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Can we teach entrepreneurship?

Do great entrepreneurs learn how to build their business simply by taking some short programme or earning a degree?

01 December 2006

Do great entrepreneurs learn how to build their business simply by taking some short programme or earning a degree? It's doubtful. But John Mullins convincingly argues that there's another way to think about how to teach future entrepreneurs.
Can we teach entrepreneurship

HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I HEARD THE QUESTIONS:



  • Entrepreneurship is mostly about luck, isn’t it?
  • Successful entrepreneurs are born, not made,aren’t they?
  • Isn’t entrepreneurship about being in the right place at the right time with a product or service that customers just happen to love?

Richard Branson and Virgin. Steve Jobs with Apple. Bill Gates of Microsoft. Most people, I suspect, credit their success to factors other than having been “taught” entrepreneurship. Surely, any self respecting entrepreneur will “just go ahead and do it” – not spend months or years studying the subject. In short, the central question I’ve heard over and over is simply: can entrepreneurship be taught? Allow me to split a few hairs right away. If the core question means, “Can you teach someone to be an entrepreneur?” the answer is “Probably not.” It takes healthy doses of motivation, persistence, tolerance of ambiguity (and more) to be a successful entrepreneur. Simply put, following an entrepreneurial career path is not for everyone. But if the question is whether we can better equip those who choose to follow an entrepreneurial path – to avoid at least some of the bumps, bruises and scars that are sure to come – then there’s considerable evidence that the answer is emphatically “yes”! In this light, we can, indeed, teach entrepreneurship.

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