Teaching entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship should be “a general education outcome” for community college students, “like effective writing or quantitative reasoning,” some argue. “Better to train students to hang out their own shingles than to train them for jobs that no longer exist,” they believe. 

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  1. Mark Roulo says:

    I would start by asking if the folks teaching at community colleges actually know *HOW* to teach entrepreneurship. My guess is that most people do not … and the folks at the local CC are part of that “most”. Your typical entrepreneur is running a company, not teaching. So if we have these classes taught by people that have never actually been entrepreneurs, how is that going to help?

  2. Thinly Veiled Anonymity says:

    This plan might have the added bonus of helping with the oppressive edifice of regulation businesses face. If more people were of the mind that they could go into business for themselves, more people would find out that they really can’t.

    And that might lead to a change in voting patterns.

    This, of course, is why CC’s will do no such thing.

  3. Ted Craig says:

    The problem with this is that entrepreneurship isn’t really something you can teach. You can teach how to create a business plan and the basics of running a business. But studies show the difference between entrepreneurs and others is their risk tolerance. You can’t really teach that.

    • Being a bit on the absolute side, aren’t you?

      The skills that go into entrepreneurship can certainly be taught – marketing, the skill proximate to the enterprise, bookkeeping and other, similarly relatively mechanical skills. It’s also possible to learn, and thus teach, the less easily-defined skills like risk tolerance and assessment, self-assessment and flexibility. That probably won’t turn someone who’s poorly equipped to be an entrepreneur into a whiz but they’ll be better able to deal with an entrepreneurial venture.

      Whether community colleges are up to the task of teaching the skills necessary is another question and I have serious reservations. After all, the schools have no immediate interest in the quality of their offerings so it isn’t clear that the schools will strive to make their classes effective.

  4. Richard Aubrey says:

    Ted Craig.
    WRT risk tolerance: Not sure this is on point, but here goes. When I was in the Army, I went through jump school. If you weren’t in shape, the physical requirements were sort of tough. Six pullups, palm out, dead hang. Some other items. Technique wasn’t any tougher than other stuff you learn as a rookie.
    The difference is between those who thought jumping out of an airplane was cool and those who didn’t.
    Since we were pretty much all going to ‘nam, the additionial risk didn’t seem like a big deal. But falling is a visceral issue and going into combat is a matter of imagination, I suppose. Difference.
    Yeah, hanging it out there on a smile and a shoeshine is scary.
    You need to know bookkeeping and projection.
    You need to know your trade.
    You need to be able to sell yourself and your firm, even if you are your firm and your spouse is the bookkeeper. Or a commercial app is your bookkeeper.
    You need to know how to deal with other trades. If you’re remodeling a house, you need to deal with other tradesmen well, and you have to have contacts with guys who will do a good job, since it’s actually your work.
    And you have to not be excessively afraid of failing.
    Teaching a trade is only the start and the rest is a matter of personal characteristics and experience.
    I don’t know if business instructors have either.

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