how do we teach entrepreneurship?

Dr Marlin Hoffman, School of Business and Finance, University of the Western Cape, South Africa.

This article was first published in 2019 in the Entrepreneurial Mindset Network eZINE Volume 2 no 2

Dr Marlin Hoffman is a lecturer at the the University of the Western Cape’s School of Business and Finance. Marlin believes that “Universities can be used to inculcate an entrepreneurial culture and increase entrepreneurial intention, to provide entrepreneurial role models for students.”

His passion will always remain to influence future entrepreneurs and to make a difference.  “I would love to have my own entrepreneurship school someday, on a farm somewhere - a smallholding,” he reflects. “A place where we don’t just talk about research, and learn about business plans and market share, but also a place where we can develop the self holistically – body, mind and soul.” 

In this article he reflects on the issues surrounding how best to teach young people entrepreneurship…

Image credit: Pixabay

Imagine you want to become a pilot. To fly a commercial plane, charter plane, or even just for the fun of it, you will have to attend a training programme. The training ensures that the pilot is prepared for almost every eventuality be it weather conditions, mechanically failure, etc. Now you are ready to take to the skies. 

Why are we not putting the same foresight and effort into training our entrepreneurs? Preparing them for every eventuality. This time, in business. They take to the economic skies. Education methods have changed very little in the past few decades and the same teaching methods currently in use, we’ve experienced through our own educational journey. Something needs to change.

A plethora of research has been conducted in the field of entrepreneurship’s teaching methodology, ranging from what inspires our future entrepreneurs to what needs to be done to educate them. Yet sadly, we are still using the same teaching methodologies.

We need to ask ourselves a few question ‘What does an entrepreneur of the future actually look like? What environment will the entrepreneur be faced with? How far is that future? You might ask yourself the question right now, “Why do I feel so overwhelmed? Who do we currently have in our lectures halls and how will they fulfil this “look” of an entrepreneur in the future? Well the answers lie among those who we are currently teaching. They are known as the I-Generation or the Generation Z born between 1995 and 2012.

Now this generation loves experiential learning, finding out things based on their experiences coupled with being tech smart, action-orientated that encourages problem-solving, and being creative which are all the things they developed through gaming. Ironically this gaming from a young age is what drives us as parents insane!

How do we teach a generation this advanced, which we tend to measure on our experiences and not theirs, using the same methods we were taught with decades ago?

Let’s go back to the pilot in training and we find that technology and the I-Generation will have to find its sweet-spot. 

How do I prepare a future entrepreneur with what I currently have? ◼️