Re-inventing the fast-developing entrepreneurship education sector

This blog post is part of a series of  real-time blogs, which review and reflect upon the ideas and discussions which have surfaced during the sessions which GLI team members have been present at during the GEC. In this blog post Jon Harvey discusses ideas promulgated by Bill Aulet at one of his addresses at the GEC, whereby Bill promoted a different approach to advancing a broader community entrepreneurial mindset.

Bill Aulet: Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship and author of Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup

By Jon Harvey

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In the past, entrepreneurship was seen as a niche field, not worthy of detailed academic pursuit. However, today, entrepreneurship is seen as the “new cool thing”, says Bill Aulet of the Martin Trust Centre for MIT Entrepreneurship, with demand for entrepreneurship education skyrocketing and outpacing the number of academics being fostered to teach it.

This has led to this gap being filled by entrepreneurial “storytelling” and, while useful at times, this has led to a lack of genuine frameworks from which potential entrepreneurs can learn and develop their own ideas and businesses. This ‘how I was successful’ attitude to education is not rigorous education but does help teach the value of entrepreneurial spirit.

Aulet explains his view that entrepreneurs must have a particular persona, and be as disciplined “as a navy seal” while possessing the “spirit of a pirate”. This is vital, because going against the grain as an entrepreneur sets one apart from the crowd, but discipline is also required as an entrepreneur still must follow rules and regulations to allow him or her to make payroll.

The entrepreneurial spirit can be found in the four types of entrepreneurship student that Aulet describes: the curious entrepreneur, the ready-to-go entrepreneur, the entrepreneurial amplifier and the corporate entrepreneur.

All of these students can take heed from an educating framework, with phases of nucleation, product definition and venture development to assist with areas of entrepreneurship specific to them. In this way, the framework is tailor-made for the individual.

Aulet emphasises that the next step in entrepreneurial education is the drive towards specificity and widespread availability. Online tutorials, as well as mini lecture series or “snack packs” will hopefully be developed in the near future to inspire and prepare a new generation of entrepreneurs.

He wants to make education available for more “hungry dogs”. For example, an adopted child born to a Syrian father and German Catholic mother, should not have had the resources required to become an entrepreneur, and he did not. But that hungry dog was one of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time: Steve Jobs.

However, the flip side of the coin here would suggest that perhaps taking entrepreneurship education out of academic institutions and making it available to the masses would encourage too many would-be entrepreneurs. Perhaps it would lead to more failure and even more economic troubles for said masses, who may not have the determination, experience or intellect necessary to conquer self-employment. Perhaps it would be better to enact more policies to encourage the fostering of entrepreneurship academics, so that the aforementioned supply and demand imbalance can be tackled within institutions. This way, the gap filled by “storytelling” can be filled with more grounded theory and frameworks from which entrepreneurs can build their business.

About Jon:

Originally hailing from Bath, Jon is a Masters student studying Entrepreneurship and Management at Sheffield University. Jon has a particular interest in social entrepreneurship and sustainability, as well as the study of entrepreneurship in the economies of developing countries.

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