Saturday, November 03, 2007

Can entrepreneurship be taught?

Here is that nature vs nurture argument applied once again to entrepreneurship.

Can you learn to become an entrepreneur, or must you be born with the entrepreneurial gene?

I will state up front that I believe anyone can - and should - become an entrepreneur. I'll tell you why and how at the end.

First a short piece just reported in Business Week (Oct. 29, '07), then posted on by Stacy Perman.

The title asked, "Can Entrepreneurship Be Taught?" This is an exploration of a new book by Professor Richard Goossen. The book is, "Entrepreneurial Excellence: Profit From the Best Ideas of the Experts" (Career Press; 2007). "My motivation was to talk to the top researchers and instructors in the world who teach something that a lot of people think can't be taught," he says.

There are a number of good quotes, in both Business Week links below that are worth perusing. I thought Richard Goossen's summary was spot on: "Goossen came to the conclusion that while there are several elements that can be taught to enhance the knowledge and success of entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship is something one can learn only by doing."

Yes. There is real truth in that from where I stand after decades of entrepreneurship. To me that confirms my mantra of, "Go! Get out there and start!". Quit thinking about it. Quit fretting. Bruise your knees and skin your knuckles. Make as many mistakes as quickly as you can with the least amount of financial risk.

You can teach entrepreneurial tools. I do it. The biggest payback I get is when I see and hear people throw off their self-doubt and embrace what's possible. That's where Richard Goossman's thesis and my genetic propensity kick in... accept the uncertainty, assume you'll make mistakes. We all do. But never let that stop you from trying, and doing, and trying again and again. That's how you learn entrepreneurship. That's how you learn life.

However, here is my reality check. You can teach people to be entrepreneurs. You can't teach people to succeed as entrepreneurs.

Why? I believe you need to love what you're doing to succeed in entrepreneurship and in life. I don't believe you can teach people what to love. Therein lies the nature part. The nurture stuff is easy.

You can teach someone who loves something how to grow it into an enterprise. I watch it day after day now. It's inspiring and humbling and profoundly exciting.

What do you love? Learn what you can then get out there and do it.

Your enterprise awaits, my friend. post

Business Week Magazine piece

Stacy Perman bio at Business Week

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