Can Entrepreneurship Be Taught?

June 23, 2014

3:00 pm

Should entrepreneurship be taught?

Whenever raised, this question brings on a passionate debate amongst entrepreneurs. Brian Breslin, founder of Refresh Miami and InfiniMedia, recently posted this question to his network on Facebook, which sparked an interesting debate amongst Miami entrepreneurs.

Some people were against the notion of entrepreneurship being taught in a seminar, saying:

“Nope. It can’t be taught, only learned (‘when the student is ready, the teacher will appear’ kind of thing… or more accurately, when the entrepreneur-student is ready, she will go to the ends of the earth and break down walls to find the information/figure out how to do it),” says Carrie Ann Mantha.

While some agreed that it can be something you learn, saying:

“What you are talking about is mindset and process. The process can definitely be taught. The mindset is something that I believe can be taught, but it’s really contingent on the belief of change. If you believe people can change the way they think then it should be possible for people to become entrepreneurial,” says Nelson Millan.

And then, there were those on who needed more definition to what entrepreneurship means, before they can establish if it’s something to be learned:

“I think you can teach somebody how to start and run a business. But I see entrepreneurship as that drive that leads you to start a business and run it successfully all on your own. It comes from within, you either have it or you don’t,” says Rodrigo Riggs Silva.

Before we go any further in this discussion, we must make a clear distinction between entrepreneurship and the entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship is “the process of identifying and starting a new business venture, sourcing and organizing the required resources, while taking both the risks and rewards associated with the venture.” The entrepreneur is the “individual who organizes or operates a business or businesses.”

“It is very important that we make that distinction,” explains Florida International University and MIT professor Robert H. Hacker. Hacker was CFO of the One Laptop Per Child Association.

“Entrepreneurs are created on a dinner table,” explains Hacker. Meaning, certain traits of great entrepreneurs are  learned during their formative years. “But not all entrepreneurs have the skills or tools to make their business work.”

That’s where taking classes on entrepreneurship can be a positive asset for an entrepreneur wanting to build a successful company.

There are over 2,000 programs in the United States alone, offering entrepreneurial programs for students. And there are thousands of books with tips, methods and case studies on how to be a successful entrepreneur.

“You can recognize an entrepreneur by measuring his  ego and risk profile. Great companies are built by entrepreneurs who puts the company’s mission in front of their egos. That’s the the common characteristic of the leaders behind great companies like Google,” says Professor Hacker.

You probably have characteristics of a great entrepreneur. But do you have the knowledge and are you best prepared to take make the decisions that will make your business successful?

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Camila has been heavily active in South Florida’s tech startup community, where she is a co-host of a local radio show called pFunkcast. Camila previously worked at Greenpeace International and the Organization of the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in various communication roles. A proud Brazilian who spent most of he life in Peru, she is passionate about traveling and documentaries.