Entrepreneurship may be the biggest myth of our time, but it is worth teaching still.
I say this because less than 10% businesses owned by new entrepreneurs actually succeed. Also, the road to entrepreneurship is actually all sweat and tears, and involves mundane things like legal details and cost controls, rather than how it's generally portrayed, a world beating idea coming out of dorm rooms. The world isn't silicon valley, and there are big businesses which usually bully the smaller ones out the moment an interesting opportunity arises. For all the disruptive force of a Facebook or a Google, which powered themselves into the Global Top 10 brands quite quickly, Fortune 500, where real numbers matter, are increasingly resilient. And, when one rules out United States of America and a few other countries like Israel, Entrepreneurship seems to be a sure way to destitution rather than a limousine drive to Heaven. This is not what the conservative politicians want you to think - indeed, they may be sincere in their thinking as entrepreneurship mostly means to them stepping int family businesses - and they exhort people to take the risks and build the surrounding mythologies. All that romanticism, one has to remember, usually distill down to the month-end worries of finding money for payroll, no less heroic indeed, but not easy by any description.
This gap between the reality and the romantic vision of entrepreneurship makes me believe that there is a very real requirement of an education designed for entrepreneurs. This thing about being creative and taking the random plunge is nonsense, and only careful thinking and preparation can make an entrepreneur have a realistic chance of success. And, yes, this is not just about instinct but preparation, thought and being able to see beyond the obvious, as in many other trades. Following this, I also have very distinct views of what the entrepreneurship training should contain, and indeed, that's not limited to double-entry book keeping.
One of the strangest thing about British attempts to train its entrepreneurs is its classically limited view of what entrepreneurship is. This is no surprise as these efforts are usually led by people who have never been entrepreneurs in their lives. What gets lost in the romanticism of entrepreneurship is that there is a difference between being a bohemian and an entrepreneur, and the entrepreneurs are usually just the regular people with an independent view about the world around them. This independence needs to be nurtured and unleashed, and training for entrepreneurship isn't about how to keep books, but how to tame the forces of finance and channel it to the efforts of creation of something real. It is not about creating a multi-level myth, but exploration of heroics in the mundaneness of entrepreneurial life. It is not about being offbeat, but about exploring the meaning of independence. It should have more to do with philosophy and leadership rather than book-keeping and sales skills: They usually follow.
As evident, I have many problems with the current system of educating entrepreneurs, but one is pretty basic: The starting point of most of these efforts is that entrepreneurship is all about making money. It is counter-intuitive, as most programmes will start with the blabber about how entrepreneurs change the world, and then, bang, the first real starting point is that this is all about money. Again, entrepreneurship is not about buying lottery tickets - I would like to scream - and in most cases, one has better chances of winning lottery than getting a business right. The purpose, which makes entrepreneurship such a life-force in our bloated economies, is lost at the very start. Indeed, we shouldn't expect more from people who never had a stab at entrepreneurship themselves (I speak with the authority of a failed entrepreneur, who never gave up trying), but real entrepreneurs start with a purpose in mind. Money is just one of the things they have to find, like people, premises and technology, and having more money in the end comes in the bundle of other things, like Customers that love you, a legacy of sorts and a satisfaction few other things can beat. It is indeed about changing your world, even if that means selling better fish and chips in the locality that you live in.
So, I am trying to design an education for entrepreneurs, which will take them through a series of business opportunities, case studies of successful and failed businesses, real walk-through of sales and marketing, accounting, legal and HR processes, face to face interactions with people who created successful businesses and people who failed, an understanding of our world and how one should change it, and the like. This will be about meeting people and working with them, not against them: This is about searching and finding a vision, working together to build a better product, a better-off customer, and through them, a better world. This course will use technology as an enabler, and explore technology-enabled real businesses along the way. This will be about starting a conversation which does not end with the completion of the programme, but just takes a different shape. And, this I am planning to put at the heart of whatever we do in our new business.
Popular posts from this blog
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the quote below: "I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation." The email requested me to forward me to every indian I know. I was tempted, but there were two oddities about this quote. First, the language, which
Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are usually seen as an ‘advertising, sales promotion and marketing communication medium’ (Cooper et al , 1991). Arunthanes et al (1994) points out that such gifting is practised usually for three reasons: (a) in appreciation for past client relationships, placing a new order, referrals to other clients, etc.; (b) in the hopes of creating a positive, first impression which might help to establish an initial business relationship; and (c) giving may be perceived as a quid Pro quo (i.e. returning a favour or expecting a favour in return for something). The practitioners of gift-giving generally argue that doing business is often an aggregation of personal interactions and relationships, and gift-giving should be seen as a natural way of maintaining and enhancing these relationships. ‘Business gifts, especially one given in the course of the festive s
Buzzwords have disadvantages. Right now, experiential learning is one, and that means we put the label on everything and it stops to mean anything. Also, this means reasonable conversation about experiential learning becomes difficult - at times such as this, either you preach experiential learning or you are traditional, antiquarian and hopelessly out of touch. But, overlooking the limitations of experiential learning can cause big problems. Experiential Learning does many things - putting practice at the heart of learning is an important paradigm shift - but not everything, and it is important to be aware what it does not do. Usually, we equate the terms Project-based Learning (the method) with Experiential Learning (the idea) and Learning from Experience (the ideal), treating them as one and the same and using the terms interchangeably. Any talk about distinctive meaning of these terms is usually seen as pedantic, but really represent very different ideas about education.
