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How Do I Learn Entrepreneurship?

BY BRUCE FISCHER | 5 MIN READ

An illustration of a hand holding up a lightbulb to signify how to learn entrepreneurship.

There is strong and growing interest in how to learn entrepreneurship that is encouraging for our future. I say that because starting new businesses is critical to the economy. Particularly, since entrepreneurs create jobs and start by creating a job for themselves.

Then we have mega-entrepreneurs like Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey, and others who have created millions of jobs. Nothing drives an economy like new job creation. It is really one of the best things a person can do for others.

Many people with good imaginations have a business idea or two in their heads that they want to act on when “the time is right.” Usually, the right time is now.

In fact, most successful entrepreneurs have a bias toward action. Procrastination is not an option. There will be failures along the way, of course. In Silicon Valley, a popular expression is, “Fail early and often.” The key is to learn from mistakes and to have advisers who can give you the benefit of their experiences. If you are open to advice, you can reduce the number of mistakes made and the scale of the ones that do occur. Get some good and trusted advisors to comment on your ideas. But above all you should take action. Time waits for no one.

What is Entrepreneurship Education?

How do you learn to be an entrepreneur? If you are a first-time entrepreneur, you will likely benefit from some training in entrepreneurship.

There are some basics in business that you need to understand, including the fundamentals of marketing, accounting, finance, operations, HR, and finance. A course in entrepreneurship can help you create a business plan. This plan can account for each of these basic business functions for your proposed startup.

To learn entrepreneurship is to take a mini-course in business. After all, there is more to entrepreneurship than a business plan. The four basic functions of management are 1) planning, 2) organizing, 3) leading, and 4) controlling. Each of these functions must be carefully considered in launching a business startup.

Most important for entrepreneurship is to develop a way of operating that moves the ball forward. If you are passionate about your business idea, it will be easy to sustain momentum toward your goal of a completed startup.

You need to be focused and to have a sense of urgency. The competition out there is trying to beat you since business is a competitive game. However, as with all games, it should be fun—and will be if you are a good player and the game is fair.

How Can I Find Entrepreneurship Training?

How can you get the entrepreneurial education and coaching to succeed at creating a new venture?

First, find a college or university that offers a hands-on program for learning entrepreneurship and that teaches business basics and guides you in developing a good business plan.

Then, locate mentors who have been through the startup process, and you will be ahead of the game. The mentors will be your coaches. I’ve known entrepreneurs who created a board of directors before they were incorporated in order to have the advisors readily available during the startup phase. Often, they are friends or business associates who serve as advisors, frequently on a pro bono basis during the startup phase.

At Elmhurst University we have several available sources of advice, including a local incubator and accelerator, and an entrepreneurship mentoring program.

What is remarkable about entrepreneurs, especially serial entrepreneurs, is their willingness and enthusiasm for helping first-timers learn entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs are exceptionally supportive and generous people as a rule. I strongly recommend that you find mentors for your entrepreneurship journey.

There are usually a number of things you will encounter that they have already experienced, and they can advise you how to be prepared to deal with the inevitable speed bumps on the road up ahead.

Starting a business can be a challenge and you shouldn’t and needn’t go it alone. If you have a proprietary idea, you should ask anyone with whom you share your confidential data to sign a simple confidentiality agreement. (Examples can readily be found online). They should respect your professionalism in requesting that courtesy.

Why Should I Be an Entrepreneur?

Most entrepreneurs will tell you that the creativity involved in launching a startup is a highly rewarding experience. The freedom is terrific, and the sense of accomplishment is remarkable. The remuneration will be there too, eventually, provided that you persevere and scale your enterprise.

You need to have some courage to make the first steps, but if you keep focused on the process it will happen.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are a lot of people willing to provide assistance, and I include myself among them. Entrepreneurs are a close community because they can relate to one another through their shared experiences.

How Can I Start Learning Entrepreneurship?

At Elmhurst University, we have created a part-time graduate certificate program in innovation and entrepreneurship that includes four eight-week master’s courses. Classes meet one night a week and can be taken online or in-person (or in a flexible combination).

We provide access to an entrepreneur-in-residence, mentors, a local incubator and accelerator, and faculty who are serial entrepreneurs. Our focus is on implementation and we are results-oriented. Let us know you are interested: Fill in the form below.

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About the Author

Bruce Fischer is the Coleman Foundation Distinguished Chair and Professor of Project Management at Elmhurst University. His research interest is innovation and entrepreneurship, and he serves as the director of Elmhurst’s Graduate Certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship program.

Posted July 6, 2021

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