Entrepreneurship can be taught. In this post, we provide six specific ways to learn.
- Develop skills associated with entrepreneurship. Get better at skills related to being an entrepreneur, and you will become a better entrepreneur.
- Learn by doing. By starting a business, you will gain valuable experience for each step of the journey, and become a better entrepreneur over time.
- Partake in a startup incubator. These incubators have many benefits such as mentorship and coaching to help you and your startup succeed.
- Surround yourself with other entrepreneurs. By finding your own community of like-minded individuals, you can foster a positive exchange of insights between startup founders.
- Finding a mentor. A mentor can help you by giving you pointers and watching over your back to avoid costly mistakes.
- Educational programs. These programs offer a more systematic approach to learning the theory of entrepreneurship before becoming an entrepreneur yourself.
Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, Bill Gates — Have these successful entrepreneurs always possessed their entrepreneurial skills?
Though it is easy to assume they had their entrepreneurial skills since birth, it is not necessarily true. Take the classic example of Henry Ford. Before creating his wildly successful Ford Motor Company, which not only became a leader in automobile manufacturing but also shaped the industry, Ford had already previously attempted to start a similar business but failed. Named Detroit Auto Company, Ford’s first attempt even attracted twelve financial investors before finally going bankrupt. None of this, however, deterred Henry Ford from eventually becoming one of the most famous entrepreneurs of the twentieth century.
Having done so, it is no doubt Ford had taken experiences and lessons he learned from his first attempt to his future ones. He became a better entrepreneur and is proof that entrepreneurship skills can be gained over time.
Now, the question is how you can become a better entrepreneur. Here are six specific ways to develop your entrepreneurship skills.
1. Develop the Skills Associated with Entrepreneurship
If entrepreneurship is made up of a collection of skills, then it makes sense that developing those skills will make you a better entrepreneur. Attributes such as management, communication and teamwork, are no doubt important to being an effective entrepreneur. We will be posting another article on the top skills and traits of an entrepreneur, so stay tuned!
There are many ways to cultivate these skills. A popular approach is learning through guides and materials widely available in print and online. There are various books and articles written on each of these skills, and a simple search on “how to become a better communicator” can yield many good results. Through these resources, you can specifically target skills you want to improve on or weaknesses you want to address. Another approach, if you are a more hands-on person, is to simply practice these skills on different occasions. No matter the method, as long as you put in the time and effort, you will not only become a better entrepreneur but also gain skills and qualities that will benefit you in other areas of life.
2. Learn by Doing
As the famous English business magnate Richard Branson once said, “the best way of learning about anything is by doing.”
Like many other things in life, perhaps the best way to approach learning entrepreneurship is by doing. If you are concerned about the possibility of failing, no need to worry because you are not alone. Many successful entrepreneurs did not succeed on their first try either. Entrepreneurs such as Henry Ford, Ariana Huffington, and Walt Disney, just to name a few, all experienced significant setbacks before finding their own success. This phenomenon is also supported by the numbers. According to fortune.com, as high as 90% of startups fail. This means the hard truth is that it is more likely your business will fail rather than succeed the first time you step into the world of entrepreneurship.
But what makes the 10% of successful startups different from the rest? Alongside factors such as luck, experience is definitely a differentiating factor, and what better way to gain experience than following through on your startup idea and become an entrepreneur yourself. Starting a business is the most realistic way to experience the whole process, from creating an minimum viable product (MVP) to raising capital and forming business strategies. After all, to be good at entrepreneurship, one first has to be an entrepreneur.
From the experience of starting businesses, one can develop skills for each step of the process that will result in more success next time. The key is to not be deterred by failure and setbacks and take them as an opportunity to learn instead. Remember you only need one success, and the more times you try, the more chance you have of succeeding.
3. Partake in a Startup Incubator or Accelerator
If you decide to build out your idea into a business and become a better entrepreneur in the process, then a great way to boost your entrepreneurial skills is through partaking in a startup incubator or accelerator. This is particularly relevant if you intend on pursuing financial backing from venture capitals.
Incubators and accelerators are programs designed to help startups succeed. Of all such programs, Y Combinator is often regarded as the best. They have helped many notable startups, such as Doordash, Dropbox, and Airbnb, just to name a few. Specifically, by targeting startups in their infancy stage, these programs are catalysts that prepare their founders and startups to face future difficulties. Not only do they provide working spaces, there are also training programs and mentorship to help founders grow as entrepreneurs. The structure of these programs will also keep founders accountable for their progress, which ensures productivity in your entrepreneurial journey.
Incubators and accelerators also provide for a strong alumni network that is helpful for future ventures or partnerships. Whether it is simply to get in touch with other founders to share your experiences or for business goals in the future, the network you get from being in such programs will definitely be a great asset. All of these factors described make incubators and accelerators great options to consider if you decide to kick off your business idea. Be prepared, however, to go through a competitive application process to enroll in such a program.
4. Surround Yourself with Other Entrepreneurs
Another way to develop as an entrepreneur is to surround yourself with other entrepreneurs and like-minded people. The reason is because this allows for a valuable exchange of learnings and insights between members in that community. That way, aspiring entrepreneurs can not only gain more knowledge but also gain emotional support by interacting with others going through the same process.
With people becoming more and more entrepreneurial, it is easier to surround yourself with other entrepreneurs. Perhaps you know a few acquaintances who are also interested in entrepreneurship, or there is an entrepreneurship-focused club at your school. DECODE, for example, is a non-profit aimed at fostering a community that is interested in entrepreneurship. Whichever method you choose to find your own “community,” this community will benefit you significantly in the long run.
5. Find a Mentor
A mentor can be a great way to learn important skills and mindsets to being an entrepreneur. Why? Because this person has already gone through the process that you are about to go through!
Your mentor should ideally be someone who has experience being an entrepreneur and can provide advice or guidance based on his/her previous experiences. When someone has been doing something for a long time, it is likely they will have valuable insights you can learn from. A significant benefit to finding mentorship is that you don’t have to go through this process alone. Instead, you will have someone who can watch over your back to avoid costly mistakes as well as give pointers on possible ways to solve problems you are facing.
How should you go about finding a mentor? Well, there are many options. The most helpful people are often the ones who come from warm introductions. Start by asking a coworker or classmate. You can even reach out to people you don’t know who has had similar experiences and seek their advice. Regardless of how you choose your mentor, this person will become a significant asset on your entrepreneurial journey.
6. Take Educational Programs
If you don’t think you’re ready to dive into entrepreneurship yet, or you prefer a more systematic approach, another way to becoming a better entrepreneur is to take part in educational programs at higher educational institutions. There are numerous entrepreneurship-focused programs at world renowned institutions, where they are offered as standalone entrepreneurship programs or as part of the business or engineering programs.
Aside from such programs hosted by institutions of higher education, there are also programs by private educational companies and platforms to consider. Some have their own websites while others are hosted on platforms such as Udemy. The purpose of these programs is usually similar to those done by universities, and regardless of which type you choose, you will be able to systematically gain skills of entrepreneurship while developing a knowledge base for entrepreneurial topics.
So, the big takeaway? Entrepreneurship can be learned, and there are many great options to go about doing so. As long as you stick to it and put in the time and effort, you will soon find yourself a better entrepreneur!