The other evening I was part of a discussion about business education and entrepreneurship. One of the participants made the statement that an MBA degree could not make you into an entrepreneur but if you were already an entrepreneur it wouldn’t hurt to have additional business knowledge.
I’m not going to argue with this statement because I think it is correct. But it does beg the question about what then do you require to be an entrepreneur? What is entrepreneurship? Even though you may have worked for the family business or a company can you still become an entrepreneur?
Some people believe that entrepreneurs and some sort of magical quality that they inherited and that others simply don’t. Why is it then that I have seen people who have worked for up to 20 years with a company going out on their own and being successful? Even one person I know worked for a family business was eventually left high and dry and although he did not start his own business he bought one second-hand and has shaped it into a far better business than the original owner? Yes, you may say that these people are not true entrepreneurs but rather survival entrepreneurs but I wouldn’t put such a fine point on it. If you can earn your income from your own efforts, whether you are freelance so part-time, in my books you are an entrepreneur.
What then is the basic quality of an entrepreneur? I don’t know about you but I think it could be that the difference that separates entrepreneurs from other people is the ability to spot opportunities. Think about it. Although it might seem basic, being able to identify an opportunity that can generate income for yourself and others is the start of entrepreneurship. This is where you can see that the entrepreneur needs to be a creative thinker because he or she needs to identify these opportunities through patterns, trends and come up with a creative vision to materialise or implement the opportunity that they have identified.
I’m sure you know of examples of entrepreneurs who have had very little formal education. Take some of the celebrity entrepreneurs who, for example, didn’t complete schooling. Did that matter? Not at all. They identified opportunities and got other people with skills to help them develop and grow their business. This is why actual business education is not a prerequisite for entrepreneurship.
The other quality that an entrepreneur has is being a risk taker. But there are also misconceptions about entrepreneurs and risk-taking. This stereotype is that entrepreneurs are big risk takers but if you look behind what they are doing often you will see that they are very good managers of risk. They know how to reduce or minimise risk they also know where the point of risk taking is most important. That would depend on the nature of the business and the required resources.
If even business courses and so-called degrees in entrepreneurship can’t turn you into an entrepreneur, then what do you do? You need to identify an opportunity, test or trial at to see if there is demand for whatever you’ve come up with is whether it is a product or service and then decide how much resources you going to put into your idea to turn it into a viable business.