There’s a statistic going around that 90% of startups fail. Why is that? Well, the reasons behind these failures vary from an under-developed entrepreneurial skill set, to a lack of business acumen, to flawed execution.
The number one reason startups fail is market timing—this accounts for 42% of what separates success from failure. Next on the list?
- Team and execution
- Differentiality or uniqueness of the idea
- Business model
The truth is, entrepreneurship is hard, and requires a certain type of individual to develop an idea into a successful business. With the right education, training, and experience, though, aspiring entrepreneurs can better position themselves for success.
What Is Entrepreneurship Education?
Entrepreneurship education takes many forms, but the aims and objectives of entrepreneurship education are all about focused development. Entrepreneurs need certain traits and skills, business acumen and financial literacy, as well as an entrepreneurial mindset
Let’s take a closer look at each of these—what, exactly, an aspiring entrepreneur needs to learn, and how they can chart their path to success.
Goal #1: Develop the Necessary Traits & Skills for Entrepreneurship
There are certain traits and skills that form the foundation for entrepreneurship, and teaching these should be part of any entrepreneurship education program. These include:
- Creativity: An innovative idea and creative problem solving are absolutely essential for entrepreneurs. Creativity also applies to business promotion techniques and ideas for further refining and developing an endeavor’s focus.
- Curiosity: Most entrepreneurs possess an innate curiosity. Budding entrepreneurs should always be learning, developing their skills and understanding, and so on.
- Outgoing nature: You don’t necessarily have to be an extrovert or have a Type A personality to succeed as an entrepreneur, but you do need to be able to confidently engage with others, pitch your ideas, and be ready to compete.
- Patience: While ambition and quick decision-making are important for entrepreneurs, so is patience. Success can take time, so if you don’t have some patience with yourself and the process, you risk making reactionary decisions that don’t consider the bigger picture.
- Resilience: Things happen, both good and bad. An entrepreneur should be able to roll with the punches, and not panic or overreact. Entrepreneurs remember that every setback presents a learning opportunity.
- Risk tolerance: Entrepreneurship, in itself, is a risky business—you’ll need to be comfortable with that blunt fact if you’re going to make it big.
Goal #2: Develop Business Acumen & Financial Literacy
Another area of crucial entrepreneurship education concerns business acumen and financial literacy. Even an individual who possesses the skills we covered above will struggle if they don’t have a firm understanding of how business and finances work.
With that in mind, another goal of entrepreneurship education is to equip aspiring entrepreneurs with the knowledge and sense to navigate the business world.
Relevant business acumen factors include:
- Leadership skills, like commitment, time management, and organization.
- Financial acumen, including skills like budgeting and the ability to understand and analyze financial performance metrics.
- Strategic thinking—including adaptability—to understand situations and devise appropriate responses.
- Market orientation, or an understanding of an endeavor’s target market(s), those markets’ unique priorities, and potential competitors.
- Analytical skills to research and analyze data to identify cause-effect relationships or trends that should inform decision-making and strategy.
- Marketing skills, like communication and public speaking, technology and social media, and negotiation.
- Problem-solving, especially in terms of the ability to not be easily rattled—successful entrepreneurs are those that handle unexpected challenges creatively and methodically.
- Communication skills, including the ability to communicate clearly and persuasively, empathy and active listening, emotional intelligence, and open-mindedness.
Goal #3: Develop the Entrepreneurial Mindset
Take it from a legit entrepreneur, Sara Blakely (Spanx founder), who recently published a piece on MasterClass’s website describing how to develop an entrepreneurial mindset. She identifies four essential characteristics of the entrepreneurial mindset: the ability to confront self-doubt, accountability, resilience, and a willingness to experiment. Through entrepreneurship education and a little bit of experience, these characteristics can be developed just like the other skills and traits we’ve covered so far.
Here are a few takeaways from Blakey’s piece:
- Set clear goals. Don’t just set a vague goal of success—think about what it really means and how you’ll know whether you’ve achieved it. She also encourages “speaking it into the universe,” basically calling your shot. Tell friends and family about what you’re working toward, and they might be able to provide encouragement and accountability.
- Practice being decisive. Entrepreneurs have to make decisions daily, from dealing with minor issues that arise to big-picture strategy and growth questions. Especially when a business moves fast, entrepreneurs can’t afford bouts of analysis paralysis.
- Redefine failure. By its nature, entrepreneurship is a dynamic concept, so it’s important to resist the urge to see every metric or milestone as either pass or fail. In reality, most entrepreneurs can cite times in their development when some objective “failure” taught them a lesson their endeavor never would have succeeded without.
- Face your fears. Don’t let commonplace fears like public speaking hold you back. This can be difficult, but the good news is that there’s one simple, straightforward way to develop a more fearless mindset is through exposure and practice.
- Remain curious. Always be learning. Your traits and skills, business acumen and financial literacy, and entrepreneurial mindset always have room for growth and development.
Finding Entrepreneurship Education Opportunities
We’ve recently published a piece covering the types of entrepreneurship education, what an entrepreneurship education curriculum might look like—and how to choose which is right for you. In a nutshell, the types of educational options fall into three categories, largely based on where you’re at in your entrepreneurial and educational journeys.
Entrepreneurship courses and curriculums are becoming options for an increasing number of junior and high school students. Even schools without a formal entrepreneurship curriculum are increasingly teaching real-world skills beneficial to future business owners like collaboration and teamwork, public speaking, and creative problem solving.
For college students, there are more options for formal-type entrepreneurship education. Programs from a conventional business degree to a Bachelor’s in Entrepreneurship offer a structured curriculum with a focus on real-world projects, critical thinking, and project management—among other essential skill sets that benefit from expert, experienced guidance.
Finally, for adult/workforce learners, a number of methods exist for putting together a comprehensive entrepreneurship education for yourself. Start with Google! You can find endless online resources, self-paced courses and programs, and networking opportunities both online or in your area (in the non-digital world). You can link up with a mentor or seek out networking opportunities—again, these may be virtual or IRL.
NextStudios: By Entrepreneurs, For Entrepreneurs, With Entrepreneurs
We’re experienced entrepreneurs, here to help visionaries like you shape their ideas, craft them with a repeatable process, and move them forward with both capital and talent. Keep us in mind as you navigate the world of entrepreneurship education.
When you’re ready to start taking the next step, that’s where we come in. We’re passionate about developing a community-based ecosystem of entrepreneurs. Also worth mentioning: we provide an alternative to the traditional system—as we are the first Benefits (B) Corporation venture studio in Indiana. Learn more or reach out to us today!