Can you teach someone to be an Entrepreneur?

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It's a usual writing pattern to start out with a question and then take the reader down the path of looking at the different sides of the issue before the author finally gives the reader the answer. Lets change that up a little bit.

If by "teaching," you mean the traditional idea that education is the process of taking young skulls full of mush and cramming them full of facts, figures, principles and processes that they can later regurgitate on a nicely gradable form of test, then no, I don't think that it's possible to teach entrepreneurialism.

But let's move past that limited thinking and look at whether we can effectively teach a generation to venture out into this area of entrepreneurship. 

I believe that most people naturally have a creative and entrepreneurial spirit, and many of them have great ideas, but what they don’t have are:

1. A practice environment, a place where they have the opportunity to voice their ideas without fear of someone who has never tried to make something themselves squashing their idea out of a warped sense of justifying their own metiority. but have the idea criticized and honed by others who because they are creating themselves aren't threatened by the success of others. An environment where they are allowed to fail without judgement 

2. Someone who teaches them the practical technical skills needed in order to take this idea and actually make it into reality. The basic skills needed to run startup a venture, the skills needed to run a business. This isn't teaching them entrepreneurship, but it is teaching them the skills needed to make sure that their innate entrepreneurial spirit doesn’t get wasted

3. Show them how to look at the world. Sure, you can teach them the skills needed to run a business, but can you teach someone to recognize ‘entrepreneurial opportunity’ - the step before entrepreneurial action?

Simply get students thinking in an entrepreneurial way — get them looking for problems and searching for ways to solve them.

Having that mindset will help them regardless of whether they start their own company, become an employee of an existing company, or even in solving, say, social problems in their communities, No matter what career they choose, it’s important for young people to look at the world through the lens of an entrepreneur.

4. Practice, Practice, Practice. 
The old ways of teaching entrepreneurship with war stories of successful entrepreneurs and a mindset and theories taught in a straight line from the practice of large, existing organizations is dying

I don't think we can teach entrepreneurialism through the traditional model of education, but I do believe that we can facilitate this learning through experiential pedagogy by allowing them to take action and try things out.  teach entrepreneurship with a focus on bringing action and ‘doing’ into the classroom.

We can give them an environment to allow it and the skills to make the most of it but we also have to have a way for those seeds to be planted such that the teaching someone to be ‘entrepreneurial’ becomes about them teaching and learning on their own through ‘doing.’ 

Ever tried teaching how to ride a bicycle in a classroom? It really doesn't matter how much or how well you can teach the theory of why and how a bicycle stays upright, far better to get them outside on a bicycle, trying it, falling down, wobbling and then finally succeeding, then bring them into the classroom and explain to them the physics principles involved in riding a bike. 

Through traditional education you can give them some of the tools needed to succeed, but you also have to get them to see the world differently. It’s both about teaching individuals to build ventures but also teaching them to think and act in an entrepreneurial way. Thinking entrepreneurially is something that everyone can do, but most don't. We need to get people to engage their creative spirit and and then build something that doesn't currently exist except in their imagination. 

This believe and dream for helping people unlock the potential of their creative and entrepreneurial capabilities is why I love working with programs like the Entrepreneurial Program at Hope College This program is the vision of Steve Vanderveen who has been creating a environment of allowing students to learn and grow not through sitting through lectures but by taking their ideas out into the real world and testing them out, to get them to not just engage the idea but to engage the community, to work with mentors and coaches who have experience who will guide them on their way. Steve's Program has launched numerous successful ventures started by students while still in college.

Entrepreneurship education must move beyond the classroom. 

It needs to be brought into the world where business happens. In an academic setting, students will learn, sure, but I don’t know how much they’re going to be inspired or how much they’ll retain.


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