Can Entrepreneurship Be Taught?

The academics believe that entrepreneurship is a process that can be learned and executed, while the hardcore Founders feel like you either have "the right stuff" and figure shit out or you don't. This is one of those cases where both are right, but both are asking the wrong question.

June 21st, 2019   |    By: Wil Schroter

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The question of whether entrepreneurship can be "taught" has been volleyed back and forth between academics and Founders forever.

The academics believe that entrepreneurship is a process that can be learned and executed, while the hardcore Founders feel like you either have "the right stuff" and figure shit out or you don't.

This is one of those cases where both are right, but both are asking the wrong question.

What aspects of Entrepreneurship can be taught?

A ton, from how to validate an idea to managing your finances or setting up marketing campaign can absolutely be taught — and if we're being honest, are sorely lacking amongst most startup Founders today.

If you don't think those fundamental skills are helpful to building a startup, try not having them when you build a startup. It’s a painful missing element in almost every Founders’ utility belt.

Where are we confusing the topic of "entrepreneurial education"?

We often confuse "skills" with "talents", so folks are debating different things.

Skills can be taught. You absolutely can learn how to put together a business plan or a capital raise. Talents can be refined, but are largely innate. You can refine your creative ability, but some people just naturally have more than others.

The discussion breaks when we try to infer that we can instill talents that don't otherwise exist in a person.

What about grit, ambition, and resolve — you can't teach those, right?

If we're talking about deeply borne emotional drivers or fundamental personality traits, then no, we can't "teach" those.

Some Founders are just natural born killers and no amount of schooling will "gift" someone that level of intensity. Some Founders have a brutal origin story that caused them to have to fight harder than anyone else, and that intensity drives them.

While those are often common characteristics of successful entrepreneurs, that doesn’t necessarily make them requirements.

The focus for entrepreneurial education should not be about “making people entrepreneurs,” it should be about equipping prospective entrepreneurs with as many useful tools as possible for their upcoming journey. Some of those students will combine their innate talents to build great companies.

The rest of them will work for those students someday.

In Case You Missed It

How to validate a business idea the right way. Before you set up shop, your job as a Founder is to spend as many cycles as you can validating whether your business idea even merits a logo.

The entrepreneur’s guide on forming new habits and learning new skills. Master marketer Sujan Patel digs into learning new tasks and changing all of your bad habits to give your startup a fighting chance.

8 entrepreneurs reveal their #1 critical skill. 8 different entrepreneurs — including KISSmetrics Co-Founder Hiten Shah and CoSchedule Founder Garrett Moon — explain the one skill or activity they focused on that made their startups successful.


About the Author

Wil Schroter

Wil Schroter is the Founder + CEO @ Startups.com, a startup platform that includes BizplanClarity, Fundable, Launchrock, and Zirtual. He started his first company at age 19 which grew to over $700 million in billings within 5 years (despite his involvement). After that he launched 8 more companies, the last 3 venture backed, to refine his learning of what not to do. He's a seasoned expert at starting companies and a total amateur at everything else.

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