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Investigating entrepreneurial opportunities

This module addresses the crucial first steps related to developing new business ideas, implementing innovations and launching new ventures. It will develop business-planning capabilities, skills and understanding, including market and competitor research and the use of important financial concepts such as break-even and cash flow. It will lead you through a systematic process of testing your ideas and experience to arrive at a business proposition with ambitious yet attainable objectives. The module will help you to focus on your own capabilities and skills in project planning; business project appraisal; report writing; and environmental and personal analysis.

Modules count towards OU qualifications

OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate-level module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

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Module code
Study level
3 10 6
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
See Am I ready?

Student Reviews

I really enjoyed this course although you do need to have a business idea in your mind to do the...
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Well structured course - easy to follow, clear guidelines for setting up a new business venture. Good quality written materials...
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The course materials - and the underpinning assessment, moderation and quality assurance process - encourage students to be self-directed learners...
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What you will study

Investigating entrepreneurial opportunities provides a well structured and clear learning experience for people who are drawn to the idea of starting their own venture. This could be a completely new business, the commercialisation of an innovation in a larger organisation, or a new service in the social or voluntary sectors where there is a need to take into account the rigours of competitive pressures. The module will develop not only the necessary analytic skills but also a better understanding of the needs of market-based competition and the confidence to address these needs successfully.

You will learn to critically assess different aspects of the external environment and of your own resources and capabilities with the aim of establishing and sustaining a profitable new venture. In particular you will learn how to:

  • assess market dynamics, such as competitors’ and suppliers’ strengths and weaknesses  or market gaps, in relation to target customers and competitors
  • identify critical points of competitive advantage and business success
  • identify necessary base resources, capabilities and skills needs
  • gather primary and secondary information for use in customer segmentation, action planning, cashflow and debt management
  • develop personal and team attributes and capabilities for entrepreneurial success
  • develop the ability to set clear and attainable objectives and sustain self-motivation, focus and persistence
  • assess the feasibility of business propositions.

The module starts with a rigorous clarification of the basic business idea with respect to your own capabilities, external environment (focused mainly on likely competitive pressures) and available resources. After a reasonably sound business idea has been established, the module moves up a gear with a more rigorous examination of the proposed market, the marketing and information-gathering implications, and concludes with a robust financial assessment. The module is arranged as two blocks, each with its own workbook. The first block is Developing Entrepreneurial Ideas, which has five sections – the first three on different aspects of enterprise and innovation; the final two on market and resource issues. The second block, Investigating Enterprise Feasibility, has three sections – scoping the research, marketing research and financial viability.

There is a Study Guide on the website which will be a ‘living document’. It provides the rationale for the module, an outline of its learning objectives, a description of the module content and structure and indicate where it fits with other related modules. The Study Guide contains information on tutor-marked assignments and the end-of-module assessment plus descriptions of OU requirements and systems. The Study Guide also has copies of the checklists and models used in the online activities as well as copies of each of the TMA and EMA questions.

B322 allows sufficient time for discussion and reflection. The activities are online and generally take the form of interactive checklists or grids to support analysis. The structure of the module is iterative in concept with succeeding activities drawing on previous activities and in-text questions. The activities feed into the TMAs and, at the end, into the EMA. Indeed, you are encouraged to attach activity-driven analysis as appendices to your TMAs. In order to encourage reflection, certain activities return to previous analysis but with a tighter focus. As a consequence, learning and analysis accrete as the module progresses but without undue increase in workload. The purpose of B322 is to develop a robust and sustainable business idea and not a business plan per se. However, the analysis embedded in Investigating entrepreneurial opportunities supports the development of business, growth and marketing plans plus, above all, the understanding and flexibility for you to decide what is fit for your purpose and the right course of action for yourself.

Vocational relevance

The module is of direct relevance to people who aspire to start and manage their own firm or small organisation in the social sector. It is also suitable for people who manage innovation or new product units in larger organisations.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You’ll be allocated a tutor who will facilitate your tutorial group both through formal electronic collaboration and informally in the tutorial-group forum.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

The online tutorials will be linked to TMA preparation and feedback plus cover key concepts at relevant stages of the module.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in October 2015. We expect it to be available once a year.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

Course work includes:

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school


There are no entry requirements to this module. Although it requires no prior study, the learning experience may be richer for students who are familiar with basic business or management concepts such as those encountered on An introduction to business and management (B100) (or its equivalent).

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.


Start End England fee Register
03 Oct 2015 Mar 2016 £1350.00

Registration closes 10/09/15 (places subject to availability)


You may need to apply for some payment or funding options earlier. Please check the Fees and Funding information or contact us for information.

This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2016.

Additional Costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

If you're on a low income you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after you register.

Ways to pay for this module

Open University Student Budget Account

The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

  • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
  • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

Employer sponsorship

Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU qualifications are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to achieve one. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the qualification you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

  • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
  • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your modules.  

Credit/debit card

You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

We accept American Express, Maestro (UK only), Mastercard, Visa/Delta and Visa Electron. 

Mixed payments

We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).

For more information about combining payment options, speak to an adviser or book a call back at a time that is convenient to you.

Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2016. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

This information was provided on 31/07/2015.

What's included

Study guide, two workbooks, case studies, journal article prints, electronic conferencing, a website and web-based activities.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this module as the study materials and activities are accessible via a web browser. Any other computer-based activities you will need to carry out, such as word processing, using spreadsheets, taking part in online forums, and submitting files to the university for assessment, are specified in the module materials. If any additional software is needed for these tasks it will either be provided or is freely available.

We recommend either of the following:

  • Windows desktop or laptop computer running Windows 7 or later operating system
  • Macintosh desktop or laptop computer running OS X 10.7 or later operating system.

A netbook, tablet, smartphone or Linux computer that supports one of the browsers listed below may be suitable. The screen size should be at least 1024 (H) x 768 (W) pixels. If you intend to use one of these devices please ensure you have access to a suitable desktop or laptop computer in case you are unable to carry out all the module activities on your mobile device.

We recommend a minimum 1 Mbps internet connection and any of the following browsers:

  • Internet Explorer 9 and above
  • Apple Safari 7 and above
  • Google Chrome 31 and above
  • Mozilla Firefox 31 and above.

Note: using the latest version for your browser will maximise security when accessing the internet. Using company or library computers may prevent you accessing some internet materials or installing additional software.

See our Skills for OU study website for further information about computing skills for study and educational deals for buying Microsoft Office software.

If you have a disability

Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and musical notation and mathematical, scientific, and foreign language materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. Other alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future. 

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Find out more about our services for disabled students.