Entrepreneurship training consists of many different kinds of elements. In this blog entry I will pinpoint some elements of good entrepreneurship training, and also some things that are important for the participants to understand to be able to fully benefit from the training.
A new business should be built on the strengths of the entrepreneur, and entrepreneurship training should be competence based. It should start with recognising what kind of skills and strengths the individual wanting to start the business has.
It is important to notice the difference between objective skills (i.e. what kind of professional skills people have) and subjective skills (i.e. what people think about themselves). People who want to start a new business need both objective and subjective skills, and they should be in balance with each other. A person might have great objective skills in his or her profession but lack self-confidence or other subjective skills – in this case a good entrepreneurship training helps people to build a more positive image of themselves.
People should also be encouraged to be realistic about their objective skills. The closer people are to expert level in the line of business they are about to start, the better their chances of succeeding are. There is always a big risk involved if you enter an area of business where you lack objective skills.
As I mention in the book What Do You Have In Your Hand, one of the success factors for a new entrepreneur is the ability to evaluate yourself. Entrepreneurship training helps the participants to gain a better understanding of their objective and subjective skills. The training should also offer realistic encouragement to help the participants make the right decisions. Sometimes this means helping some people to see that entrepreneurship might not be the best choice for them at this point of life.
The right questions
The goal of entrepreneurship training is to give a proper answer to these three questions: Am I ready to be an entrepreneur, with this business idea, and in this situation? The trainer is there to help the participants to find the right answers to these core questions.
A good teacher knows that posing a good question is better than offering a good answer. During the training often the most important things happen when people process the tasks and questions posed to them. A business plan is an important part of starting a business, but often the thought process leading to the business plan is a more valuable asset for the entrepreneur in the long run.
During entrepreneurship training the participants are making big decisions about their future. They have to deal with many kinds of personal questions about their skills, strengths and weaknesses. An informal setting helps the participants feel safe and free to ask all kinds of questions. Creating a relaxed and creative atmosphere is one of main tasks for the coach.
The ability to create something new is in the core of entrepreneurship. In entrepreneurial training the participants should of course be informed about things like the risks and regulations involved in starting a business, but the focus of the course should be on the positive aspects of becoming an entrepreneur, and the atmosphere needs to be entrepreneurial. In this respect it often helps if the trainer has personal experience in entrepreneurship.
In the end, I would like to add one more thing. Entrepreneurial training differs from traditional education in one important respect. Traditionally teachers do not encourage people to have a look at what their fellow student are writing, at least not during the exams. An entrepreneur should always be looking at what is going on around him or her – what fellow entrepreneurs are doing, what the competitors are doing, etc. Learning from others is an important part of entrepreneurship, and this fact should be taken into account when designing entrepreneurial training.
Mr. Jouni Suonpää
The Founder and Chairman of NEBA (North European Business Academy)