Can Entrepreneurship Be Taught? | Top Universities

Can Entrepreneurship Be Taught?

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Laura Bridgestock

Updated Mar 20, 2021



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One of the biggest myths about starting-up is that all entrepreneurs must be either autodidacts or natural born geniuses with a brilliant idea. This false perception that you need to be a natural to succeed unfortunately leaves many budding entrepreneurs woefully ill-prepared for the challenges of starting a business today.

Running a business is hard, but many of the mistakes which cause nine out of ten startups to go bust can be avoided with the right business training. According to a CB Insights survey of 101 post-mortem essays by startup founders who saw their businesses fail, rookie mistakes such as poor marketing, lack of a business model, recruitment issues, inadequate market analysis, running out of cash, and legal challenges were the prime reasons for their failure.

From learning to spend your cash wisely to writing a responsible business plan based on careful market analysis, business education can prepare you to thrive where others have tripped up. Of course, an MBA cannot make you the next Mark Zuckerberg or Sheryl Sandberg overnight, but it can give you the fundamental business and leadership skills you need to run a company, from managing operations and talent to generating revenue and avoiding legal or financial mishaps.

Mark Dencker, 30, from Denmark, pursued an MBA in Global Banking and Finance at EU Business School before launching Wiredelta, a web and app design and development company for startups.

He said: “Prior to my MBA I’d been working in investment banking, so I was on track to work in the field, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted to build stuff instead of just moving money around. “

Mark said business school gave him the analytical mindset he needed to work in technology. “Software and technical products can be incredibly complex. You have to peel layers like an onion to understand how different parts work together. An analytical mindset helps you understand not just the financial stuff, but also complex phenomena and how a software product is built.”

Business school gave him a broad understanding of how a business works. Mark said: “It’s one thing to be an incredible software developer in your field, but that doesn’t make a business. You need HR, finance, all these administration functions. A business degree teaches you how to speak with HR and finance managers and designers, because you have a coherent understanding of how business works.”

Dr Andrew Ward, a lecturer at EU Business School, believes that while some essential personality traits like resilience cannot be taught, business school can give the budding entrepreneur a foundation of the practicalities of starting a business that cannot be learnt in a book.

Dr Ward said: “As soon as a book is published it is out of date. So, as a teacher you need to have the practicalities of knowing why you were successful and why you failed and explain that to students. You need to have the latest information on entrepreneurship. Also, you cannot teach entrepreneurship like other subjects - you have to let students experiment conceptually with their ideas.”

Dr Ward issued a word of advice to budding entrepreneurs. “Be prepared to break some rules. Be prepared to fail. Learn quickly and bounce back as best as you can.”

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