Our island, Saint Lucia, has seen many changes recently due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. One major change has been the uptake of people looking to take on more entrepreneurial ventures and develop new small and medium sized businesses. With more and more new registered businesses and entrepreneurs in our communities , we are going to look into the importance of entrepreneurial education in our ecosystem, and by large, our society.
Many popular entrepreneurs have been successful despite not pursuing higher education, for example, Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), dropped out of college and Richard Branson (Virgin Group) never went to college. Both these successful entrepreneurs did not require college or university degrees to achieve their goals, however they gained other valuable knowledge and skills through entrepreneurial education. In order to better understand what entrepreneurial education is, we must first look at what elements make up its core.
Entrepreneurial education focuses on developing real-world skills that will help business minded individuals to lower the risk of failure and achieve specific goals or milestones. Some of the topics covered are:
How to use your curiosity and creativity to find innovative approaches and solutions to difficult decisions or problems.
How to solve real, complex issues that do not have a definitive answer
How to use marketing and social media as an advocacy tool
Understanding the development cycle of entrepreneurship
Knowing the different available options for financing and when to apply for them
How to speak in public and prepare effective presentations
How to collaborate with key stakeholders and other ventures
How to collect and analyze data
These elements listed above are only a few of the vast options available in our society for developmental success. Entrepreneurial education does not just benefit those who choose to be a business owner or partner, but rather can benefit anyone looking to enter any field. Here are five benefits that entrepreneurial education provide:
1. Prepares us for an uncertain future We currently live in an age of unpredictability and fast paced technological changes. Today's society faces an uncertain future filled with complex global, social and environmental issues. Entrepreneurship-focused education can teach individuals crucial life and survival skills that can help them navigate the uncertain future. Some of the skills that are developed are problem-solving, teamwork, empathy, acceptance of failure and how to use creativity for change.
2. Develops creativity and collaboration
Entrepreneurial education encourages creativity, innovation and collaboration. These attributes are highly valued by the top firms in the world and by financial institutions looking to invest.
3. Teaches problem identification
While problem solving has been taught in educational institutions for years, the same can not be said for problem identification . Traditionally , problem solving is taught by presenting individuals with issues that already exist in society. In the real world , new problems arise daily, and can only be solved when they have properly been identified and defined. Entrepreneurial education teaches us to identity issues that have not yet been created, a skill that will prove very valuable with our current uncertainty of the future.
4. Develops grit
"Grit" may be the single most important factor in a person's long term success according to Angela Duckworth, a researcher and professor of psychology at the University Pennsylvania. Her research shows that grades, intelligence and socioeconomic status do not stack up to the characteristic she defines as "grit" According to Duckworth, grit consists of passion and sustained persistence applied to a long-term achievement. The demanding and uncertain entrepreneurship journey requires this passion and sustained persistence to reach the goals we desire. That makes an entrepreneurial focused educational program ideal for developing grit.
5. Makes our society a better place
While every individual can benefit from entrepreneurial education, society as a whole, will benefit from a collective that chooses to help ease the burdens we face. Entrepreneurial education also is free from gender stereotypes and social pressures, which allows the ability to further develop fair and equal rights.
There are numerous other benefits to entrepreneurial education for our society, especially for our youth, who are the future. Entrepreneurial education offers real world developmental skills and knowledge that reduces risks, and creates a higher chance for success. The development of entrepreneurial knowledge does not have to make an individual an entrepreneur, but it will foster an entrepreneurial attitude that leads to excellence in our daily lives. With all the changes and consistent uncertainty in our society, the need of entrepreneurial education is vastly important for us to not only survive but thrive in this new normal.