There is no way to teach Entrepreneurship. It’s not even something we can touch physically, but it’s the action of building and creating things. The biggest problem regarding Entrepreneurship is that it’s something we all share, but haven’t found it yet. It’s more a feeling to do something different and try to build a community of people who believe in what you believe, rather than a textbook or a lecture. However what we can do in order to improve the presence of Entrepreneurship in Universities, especially in UK, is to let creativity flow in the minds of students and also teachers.
Universities are focused on two main things, their ranking and the number of people who got a job at the end of their degree. There is nothing more. What they teach you in the first days is a way to be more employable by joining University societies and do some other extracurricular activity; because the aim is to have a good grade and loads of extracurriculars, you need “to look smart”.
I still remember the day when we faced the career service at the University of Manchester where they held a lecture about our “future”. After one hour of talking and throwing stats at us by telling how lucky we were to study Computer Science, I was the only one who asked the question “what about self-employment?” The answer was a straight “we have 200 people every year” with a smile and no knowledge about it.
Universities don’t care and probably will never do, but we can force them to think different. We don’t need a world of entrepreneurs, we need a world where people can see both ways, a secure and stable one, and another one, full of risks and failures. It doesn’t matter if you fail, because in the end, the experience you gain will help you to start again or pivot to the first choice.
Entrepreneurship is the product of creativity and vision. If we don’t start letting creativity flow, we’ll keep having a huge mass of students who don’t even know what innovation is about. The University system needs a complete cultural change, which might happen only if they will understand the importance of creating jobs. This cultural change is not given by the coursework taught, we don’t have to change the books, but the approach used in teaching it.
Textbooks show us how the world was built by those who lived before, but they don’t teach us how to create our own world. We need to start thinking that “the past is the past”, even though it’s useful to look further, and build our own future, which is not given and that can’t be taught. The way we solve things, the way we approach problems and the way lecturers inspire us are things that need to be changed.
I don’t care attending a guest lecture from a bank that tells me how good and cool their company is. I care when I see the CEO of Skyscanner, who attended the University of Manchester, and built a million dollar company, a guest lecturer that I’ll never see. Money doesn’t even matter, what matters is the ability to find his own independence just by building something out of nothing.
The next generation of entrepreneurs will be there if we start thinking that creating jobs is more important than finding, or if we give equal balance to both. We can’t live in a world where the head of the career service stares at me like someone who doesn’t even know what the word entrepreneurship is about. We need a world where Universities can help and support those who take the second path, the more challenging and difficult one, because if these people don’t find any support, they will give up.
“I used to advise people to go work for an existing company for a few years before trying to start their own, but I now think that was bad advice. It’s true that you learn things working for a big company, but you learn more, faster, starting your own.” (Paul Graham)