getting a degree in entrepreneur
I’ve been out of school now for almost ten years, having graduated a few years before the economy dipped. Knowing how competitive the job market was, “serious experience” always seemed to trump my “makin the bacon”. I told myself that I’d never settle for a crappy job just because I could make a little money. If I landed a job where I knew I’d be learning something, the money didn’t matter.
It wasn’t easy. I kicked around the idea of going back to school for a masters in something numerous times, especially after being laid off right before Thanksgiving 2008. But a mentor of mine talked me out of it, saying unless I KNEW I wanted to be a doctor, lawyer, teacher or some other profession that required a second (or third) degree, why waste the money. Instead, I took his advice and created my own masters in business...more like a masters in Entrepreneurship. (And in no way am I saying traditional graduate degrees are a waste of time, it just wasn’t the best path for me at that time in my life).
There has been a lot of discussion around whether an entrepreneur is “born into this world with a drive and need to succeed that most of humanity lacks, or can they be created through education, experience and mentorship” (Entrepreneur.com article, Are Entrepreneurs Born or Made). Like being a doctor, or lawyer, or teacher, entrepreneurs seem to have their own set of defining characteristics. Numerous articles online point to attributes such as being passionate inside and outside of work, having an innate ability to bear risk, generating idea after idea after idea, or working to make something happen, even if it means not getting paid at first. Most entrepreneurs are a force to be reckoned with, starting businesses long before even learning to drive, (I’ll save my story about rabbit poop and cleaning trashcans for another blog), and continuing to generate new companies into their twilight years.
While being an entrepreneur sounds great to a lot of people - no boss, no cubicle, no 9-5 - it’s not for everyone. Personality traits such as those mentioned can really influence one’s outcome. However, just as being born tall doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be a great basketball player, being ok with taking risks and working for free doesn’t mean you’ll be a successful entrepreneur. An article by Entrepreneur.com interviewed two prominent researchers on this subject. Professor James Koch of Old Dominican University said that “60% of critical personality characteristics are heritable...” while Julian Lange of Babson College said, “People have different skill sets and natural talents...[it’s not that] people can’t have characteristics that make entrepreneurship easier, but there is a combo there, and learning skills is an extremely important part of the process.”
Let’s face it, some people never find their hustle and flow as entrepreneurs. Is it a career one is destined to do or can you put yourself in situations and learn how to be the best entrepreneur you can. I believe the latter. And I’m definitely still learning. But I think that learning is another one of those intrinsic aspects to being an entrepreneur - I will always be learning, always be gaining experience, and like other professions, always improving my craft. Once you’re comfortable being uncomfortable as an entrepreneur, the next hurdle to overcome is learning how to spell the damn word...EN-TRE-PRE-N-EU-RRRRRRRRR.