small business
Small Business

Can You Teach Someone to be an Entrepreneur?

Dear NJ Business Advisor,

Q: I am considering starting a small business, but don’t have any experience. Would taking a program on entrepreneurship at my local college be an efficient way to jumpstart my business?

A: Big businesses are clearly under pressure: Inflation, recession, restructuring, consumer confidence and a host of other factors are reshaping the corporate landscape. Amazon has cut 18,000 workers, Microsoft has cut 10,000, and HP, 6000. Even financial giants are streamlining: JP Morgan, for example, recently cut 305 of its workforce. In this climate, more and more people are seeing entrepreneurship as a way to control their own destiny.

Dr. Paul Pensabene, professor of entrepreneurship at the Larry L. Luing School of Business, Berkeley College (Woodland Park), outlines some practical considerations:

Reinventing yourself offers exciting benefits: If you have the motivation and passion for business ownership, then seeking out the right opportunity can be a smart move. As a business owner, you can control your own destiny, avoid corporate burnout, and create a balanced, purposeful life.

Launching takes skill and knowledge: Motivation and passion are essential, but they’re not enough. There are complex factors in launching a business, especially in today’s digitally driven economy. To succeed, you have to create an in-demand product/service, define your customers, find your market, understand your value position and distribution channels, and build a team and vendor relationships. Even before you do all that, it’s likely you’ll need a feasibility analysis, business plan, and launch strategy to secure funding.

How studying entrepreneurship can help: There are many entrepreneurship courses of study available across the country at colleges and universities, and even online. Some new business owners simply dive in and learn as they go, through trial and error. This can prove costly in time and money. Others choose not to “reinvent the wheel” and jumpstart their business by taking academic training to develop the skills needed to maximize their chances of launching a successful start-up. As always, finding the right program is a case of “buyer beware.”

Entrepreneurship courses focus on developing practical skills by using real-world case studies, exercises and hands-on activities designed to hone critical how-to skills: identifying and creating a product/service, launching and leading a business, team building, research and analysis, finding financial resources, marketing and communications, and dealing with risk. Emphasizing practical skills and knowledge, and turning to seasoned business owners enrich course offerings. The knowledge and skills acquired through an intensive program like this can help drive innovation and success.

About the Author:

Bruce Freeman launched and successfully ran his own high-tech public relations company, Proline Communications, after leaving a management position at a major technology publication firm. For 20 years, he served as Professor of Marketing at the Stillman School of Business at Seton Hall University. He is co-author of the start-up guide, “Birthing the Elephant” (Penguin Random House).

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