- Compiled and written by Entrepreneurial Business School -

“Entrepreneurship education is a lifelong process. It doesn’t just happen by taking one course”

This statement was written by The Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education, Columbus, Ohio.  This institution, one of the leaders in the field of entrepreneurship education has done extensive research by using the focus group method with entrepreneurs across the United States of America.

Entrepreneurship attributes and skills should be part of each and every person who wishes to excel in the “New Economy”.  You just don’t become an entrepreneur after doing a short course or some modules in entrepreneurship. If you eventually managed to be categorised as an entrepreneur, you are only on the 1st step of the ladder to real entrepreneurship success.  There are also various grades of entrepreneurship – starting with the street vendor and moving up to people like Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Henry Ford, as well as our very own Anton Rupert, Tony Factor, Sol Kerzner and Raymond Ackerman.

Your progress on this entrepreneurship ladder will be determined by the effort you are prepared to put into your own development. The more you expose yourself to an entrepreneurial environment the more entrepreneurial business  courses you do and books you read, the better you’ll become.  Your success will also be determined by the effort you put into developing your creativity and intuitive abilities.  The other important elements in armouring successful entrepreneurs are the specific attributes they have, like confedence and perseverance. A sound understanding of a market driven economy is also of crutial importance. A succesfull entrepreneur needs to understand the rules of the game and the dimentions of the playing field. In effective entrepreneurship development programs, you should also be taught how to discover your real passions and how to skill yourself in business management principles and techniques.  All these attributes and skills are also relative, and have no boundaries.  You can therefore never be too good in any of the above-mentioned fields.  If we compare entrepreneurship skills development with the skills needed to have a traditional occupation, ceilings appear relatively quickly in the case of the latter. An accountant, for example, is limited to develop the excellence of performing accountancy tasks.  There is therefore a limit of how good you could be in accounting practices and procedures.  If the accountant wishes to excel, he or she should become an entrepreneur and develop his/her entrepreneurial abilities to its fullest potential.  Accounting skills in this instance will then only become part of the arsenal of skills.

In the industrial economy, entrepreneurship was generally viewed as a specific career option to choose from.  In the new economy, entrepreneurship skills have become a critical necessity for each and every person.  The Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education, Columbus Ohio, adds as follows: “When we think about the challenges of downsizing by big businesses as well as in government, the wise person asks where the jobs of the future are going to be.  Fear of failure is a mentality that leads to loss of opportunity.  For those advising youth about their future it is essential that we see entrepreneurial thinking as an opportunity rather than a risk”. The Ohio Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education also found that school leavers, who had entrepreneurship education, all had one advantage in common.  They are motivated to prepare for their careers via a specialised route – all their training are built on the foundation of entrepreneurship.  This Education Consortium feels strongly that a critical component of entrepreneurship development is creative thinking.  It is not enough to enable students to learn about “what is”.  Students need to think of “what can be” and need to practice creative thinking processes.  Education worldwide does very little about “what can be”, even though our future depends entirely on this aspect”.  What a vital statement this is: “Our future depends entirely on what can be”.  The present standard of living, relative safety, security and peace we are enjoying today, were made possible by our abilities to innovate, create and implement.  If we do not develop these attributes, we will never be able to face the challenges of tomorrow.

Entrepreneurship education in the new economy should be the house of knowledge provision, as apposed to a little room in the house.  Entrepreneurship education in SA is, sadly to say, not even a room, but a little outside building.  The result of this mindset is clearly reflected by the latest GEM (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor) report. Only 7%of economically active South Africans are entrepreneurs versus an average of 15% in the countries who participated in this study. Our achievements are therefore less than half of the average figure.  The effects of the above non-entrepreneurial culture are also reflected in the high unemployment and high crime rates in our country.  Most South Africans are looking for jobs, which are becoming scarcer and scarcer each year.  We are generally blind for the numerous business opportunities, begging to be utilised.  We need to create a culture where entrepreneurship education becomes the house of education, with other study fields, the rooms in this house.  We need to realise that we are far behind the rest of the world and have to catch up fast.  School leavers, as well as graduates from other tertiary institutions need to catch up on entrepreneurial skills.  An entrepreneurship-training course has become of critical importance for young people before embarking on a career path, which will probably lead to nowhere. Big organisations are still downsizing and employees are loosing jobs on a continuous basis.  Thousands of school leavers go abroad for a year or two; come back and can’t find employment.  Very few South Africans are entrepreneurs who create jobs – most of us are skilled in something, but are job seekers.  We drastically need to turn the situation around.  We need a situation where a critical mass of South Africans emerges to the status of job creators (entrepreneurs).  The solution to this critical problem is, without a doubt, in effective entrepreneurship education.  Entrepreneurship education needs to be viewed as the highest priority in our country.  South Africans also need to realise that entrepreneurship education is not a once-off affair, but a continuous process.  We also need to understand that there are no limits in developing our creative, innovative and entrepreneurial skills.  The more we apply and practice, the better we will get.  The future is there for us to shape.  What we do today, at this point in time, will determine what the future will be like.

We also need to realise that prosperity and peace are created by the human mind.  The more we stretch our minds and develop entrepreneurial attributes, the more the solutions to problems will follow.  Effective entrepreneurial education is urgently needed to shift the old paradigm away from only learning about “what is” towards learning and thinking of “what can be”.

It is also very interesting that 74% of the GDP of the United States is contributed by small companies with less than 50 employees.  The importance of entrepreneurship education, “the new area of education” as it is known in the USA, can never be over-emphasised in the new economic climate we found ourselves today.  We are not only behind the rest of the world regarding the percentage of entrepreneurs in SA, we are also behind in realising the critical importance of such education.  University, Technikon and College graduates should all attend a year program in Entrepreneurial Business Management, before moving into the mainstream of the economy. American research suggests that students with a solid entrepreneurship foundation are not only likely to become entrepreneurs – they are also better employees. This is probably because they now have a more sound understanding regarding the challenges confronting their employers and how they could help secure the future of the business.

The importance of entrepreneurship training in the new economy also goes beyond empowering people wishing to start their own businesses.  Entrepreneurship education has become critical important to people who want to follow the so-called professional routes, like becoming doctors, lawyers, accountants and engineers.  The financially successful professionals in the new economy will have to be entrepreneurs as well.

The corporate world, as well as smaller business employers, are now looking for people with entrepreneurial skills and attributes.  The specific name of “Intrapreneur” has been created for entrepreneurial-minded corporate employees.  It is of growing importance for big businesses, as well as semi-government and government organisations, to become entrepreneurial-minded.  The task is even bigger for the education sector, specifically universities, colleges and schools. This is a huge task because these bodies, generally do not personally have what they should teach – “entrepreneurial mindsets”.  We all need to create, innovate, invent and implement new solutions to problems and/or better solutions to old problems.  Effective entrepreneurship training addresses all these issues and provides the foundation for all people to be the best they can.  We all differ and have something unique to offer each other and society in general.  What is needed is a new educational approach from where we can develop the individual and differentiated talents more optimally.  The challenge for effective entrepreneurship education and development is to provide the tools, the principles and the skills to empower people to develop their specific uniqueness.  We also need to create an entrepreneurial culture, via education and training in our country before people can embark on the road to optimum self-actualisation.

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One Response

  1. Ron Tedwater says:

    Really nice post,thank you.

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