As part of my usual routine, I was reading some answers on Quora this morning, and this question about Entrepreneurship and Startups, in particular, grabbed my attention.
The short version of the question is – Should I do an MBA / MSc in Entrepreneurship to start my Startup?
The question echoes the broad ongoing discussion on if you really need an academic qualification to become an entrepreneur or start a startup.
The broader alternative to the above question that I have seen frequently discussed around the web is “can entrepreneurship be taught?”.
Read my Quora answer along with some other general viewpoints that I think are important to help you make the decision.
My Quora Answer
My one-word answer would be NO, but I decided to add a few more lines to help with the query. Here’s the complete answer.
“I just finished my MSc in Entrepreneurship from one of the business schools here in the UK. Like you, I was probably lured by the fact that I could have a degree in Entrepreneurship. If the degree is the only thing you care about, then go for it.
But wait, you said you wanted to do it to set up your own business. Well, if entrepreneurship can be taught or not is a big issue for discussion, but the truth is that business schools are mainly designed to teach Management.
Even the top schools have yet to grasp how to teach Entrepreneurship. Most of the programs in Entrepreneurship are poorly designed, and schools do it because they are seeing a huge interest from their potential applicants.
Also, the fact is that most of these schools want to establish themselves as modern schools for several other reasons.
Having said that, as with MBA or MSc in any discipline, the most important thing you can get out of it is “networking”.
If you get the opportunity to do an MBA at one of the top schools, just go for it for all other benefits, such as networking but do not expect them to ‘teach’ you Entrepreneurship.
Long story short, if you want to build your business, get started NOW. You do not need to master the management, Startup, and entrepreneurship topics. What you need to master is your customer’s needs.
Reflecting on the positive aspects, I have written an essay on skills that you can develop from a degree in entrepreneurship.
Other View Points
Here’re some other viewpoints that I recommend reading on the central theme of “can entrepreneurship be taught?”.
Richard Branson, one of the famous entrepreneurs, suggests that entrepreneurial success depends on a combination of personality traits and instinctive skills. He further argues that academic coursework is not enough to develop such skills and that it requires actual jobs and the right mentorship.
George Deeb, the author of “101 Startup Lessons–An Entrepreneur’s Handbook”, in his Forbes article, evaluates essential skills required for entrepreneurship. He concludes that it really isn’t about taught or born skills and that you need both to maximise your skill set for being an entrepreneur.
Another Wall Street Journal article provides few comprehensive insights quoting critics from both sides of the argument. Here’s an infographic from the article presenting the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs.
Paul Graham, best known for helping startups (Ycombinator), in his lecture on How to Start a Startup, argues true entrepreneurship, not learned entrepreneurship. The entire video is worth watching.
You can also follow me on Quora or ask any questions related to the topic in the comments below.
So, what do you think of Entrepreneurship? Can it be taught, or is it something that you have to develop by doing?