So, You Want To Be An Entrepreneur
By: Christina Zha, Staff Writer
The entrepreneurial field is fast-paced and constantly innovating, so for young people starting out it may be a daunting task. Experience is an entrepreneur’s biggest asset, but how do you get your foot in the door and gain experience? Patricia Greene, the endowed chair of Babson College’s Entrepreneurship program, sat down with us to talk about the obstacles of starting a small business in a dominant corporate business environment and the importance of finding value when creating a new demand.
Professor Greene works at Babson College located in Wellesley, Massachusetts. The college offers a distinguished entrepreneurial program that was rated #1 by U.S. News & World Report, Bloomberg Business week, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Princeton Review among various other distinctions. As a professor and researcher, Professor Greene provides a long-term insight to an entrepreneurship career, from starting out as a student in an entrepreneurial program to graduating into the expanding world.
What are the top qualities of an entrepreneur?
To be honest, that is the wrong question. Anybody can learn to be entrepreneurial. It’s not identifying anyone, oh you are an entrepreneur, I mean what does that really mean? It’s working on building on a mindset and a skillset to look at the world in a more entrepreneurial way and to be to be able to act and have the skillset.
There are skeptics who believe entrepreneurship can’t be taught, instead it’s a practical skill that can only be obtained through experience. What do you have to say about that?
Who are the skeptics? It goes back to the definition of entrepreneurship, for us and for any school they have to start with what do they mean when they say entrepreneurship. At Babson, we teach ability to understand opportunities, organize resources, and provide the leadership to create something of value. That is a broad definition, but it’s a specific thing that you can teach.
What is the key to teaching entrepreneurship in your definition?
I think it’s an integration of theory and practice. Without theory, you are teaching opinion and war stories, basically I did it this way therefore you should do it that way. With theory, you have frameworks to help you identity the right questions and learn how to come up with answers. On the practice side, it’s about teaching entrepreneurship as a method, that you do get to dig in and try it and learn from doing at the same time.
For example, what does a curriculum look like?
It’s very different in different places. The more traditional are the business planning type of classes that are more focused on the business start-up. At Babson, we do focus on all different kinds of entrepreneurship. Every single freshman at Babson starts their own business in their very first year. At most school, it’s done in the last year. For us it’s because you get to identify what is the point of this, and you get a referral point the whole time that you are there. You can go back and say when we started our business, we did it “this” and I have since learned it should have been “that.” Or “Oh my word, I remember what it was felt like, when our products was stuck in a custom in China.” It provides a foundation for learning that is very, very different.
In a classroom setting, how do students learn the important skills? How are students tested?
It’s interesting that testing becomes an important part of this. In order to be at an accredited business school, you have to be able to demonstrate proof of learning and we had to dig down and answer those questions.