The life and career of an entrepreneur is a very personal journey and the specific goals, rewards and returns are unique to each person. The main objective of the course is to teach the theory and skills required to own and operate a business to provide a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Lesson coverage includes critical concepts such as business plan development, sales and marketing basics, and basis of small business accounting and finance. You also learn about basic management techniques required to recruit, hire and retain employees, to manage inventory, and how to use technology as a tool to improve business results.

Course Details

Pre-Class Research and Assignments 

Readings and assignments are given the week before class. Based on class interest and changes in technology these may change. Plan to spend 2-3 hours each week researching relevant information for the upcoming class topic.


This course uses case studies from the Harvard Business School, experiences from successful entrepreneurs and executives, life-lessons and guest speakers to answer the following questions:

  • Why do so many early-stage businesses fail and how do I reduce that risk?
  • What functions are critical in my business and at what stage?
  • How do I plan my operations and put controls in place to make sure to hit the objectives?
  • How do I structure my organization, lead and motivate employees?

This course also explores various topics on how to efficiently and effectively operate a business, including:

  • The current opportunities, trends, and challenges related to operating a small business and the characteristics of successful businesses
  • Why some business fail while others are wildly successful
  • The key functions every business needs to operate effectively
  • Understand the key concepts of effective operations in various types of businesses
  • The essential components of a profitable business - including strategic and operational planning, profit planning, human resource management, physical facility management, inventory management, management information systems, sales and marketing 

Effectively operating and growing a business requires knowledge across a wide range of disciplines.  A successful entrepreneur must have a broad understanding of these topics to apply the right amount of resources and focus as they operate their business.

  • Previous participants of Essentials of Starting a Business
  • Anyone interested in operating and growing a business or service
  • Intrapreneurs wanting to make a difference in their company
  • Entrepreneurs looking to successfully launch and maintain a business
  • Anyone considering starting a business


  • Wickman, Traction, 2012 ISBN-13: 978-1936661831
  • Harnish, Scaling Up, 2014, ISBN-13: 978-1936661831
  • Drucker, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, ISBN-13: 978-1936661831
  • Collins, Good To Great, ISBN-13: 978-1936661831

Due to the high demand for courses, registrations are considered final as of 10 working days before class starts. No refunds will be issued after these dates and credits will not be given for future classes. No refunds will be granted for participants who miss a portion of a program. Refund requests before the deadline are subject to a 10% processing fee and must be made in writing to gscs@rice.edu. If books have been issued, the cost of the books and any shipping fees will be deducted. Refunds for credit card payments will be processed as credits to the accounts from which they were paid and may not appear as a credit until the following statement. Refunds for enrollments paid by check take up to four weeks to be processed and mailed by the Rice University accounting office. There is a $30 charge for any check returned for insufficient funds.


Applies Towards the Following Certificates


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