Today, Helen Goddard, 26, a highly popular music teacher of a City School for Girls, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison. Her crime was to carry out a year long lesbian affair with one of her pupils, who appeared in the court and admitted that the affair was consensual and it was she who pressured Helen into the affair. For Helen, a bright musician and a devout Chistian, this is an extraordinary lapse of judgement. Also, she was teaching in the £13,000 private girls only school in London. She was surely aware what the consequences of her action will be. The fact that she still could not stop herself tells us that lovers do not always act rationally, something we always knew. There is more in this affair than personal tragedies. For a start, this has all the dramatic elements: a bright, beautiful teacher more in Julia Roberts mould [as in Mona Lisa Smile], a stiff upper lip school [not unlike Wellesley] and a story like Notes On A Scandal with an added twist. Indeed, Helen
In most societies today, making profits are accepted as moral, if not especially praiseworthy. This was not as obvious as it appears today – people used to be embarrassed about making a profit not so long ago. Crazy as it seems today, it is worth thinking why it was so. Profits, as economists will put it, is the reward for risk-taking, for putting a business enterprise together in the pursuit of an objective. In this definition, remember, profits are not what it is commonly understood to be – the gross middle-line towards the bottom – but a figure net of entrepreneur’s earning [wages for his labour], dividends and interests on borrowed capital, and provisions for building and other physical assets [a sort of rent, offsetting what these assets could have earned if leased out]. This pure profit – surplus – accrues to a business as a reward to its organisation, for the act of entrepreneurship itself. Economists were divided on how this surplus comes about. The conventional wisdom was,
There is no other city like Kolkata for me: It is Home. The only city where I don't have to find a reason to go to, or to love. It is one city hardwired into my identity, and despite being away for a decade, that refuses to go away. People stay away from their homeland for a variety of reasons. But, as I have come to feel, no one can be completely happy to be away. One may find fame or fortune, love and learning, in another land, but they always live an incomplete life. They bring home broken bits of their homeland into their awkward daily existence, a cushion somewhere, a broken conversation in mother tongue some other time, always rediscovering the land they left behind for that brief moment of wanting to be themselves. The cruelest punishment, therefore, for a man who lives abroad is when his love for his land is denied. It is indeed often denied, because the pursuit of work, knowledge or love seemed to have gotten priority over the attraction of the land. This is particularly
Introduction: Hastings in the history of Indian Education Whether or not one includes Warren Hastings in the history of Education in India is a matter of perspective. If writing the history of education means writing the history of schools, the impact of Hastings' administration would be quite limited. If anything, the rapid implosion of local rulers in Eastern, Southern and Northern India during Hastings' tenure had meant a bleak period for the indigenous education system, as patronage and funds would have dwindled away for many of them. The Company administration really concerned itself with the schooling of the natives only after 1813, as Nurullah and Naik rightly pointed out ( see my earlier post ) and one can legitimately start the story at this point. However, if history of Education in India is to encompass the transformation of Indian Scholarship, on which foundation the new, colonial, system of Education would be built, the story must start with Warren Hast
Introduction Erna Petri née Kürbs, a farmer’s daughter from Herressen in Thuringia, arrived in Ukraine with her three year old son to join her husband Horst in June 1942. Horst, an SS leader inspired by Nazi ideologue Dr Richard Walter Darré, settled in the plantation of Grzenda, just outside today’s Lviv, to become a German Gentleman-Farmer. Erna saw Horst beating and abusing the workers in the plantation within two days of arriving there, which was, as Horst explained, necessary for establishing authority. Erna joined in enthusiastically, settling into a combination of roles of ‘plantation mistress, prairie Madonna in apron-covered dress lording over slave labourers, infant-carrying, gun-wielding Hausfrau.’  However, there were clear rules in the plantation, and Erna was very much expected to play the woman’s role of being a Cake-and-Coffee hostess. When four Jews were caught in the estate while trying to escape from a transport to a death camp, Horst told Erna and her female
I wrote a note on Kolkata, the city I come from and would always belong to, in July 2010. Since then, the post attracted many visitors and comments, mostly critical, as most people, including those from Kolkata, couldn't see any future for the city. My current effort, some 18 months down the line, is also prompted by a recent article in The Economist, The City That Got Left Behind , which echo the pessimism somewhat. I, at least emotionally, disagree to all the pessimism: After all Kolkata is home and I live in the hope of an eventual return. Indeed, some change has happened since I wrote my earlier post: The geriatric Leftist government that ruled the state for more than 30 years was summarily dispatched, and was replaced by a lumpen-capitalist populist government. Kolkata looked without a future with the clueless leftists at the helm; it now looks without hope. However, apart from bad governance, there is no reason why Kolkata had to be poor and hopeless. It sits right
The ‘Why’ Question? Adolf Hitler was appointed the German Chancellor by President Von Hindenburg on 30th January 1933. This was an extraordinary turn of events. Previously, President Von Hindenburg consistently refused to appoint Hitler the Chancellor, despite the impressive electoral performance of NSDAP in July 1932, Hitler’s uncompromising demand of the Chancellor’s post and a repeat election in November 1932 which failed to break the deadlock. Explaining his refusal, Hindenburg wrote in a letter on 24th November, “a presidential cabinet led by you would develop necessarily into a party dictatorship with all its consequences for an extraordinary accentuation of the conflicts in the German people.” The question ‘why’ Hitler was appointed Chancellor, despite the President being acutely aware of what might follow, is therefore a significant one. The NSDAP had election successes throughout 1932, and was already the biggest single party in the Reichstag and various Landtags acros
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.