do you write a business plan? Malcolm Gladwell on Spaghetti Sauce
Required reading: The World is Flat, 9 Business Selection Criteria, 13 Sentences, College is the Best Time to Start a Business
Homework: Start thinking about a business to start for the business plan competition.
Week 3 – Types of Businesses Organization
Class: What type of entity should I use? LLC, Corporation, Non profit? Learn how how to sign up for LLC.
Required Reading: 18 Mistakes that Kill Startups , The Top Ten Lies of Entrepreneurs
Homework: Sign up for an LLC, but don’t pay for it. Start working on your business plan.
Week 4 – What are the Necessary Legal Docs Required?
Class: Operating agreements, partnership agreement and their importance. Guest speaker: A lawyer familiar with these issues.
Required Reading: Top 10 Geek Business Myths, The PayPal Wars
Week 5 – Taxes, Banking, Accounting
Class: How to setup a FEIN, get a free business bank account and start learning about Quickbooks.
Homework: Go to a bank and get a free business bank account set up (you don’t actually have to sign up), start exploring Quickbooks.
Week 6 – Quickbooks
Class: How to use Quickbooks in a small business or startup
Homework: Create a Quickbooks file for a hypothetical startup.
Required Reading: How to Get Taken Seriously Running A Startup Under 25
Week 7 – Credit Card Processing
Class: Teach how credit card processing system works, fill out forms
Homework: Call multiple resellers and see who can get the best rate.
Week 8 – Servers and SSL
Class: Overview of types of servers, server companies. What is an ssl? Overview of ssl companies. Test on first half of class.
Required Reading: Don’t Be Afraid of the Competition, My Rules for Startups
Homework: First draft of business plan due
Week 9 – Overview of Programming
Class: Types of programming languages, how programming works works, explanation of databases, what to look for when hiring a programmer. How to register a domain name.
Required Reading: The Tipping Point
Homework: Register a domain for under $8.
Week 10 – Legal
Class: What to look for in a lawyer, what you need from them and the importance of a legal advisor.
Week 11 – Mentors
Class: Overview of why you need a mentor, who is willing to help, how you should look for a mentor.
Required Reading: Every Startup Needs a Mentor Team, The Entrepreneurial Push
Homework: Connect with a potential mentor on Linkedin, Twitter, email or phone.
Week 12 – Networking
Class: Why you need to network, strategies for successful networking, how to stay in contact with people.
Required Reading: The Business of Meeting People, Freakonomics
Homework: Get business cards for yourself, check out Brazen Careerist.
Week 13 – Blogging and Online Stores
Class: How to set up a blog, overview of WordPress, Blogger etc. Overview of online shops. Intro to Shopify.
Homework: Set up free wordpress blog.
Week 14 – Online Advertising, Social Media, Analytics, Document Sharing
Class: Overview of online advertising, CPM, CPC, Twitter, Facebook. Intro to Google Adwords, Analytics, Docs and Calendar.
Required Reading: Made to Stick
Homework: sign up for Google docs, share a document with me.
Week 15 – Guide to Raising Money, Office Space
Class: How to value your business? Overview of friends & family, angel investors, VCs. When is the right time to get an office? How do you get the best deals? Where should you look?
Required Reading: The Top Ten Lies of Venture Capitalists, To Office or Not to Office
Week 16 – Business Plan Competition
Final Exam – Business Plan Competition with panel of judges, based on Burrill Business Plan Competition.
I really think that this sort of course would be incredibly beneficial to a student who is thinking about starting a business or even thinking about working for a startup. These types of skills will give students a nice foundation so that they can start their own business. Check out my full list of resources on my Entrepreneur 101 page for links to all of the companies I would use for each of these lessons.
So help me out: What am I missing? Would you take a class like this? Do you think universities would be willing to offer a class like this?