Starting from the Beginning

Have you ever wondered how companies make pricing decisions – and why some appear to charge seemingly exorbitant prices for their products while others give them away for free? Have you ever wondered why certain Internet companies appear to scale so impressively, while others don’t? Have you ever wondered why established media companies seem so reluctant to “go digital,” even though doing so would save them costs? Have you ever wondered why companies sometimes (rightfully) turn away customers, even though they could profit from their service? Have you ever wondered what makes markets work well, and when – or for whom - they don’t?

Economics is central to business decision-making. It is also helpful in simply making sense of the world around you. In this course, you’ll learn a set of core economic ideas that are helpful in understanding how organizations make decisions about pricing, production, scaling, and differentiation; that are helpful in understanding individual behavior and the functioning of markets; and that can shed light on the range of questions described above. In the process, you'll learn how to develop the beginnings of a competitive strategy that can lead to a business thriving over time.

Business Analytics

Did you know that a staggering 15 petabytes of new data are generated every day? If you're trying to visualize this, that's equivalent to about 300 million four-drawer filing cabinets of paper. What in the world do businesses do with all of this data?

 

The answer may surprise you. Today's businesses are discovering new ways to collect and use data every day, which means that developing an ability to interpret data can lead to smarter decisions across just about every business dimension imaginable.

Course Flow

The Business Analytics course introduces quantitative methods used to analyze data and make better management decisions. We'll start by asking: “what do you do when you first encounter a dataset – and how do you make sense of it?" You'll learn how to summarize, visualize, and communicate information in a clear and concise way.

You'll learn how to use information about a sample to draw conclusions about a larger group - for example, can you audit a portion of your inventory and draw inferences about the accuracy of your digital records for your entire inventory? You'll also learn how to test whether two groups of data are really different - for example, how do you determine if customers' willingness to purchase increases if you change your website's design?

The second part of the course focuses on how managers analyze relationships among different variables. For example, how do marketing expenditures affect sales; or, what information about customers might help companies predict how many people will check into their hotels on a given day? Understanding how different types of data interact can help businesses solve problems dynamically and effectively.

Throughout the course you will receive clear guidance on how to implement these analytical techniques in Excel. Importantly, this course is not based on rote memorization of equations or facts, but focuses on honing your understanding of key concepts, your managerial judgment, and your ability to apply course concepts to real business problems.

Economics For Managers

Have you ever wondered why certain credit card companies are more likely to send you mail offers, the less frequently you respond to them? (Yes, it's true.) Have you ever wondered why established media companies seem so reluctant to “go digital,” even though doing so would save them costs? Have you ever wondered why companies will sometimes turn away customers, even though they would profit from their service?

In this course, you'll learn a set of economic ideas that will unlock puzzles like these. You'll learn about topics like customer demand, supplier cost, markets and competition. You'll learn how businesses think about pricing, production, and differentiation. And in the process, you'll learn how to develop the beginnings of a competitive strategy that will lead to a business thriving over time.

Course Flow

The first part of the course covers the fundamentals of supply and demand, where they come from, and why they're central to an understanding of business. What is the difference between willingness to pay and price, fixed versus variable costs, local versus global scale economies – and why are these economic concepts so important for business strategy? You'll learn tools like conjoint analysis and relative cost analysis, which firms use in a variety of ways to figure out customer demand or competitor's costs. You'll learn about new ideas – like complements and network effects – that companies are increasingly relying on to generate demand for their products. The latter part of the course deep-dives into the functioning of markets, the force of competition, and certain strategies for differentiation. You'll start by really understanding markets – what's magical about them, and when they go wrong. You'll examine seemingly esoteric concepts like equilibrium and self-selection, and the challenges they create for the competitive advantage of firms. And, you'll evaluate a range of strategies that companies employ to try to differentiate themselves in the marketplace.

Financial Accounting

Many people don't realize this, but financial accounting is the backbone of any well-run business. Be it a Fortune 500 company, a start-up or a non-profit, having a solid understanding of financial accounting principles is essential for making critical business decisions. For instance: The American Red Cross uses financial accounting to plan for more than 70,000 disasters each year; PepsiCo, a Fortune 10 company, uses financial accounting to assess performance; several small businesses use financial planning to figure out whether they can afford to expand.

In this course, you will learn the fundamentals of financial accounting from the ground up. You'll dig into basic concepts such as profit and revenue, assets and liabilities. Not only will you learn how to prepare financial statements, you'll learn how to read a balance sheet, how to dissect an income statement, and how to analyze a cash flow statement.

Course Flow

This course covers basic financial accounting. You will learn how to record transactions using journal entries, how to post them to T accounts, how to prepare a trial balance and then use this trial balance to prepare the Balance Sheet, Income Statement, and the Cash Flow Statement. The course emphasizes the role of managerial judgment in choosing accounting estimates and methods and recognizes that there is often bias in how accounting choices are made. Accounting concepts and principles are covered in detail.

Once you have learned how to prepare financial statements and understand the role of judgment, the course will move to financial statement analysis. You will learn how to calculate critical ratios and how to interpret the ratios in the context of the business environment. You will also learn how to prepare forecasted financial statements, and make capital budgeting decisions using tools such as Net Present Value and Internal Rate of Return calculations.

The course surpassed my expectations…I actually regret not having more time to fully utilize all the optional features!

Sarah Weiskittel
Boston, MA
Classics
Boston University