Free Online Course for Entrepreneurs Seeking Growth

If you were looking for an excuse to try a MOOC (it’s a massive open online course), “Grow to Greatness” may be your answer.

The University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business is making its first move into large-group online instruction this month, with a course on Managing Magnification Risk. It will be taught by Edward Hess, whose “Grow to Greatness: Smart Growth for Entrepreneurial Businesses” was one of last year’s top business books.

The course is based on Hess’ study of 54 high-growth private companies with revenues ranging from $5 million to $350 million.

Growth Lessons for Entrepreneurs

Driven by a grow-or-die mindset, Hess says entrepreneurs too often spend themselves in trouble. Hess’ course will emphasize managing cash flow and moving from simple growth to improvement and thoughtful scaling.

Successful entrepreneurs use what Hess calls “the accelerator pedal approach,” which he describes as “letting go of the growth pedal to give their people, processes, and controls time to catch up.”

Growth requires increased delegation. Hess explains how founders make the psychic and practical shift from being doers to managers to managers of managers.

The upgrade never ends. In the companies he studied, Hess identified inflection points at 10, 25, 50, and 100 employees as times when things stopped working properly. “Successful entrepreneurs and their employees are open to learning and adapting in incremental, iterative, and experimental ways,” says Hess.

The risks increase with the activity. Hess will talk about growth-induced constraints on everything from culture to quality to financial controls. “I call it ‘what can go wrong’ thinking, and entrepreneurs can’t get too carried away with it,” he says.

The free course takes place in two parts. The first begins on January 28 and covers strategy, processes and operations. It continues for five weeks, with an estimated workload of four to six hours per week. The second part, scheduled for April, focuses on employees and leadership.

Darden reports that by the start of this month, registrations had already topped 60,000 people. Click on here for more information or to register.