How do we ensure the right people become entrepreneurs?
The relationship between education and entrepreneurship is a contentious subject, as the values and skills needed to start your own business are analysed and dissected constantly for the next batch of business-owners to ponder.
Whether people are at a disadvantage for not gaining formal qualifications and an entrepreneurship education is a question and answer that centers around the idea of inequality, and whether we as a society are missing out on potential sparks in their respective fields.
For John Sculley, former Apple CEO and chairman, education isn’t the be all and end all of becoming an entrepreneur.
After all, the informal roll call of Fortune 500 CEOs that failed to complete their college or university degrees is well known: Bill Gates, Microsoft; Larry Page, Google; Richard Branson, Virgin; even Sculley’s late colleague at Apple, Steve Jobs.
“It’s not about the education, it’s more than that, and a number of entrepreneurs have dropped out of university and gone on to be very successful.”
The aforementioned list of people were all self-made billionaires at some point in their lives, if not still to this day.
That isn’t the only measure of success however, and there are qualities that you don’t need to study for which can help a budding entrepreneur launch their career.
According to Sculley “key things to have are an insatiable curiosity, to be passionate about something enough to attract the right talent and a sense of urgency to get things done.”
Another well reported element is to not fear risk.
“…you have to learn to fail fast and lean forward, that’s just a part of the culture of being an entrepreneur.”
That culture is hard to copy, and many of the traits shown by current entrepreneurs are intrinsic to their own personality, ie, they didn’t learn it via their entrepreneurship educational, and include the points made by Sculley in the interview.
However, the argument still stands that formal entrepreneurship education can provide you with a springboard, and whilst it may not provide you with experience of the real world as well as the real world, the networks you can become a part of and the lessons you may learn in a safer environment can only benefit your career trajectory.