You Decide: Can Entrepreneurship Be Taught?
Are there elements of entrepreneurship that can’t be taught? Sure, just as there are elements of engineering, medicine and law that can’t be taught. And, as some critics point out, these unteachable elements involve people skills: for instance, how salespeople can figure out how to get to “yes” with potential customers after hearing “no” after “no.”
Consider some more numbers. Nearly two-thirds of high-potential start-ups fail due to tensions within the founding and executive team. Our research is showing that many of those tensions are caused by early, ill-advised decisions about whom to involve in the start-up and how to involve them. These are problems that founders with some entrepreneurial education will be much better equipped to avoid.
Every day, ill-advised, and easily avoidable, decisions are killing off great ideas that could help restore entrepreneurial magic to our economy. By educating founders about those kinds of pitfalls, we may be able to increase their success rates—and give the country a boost along the way.
NO: Victor W. Whang
Entrepreneurship can’t be taught in a regular classroom any more than surfboarding can. To learn it, you have to get your feet wet in the real world.
Why? Entrepreneurship is messy. For an entrepreneur, there are rarely clear-cut right or wrong decisions day to day. Real life gives entrepreneurs the ability to better make those kinds of judgment calls.
We can’t teach entrepreneurship in the traditional sense. But we should come up with ways to help entrepreneurs help themselves to learn more effectively. This means finding ways to provide them with a network of mentors and advisers and nurturing a business culture around them that says: dream big, open doors and listen to new people, trust and be trusted, experiment, make mistakes, treat others fairly and pay it forward.
Working this way means looking beyond the traditional focus on individual entrepreneurs and finding ways to cultivate the communities that surround them. But it’s a move that can pay tremendous dividends.
YES and NO: Dr. Greg Bier
While the spirit of an entrepreneur is something that’s intrinsic to an individual, the skills that allow that drive to be successful can be refined and built. Entrepreneurs cannot simply be “idea men,” nor can they be corporate “yes men” who operate only in their specific niche. Entrepreneurs must have both sides of the equation figured out.
Students who enter a college classroom must have an entrepreneurial spirit to begin with, if there’s any hope of nurturing and developing the student’s ability to grow in this area. But we lose sight sometimes of what can influence this interest. Some people develop an interest in entrepreneurship as a result of their environment or circumstances. Being unemployed, having a job that’s a bad fit, or seeing deficiencies in the way your job is structured can all lead to the desire to strike out on your own.
A traditional college classroom would, admittedly, struggle to teach students how to be entrepreneurs. Many school programs focus on teaching students business fundamentals: accounting, finance, management, and marketing. Each subject area is taught as an isolated discipline under this model, which is great for producing CPAs, PHRs, and other certified professionals. It’s intended to prepare students for a lifetime of performing a similar type of work.
This made absolute sense in former generations, when people entered the workforce with the intention of staying with one employer until retirement. In today’s marketplace, workers will hold 6-10 varied roles before retirement, few of them with the same company. This new job market has lent credence to the idea that each individual is managing his own career, not the career that his employer has created for him.
Because of this, the newest generation of students is seeing the benefit of being an entrepreneur. These students have ideas, and they’re seeking opportunities to fix things and develop ownership of their own corner of the world. They don’t yet have the skills needed to be successful as entrepreneurs, although they have the desire. This is where the new-school model of business education comes in – entrepreneur schools.
Can Entrepreneurship Be Taught?
- Yes (65%, 11 Votes)
- No (35%, 6 Votes)
Total Voters: 17