Posted by Marcel Sim in Entrepreneurship
Article Contributed by Chris Burgess
As the job market gets more competitive and the promise of a career for life goes the way of the dodo, entrepreneurship has become more popular than ever, with many schools and colleges now offering classes in private enterprise. Go to any bookstore, and chances are you’ll find literally dozens of books on the topic, each promising to hold the key to startup success.
But can entrepreneurship really be taught in school, or does it represent a more intangible set of skills that can only be acquired through real-world experience?
Educators will argue that learning entrepreneurship isn’t really all that different from learning business, and that most of the same skills apply. This argument is bolstered by the fact that research in the field has improved drastically in recent years, with educators now much better equipped to help students avoid many of the pitfalls of turning their dreams into reality.
Some lessons are still best taught outside the classroom
While it’s true that many of the skills that underpin good entrepreneurship, such as effective time management and financial planning, can certainly be taught, there are a handful of less-easily-defined skills and qualities that identify the real entrepreneur – and many would contend that the only way to gain them is by doing.
One of these is, quite simply, people skills. As an entrepreneur, it’s inevitable that you will have to deal with many different personality types. Virgin founder Richard Branson, who was actually a painfully shy child, was thrown into the deep end at age 7 by his exasperated mother: she dropped him off several miles from home, requiring that he find his own way back. He didn’t show up until 10 hours later, but in that time he’d learned many invaluable lessons on how to communicate with adults in order to arrive home safely.
Another is the ability to take on calculated risk, along with the willingness to accept failure and uncertainty. At the end of the day, you simply have to do it, and this will get easier with experience. Otherwise you risk getting stuck in an endless cycle of planning and product development.
Instinct is important, but data is better
Many entrepreneurs pride themselves on their impeccable business instincts and their innate ability to spot trends before the competition does. “Gut feel” is a good thing to have, but it shouldn’t take the place of hard data if available. One common example is underestimating the time and resources required to have everything in place and reach a state of profitability.
If self-employment remains your dream but your fear of failure is too great, there are still options – you could buy a franchise, for example, or partner up with someone with more business experience.
While there’s no substitute for simply doing it in some areas, the teachability of entrepreneurship continues to increase, due to the emergence of alternative learning methods such as role playing, self-evaluation exercises, and working with mentors. The result is that while not everything about good entrepreneurship can be taught, most of it now can. It just takes time, commitment, and acceptance that not everything in life can be predicted.
About the Author
Chris Burgess is the CEO of Mailplus and has extensive experience in the courier services and business-to-business service market, having successfully franchised over 150 territories throughout Australia. Mailplus currently has franchises for sale in all major metropolitan areas.