The debate about whether being a successful entrepreneur requires academic education is not a new one. If you ask someone, it is almost certain that they will know a few founders with no college degree, like Steve Jobs. However, recent statistics from 2018 showed that, in Europe, a large percentage (84.8%) of startup founders hold at least a University degree. So, the debate still continues to discover whether academic education is important for the future entrepreneur.
Of course, the impact of the pandemic on the mindset with respect to traditional education and business cannot be overlooked. During that time, thousands of people from all walks of life started their own businesses to provide solutions during the pandemic. Also, it showed the flaws of educational systems worldwide that came under scrutiny. Many began to doubt whether traditional education could prepare us to become tomorrow’s entrepreneurs, innovators, and leaders.
So, that begs the question, if academic education is not a prerequisite to entrepreneurship, what is it? Let’s find some things we believe can prepare someone to become an entrepreneur.
The single most crucial trait required to attain goals is determination. This, however, is not created in academic surroundings but is one of the ultimate deciding factors for success, particularly in an entrepreneurial context.
Openness to Failure
Failure is not an option in academic education. Not only is it not rewarded, but it is also punished. Failure, however, is ubiquitous in entrepreneurship, and someone needs to be open to it.
Usually, entrepreneurs fail multiple times before creating a successful business. Failure is an important learning process entrepreneurs must go through in their entrepreneurial path. Only this way can they learn what works and what does not by testing and tweaking stuff in their business.
It’s not surprising, therefore, that about 90% of new firms fail in their first year. In that case, entrepreneurs must not get discouraged, accept failure, and be determined to try again.
Empathy is a soft skill that has been undervalued for so long. It is not something that someone can increase by participating in academic education.
Entrepreneurs need to be empathetic during interactions with their team and their customers. While the demand for digital goods and services is increasing daily, an entrepreneur’s empathy is important to understand the thought process behind their customer’s selections to foster brand loyalty and improve what they’re bringing to market.
Entrepreneurs need to be sensitive to society’s problems and have strong problem-solving skills when starting their own firms. The world is full of challenges requiring to be fixed, and a problem-solver entrepreneur is suitable to come up with solutions to solve them.
Being a problem solver can be helpful even from the ideation phase. Acknowledging a societal need can be a great inspiration to create a business that can help. That way, they can both make a profit and make good for society at the same time. Finally, strong problem solvers can better handle new tools and deal with the day-to-day business obstacles they encounter.
Academic education can be valuable, but it’s not the only factor to consider when preparing future business owners. However, focusing on the growth of emotional intelligence and the willpower to keep going despite obstacles is also crucial.
Are you interested in starting a business but are afraid to do so because you think you lack business academic education? You are in luck, as the ENTRANCE European project wants to train the next generation of entrepreneurs with zero business knowledge. Stay tuned for more information!