Entrepreneurship Skills Can Last A Lifetime
The value of entrepreneurship
When it comes to adapting to the ever-changing and complex world of work we currently inhabit, the qualities of entrepreneurs are probably up there. After all, to cope with the demands of startup life, entrepreneurs often have to be open-minded, confident, creative, determined, and disciplined, all of which are qualities that are valuable in whatever form of life we find ourselves.
It's perhaps no surprise, therefore that there is a growing interest in developing entrepreneurship skills in young people, with a number of platforms available for youngsters to put their skills to the test. For instance, last year I wrote about the Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, which had attracted a number of young participants to develop unmanned technologies that are capable of providing high-resolution and rapid mapping of the oceans.
Similarly, the Hult Prize is a student entrepreneurship competition that attracts participants from around the world who try and come up with creative ideas for society's most pressing problems.
"If you want to learn about social entrepreneurship and you believe you can bring this movement into your school, just apply and we'll come and help you with anything you need, whether it's marketing materials, training, a guidebook and one-on-one support to enable them to do much more in their universities," Nelly Andrade Head of Global Operations at the Hult Prize told me last year.
In a similar vein is the Global Grad Show, which originates out of Dubai and which recently celebrated its sixth edition. The competition aims to support innovative solutions to some of the most pressing environmental, social, and economic concerns facing society.
They have teamed up with around 300 universities to uncover innovative ideas from students, graduates, and PhDs from around the world. As well as uncovering ideas, the program also provides a degree of support to help develop the entrepreneurial skills of entrants so that that they can bring their idea to market.
To this end, they also work with local venture capitalists to provide successful entrants with the financial support to further develop their idea, as well as expert mentoring to add an experienced hand to guide each startup. It's an experience that the organizers believe will hold participants in good stead, even if they don't continue their entrepreneurial journeys.
The value of entrepreneurship
"I think that the entire education ecosystem is facing a huge transformation as to the skills needed to be a valuable professional," Tadeu Baldani Caravieri, Director of Global Grad Show, told me recently.
"Entrepreneurship is a key skill for new graduates entering the job market today, and more and more corporations are setting up corporate venturing and internal incubators to support innovation, so this is hugely valuable, even if they don't build a startup."
New research from the University of Vaasa suggests, however, that once bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, it is something that endures throughout our career.
“Entrepreneurship would seem to lie deep in a person’s identity – even if an individual ends up in paid employment, the dream of entrepreneurship remains,” the researcher says. “Such longitudinal studies where the same persons are followed for nearly ten years are really rare in the field of entrepreneurship study.”
Desire for entrepreneurship
The research explores the development of entrepreneurial intentions, and the various factors that impact them during our life, while also investigating whether specific entrepreneurial education in our formative years can invoke a spirit of entrepreneurship that lasts a lifetime.
“Promoting entrepreneurship is a very important matter socially,” the researcher says.
“Entrepreneurship creates new jobs and general well-being. Students build their own professional identity during higher education studies, and therefore it is very important for higher education institutions to support students with intentions of becoming entrepreneurs.”
The research found that including entrepreneurship as part of higher education was crucial. It found that our entrepreneurial intentions are typically formed by both our attitudes towards entrepreneurship and our belief in our ability to succeed as an entrepreneur. Both of these, the author believes, can be bolstered during our student days.
What’s more, the researcher argues that this effort has a lasting impact, with the boost to our entrepreneurial intentions lasting long into our working lives.
“This is significant, because as a rule, entrepreneurial intentions decrease during higher education,” they explain. “At the graduation stage, intentions stabilize and remain almost at the same level in working life. For this reason, higher education studies are a particularly important period from the perspective of promoting entrepreneurship.”
For this to work, however, the paper suggests that any entrepreneurial training require a proactive approach from the student, as purely lecture-based tuition does not seem to have the same effect.
As well as entrepreneurial training, the research suggests that role models also play a key role in our interest in entrepreneurship as we age. This can come from our parents, for instance, but it’s also important that we have diverse sources of inspiration, as the paper highlights that men remain more likely to become entrepreneurs than women.
The availability of role models for women is perhaps especially important, as the paper finds less of an impact of entrepreneurship training on the likelihood of women starting a business. Indeed, for men, such training generally provides a boost to their attitude towards entrepreneurship, whereas for women the impact is mainly on their belief in their own competence.
“It is important for higher education institutions to identify the students with high entrepreneurial intentions,” the author concludes.
“They are likely to be future entrepreneurs, and the higher education institute can support this entrepreneurship process already during the studies.”