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Baking the entrepreneurship cake

Baking the Entrepreneurship Cake!

Entrepreneurs become that way, because they get things going by constantly sniffing out opportunities with an insatiable curiosity, vision and passion.

Unfortunately, entrepreneurship is regarded as a somewhat mystical attribute that only taints a lucky few. Passivity and inactivity tend to win as the learned mutter, fold their arms and declare it untrainable! But, that stale passé debate around whether entrepreneurs are born or made deserves no ink or breath.

Any country with Olympic aspirations dare not just sit back and expect those with natural athletic ability to simply rise to the top. On the contrary, nations strive to outdo each other in planning their programmes years ahead. They set up a conducive environment to seek out, nurture, coach, train and encourage the best possible outstanding performances from their athletes.

Entrepreneurship sits uncomfortably as a kind of stepchild within education. Teachers are not great role models, as they are trying to teach something that, by definition, they aren’t!

Entrepreneurship is not a magic ingredient to include into the national syllabus so that countries can sausage-factory the human capital for a growing economy.

Entrepreneurship can’t be taught, classroom style in traditional ways with a teacher up front asking “Now! How does one quantify demand?” Rather it needs to be developed in an irreverent skunk-works that is somewhat messy, encouraging learners to try, fail with aplomb, discover how to re-try and then to try again. Only in this way can a conducive environment be produced where budding entrepreneurs can be encouraged to grow to full potential. They need to be encouraged to break out and remain on the edge, daring to be different and pushing the envelope!

Attempts at entrepreneurship education need to take things far less seriously and a little more playfully. Educators and learners need to experiment together by daring to be different. The emerging entrepreneur will usually be the difficult one in the class, the one that struggles to fit in, the one who refuses to be compliant and is usually found to be testing or pushing the boundaries. Often branded the rebel or the problem child by the teacher, the entrepreneur refuses to acknowledge the rules, seeing beyond them and recognising that innovation and creativity are the only true boundaries.

The background stories of countless great entrepreneurs usually display an uncomfortable fit with traditional education … they usually found that the ability of the institution to contain or captivate them ran out long before the institution had stuffed them full of the qualifications and accolades reserved for its brightest heirs.

Can a perfect environment be produced to foster the growth and development of entrepreneurial skills? Here is where the dilemma kicks in. If you make things too perfect and produce everything on a plate, you fall into the other trap of breeding the lethargy of an entitlement culture where individuals begin to expect things to be done for them. Getting everything too easy dulls the drive!

The best entrepreneurship support will come from assisting the drive to thrive! Can educational institutions recognise the rebels and multiply the mavericks. Can nonconformity be encouraged? Plainly the answer is yes – if the will and vision is strong. The great chefs of tomorrow are the young ones freely experimenting in their mothers’ kitchens of today. They are the ones making toothpaste and coconut pie – or egg, pepper, porridge and washing-up-liquid cake. The ones who will succeed are those whose mothers will see way beyond the mess and offer, “Why don’t you try adding a little ……”