November 20, 2007
Can entrepreneurship be taught?
I was recently speaking on "Myths & Facts of Entrepreneurship" in Entrepreneurship Summit 2007 at IIT Kharagpur (KGP) on behalf of NEN. Overall, the event was nice, but it made me think over few points.
1. Can we really teach entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship, as I see is,
- An instinct,
- An attitude to create something new,
- An activity which creates value in the entire social eco-system,
- A creative expression of interest in solving problems around us
Till date, I am yet to meet an entrepreneur who has been taught about this subject in a formal setting, and that he has actually gone out and done it, and made it successful. It is a state of mind, which develops naturally, based on his surrounding and experiences, which makes him think about life and career in a given way.
Such events (like Entrepreneurship Summit) can inspire someone to be an entrepreneur, make a person desire to start a venture, but I am not sure if it can create the state of mind.
2. In many cases, I have seen that entrepreneurship is not be plan. It is by destiny. There are hundreds of people who were pushed to the wall and were left with no choice to take on the world all by themselves. They rose up to the occasion and did what it takes to survive. Today we call them successful entrepreneurs. This again emphasize that entrepreneurship is a state of mind that is there or emerges under given circumstances – mostly adverse situations.
3. Most wanna-be entrepreneurs start off with a business plan which predicts his revenues, profits, break-even point and growth trajectory. If you see most successful entrepreneurs, they never planned, they dreamt. They created value and chased their dream. The dream was not the riches that entrepreneurship can bring, but a dream to dominate / be successful in a given domain and create value that can change the world. They want to lead.
For example, Bill Gates never planned to become the "richest person on the planet" through Microsoft. He dreamt of a PC on every desktop in the world! He worked hard to make his dream come true and reaped the rewards in form of the riches that he got in the process as a result.
Wealth is a by-product of entrepreneurship, not the destination.
So, the question again comes – Can you teach someone to lead, dream, continuously innovate, rough-it-out and fight back. I think – NO. You can only motivate someone to do so.
Your comments are welcome to debate my point of view!