Posted on: June 10, 2013
‘Entrepreneurship is, undoubtedly, the buzzword these days in the business education space. B-schools are leaving no stones unturned in tom-tomming their ‘Entrepreneurship Cells’, ‘Centres for Excellence in Entrepreneurship’, and ‘Family Business centric’ education. Clearly, the appeal of ‘running one’s own show’, ‘creating wealth’, and being a ‘job creator and not just a job seeker’ is far greater in the youth today, than ever before.
This brings us to take a closer look at the Indian B-school scenario and ask ourselves whether entrepreneurship can be taught… not just in India, but anywhere in the world?
“Yes and no,” says Prof. Bidyanand Jha, Department of Marketing, KIAMS, and Consultant for Strategic Marketing for Kirloskar Group. “Entrepreneurship is without a doubt the most dynamic force in the economy. It is driving the technological boom, which in its turn is driving much of the world’s economic growth. Entrepreneurship is a motive and drive – which is an individual trait. Institutes are interactions outside but do connect inside and create the environment. Entrepreneurship cannot be taught but entrepreneurs can certainly be guided and supported. Institutions can trigger thoughts and ability of the human, that potential entrepreneurs could turn into feasible business ideas, develop a sound approach, and execute it with success. But the drive of doing something of your own.”
Prof. Bidyanand Jha’s words make a lot of sense.There are talks about logarithmic study, big data analysis, and world reknowned experts claiming that they have turned entrepreneurship into a systematic, scientific subject. However, the very meaning and nature of entrepreneurship makes one wonder whether it can ever be bound as a subject at all. How is it even possible for an academic institution to say that we can turn you into a successful entrepreneur, when entrepreneurship is all about stepping into the unknown… conquering unchartered territories? On the contrary, guarding potential entrepreneurs against failure might end up causing them harm. They are more likely to fall into a pattern of endless planning and product engineering, without real-world experimentation. Entrepreneurship, in essence, requires you to prod and feel along, requiring you to be amazingly flexible and empathetic to the market conditions and response. It is Entrepreneurs who create case studies, and not the other way round. They hone their craft through experimentation and collaboration in the real world. They learn best by rolling up their sleeves and building companies. Yes they do need supportive mentors and a cerebral peer group, and an in-depth knowledge of business. But teaching students into successful entrepreneurs in the traditional sense seems wishful thinking.
“There is no doubt about the necessity of management for individual, organization & society,” points out Prof. Jha, while making a case for the importance of a top-quality B-school education for entrepreneurs. “The name of the institute from where you come actually replicate the quality of support and environment on which your idea is nurtured and magnified. While this might not be necessary, it does have a visible impact… especially for the proverbial ‘foot-in-the-door’. Institute’s can also help develop confidence and make potential entrepreneurs trust their ability while going through the scientific process of developing a business plan.”
So how does one recognise the entrepreneur within exists or not. Prof. Bidyanand Jha has a very simple formula. “Good times or bad times, bulls or bears, upswing or downswing; an entrepreneur will always see opportunities.There is no hurdle from the economy, if you have got to offer something that has never existed or is really exciting for consumers. Secondly, you are always looking at things as not how they are, but how grand they could be.”
While entrepreneurship is very enticing and exciting, only those with a huge appetite for calculated risk – and sometimes a leap of faith – should really go full steam ahead. B-schools are very good when it comes to grooming managers for a set system. When you are out to create your own space, B-schools can certainly give you the right peerage, mentors, sound knowledge of management, and even great credentials; but ultimately, entrepreneurship has to be your journey to see your ‘big idea’ through.