Can you study en­trepreneur­ship?

STRAIGHT UP CHAT WITH AUS­TRALIA’S LEAD­ING BUSI­NESS BRAIN.

GQ (Australia) - - INSIDE -

It may sound like sign­ing up for a course in ‘How to be a Bil­lion­aire’ – or a field of study Rod­ney Danger­field would take on yet an­other re­turn to a filmic col­lege – but de­grees in en­trepreneur­ship are now be­ing of­fered at in­sti­tu­tions such as the Univer­sity of Syd­ney, Mel­bourne’s RMIT and Perth’s Curtin Univer­sity. So, does Bouris be­lieve en­tre­pre­neur­ial skills, and drive, are things you can learn in school? Or, are they gifts only a lucky few are born with?

Peo­ple need to know that be­ing an en­tre­pre­neur is not some­thing you sim­ply walk in to. For a start, you need to have a spirit of en­trepreneur­ship – and you can’t learn that, it’s some­thing you ei­ther have or you don’t. Be­yond that, how­ever, you defnitely need cer­tain skills and this skill set can be taught. Think of it like this – the spirit will drive you, but the skill comes into play with the point of ex­e­cu­tion. I re­cently ran a pitch day for Uber and had 10,000 re­quests in a 24-hour pe­riod from peo­ple with re­ally strong ideas. But af­ter look­ing at about 60 pitches, it be­came clear that there’s a mas­sive amount of skill miss­ing in re­gards to peo­ple know­ing how to pitch cor­rectly. I ac­tu­ally think pitch­ing an idea is a skill kids should learn in their fnal years at school – it’s some­thing that has to be ex­plained and taught, be­cause the frst step in get­ting a great idea off the ground, about mak­ing a mar­ket and peo­ple aware of it, in­volves ar­tic­u­lat­ing it. To be per­fectly hon­est, I don’t like the word en­trepreneur­ship – I like to call it in­no­va­tion. See, I’m an en­tre­pre­neur but I’m al­ways in­no­vat­ing – be it in fnan­cial ser­vices, in biotech re­search, in en­ter­tain­ment. For me it’s about how I’m in­no­vat­ing and how I’m go­ing to ex­e­cute a cer­tain thing. The cen­tral rea­son for this new­found fo­cus on en­trepreneur­ship is tech­nol­ogy – it’s al­low­ing us to do things we sim­ply couldn’t do 20 years ago. Now, you can es­tab­lish an idea af­ter hours – af­ter a day of work you can be in your liv­ing room, de­vel­op­ing your own web­site from your own re­sources. And to­day, any en­tre­pre­neur­ial idea will have a facet of tech­nol­ogy at­tached to it – some­times it’s a small part, some­times it’s the whole thing, but it’s al­ways a com­po­nent. En­trepreneur­ship in Aus­tralia is go­ing to be a big deal in the fu­ture be­cause we can’t rely on re­sources and house prices – it’s go­ing to be about ideas. We have a new PM who reg­u­larly talks about in­no­va­tion be­ing key to our coun­try’s fu­ture and a $1.1bn com­mit­ment in fed­eral fund­ing to sup­port lo­cal in­no­va­tion. So, study­ing en­trepreneur­ship is a good idea, though as to who should teach it, I don’t think we want old-school risk-tak­ers like Don­ald Trump or Clive Palmer. No, the in­no­va­tor of to­day – peo­ple who should be teach­ing th­ese cour­ses – are the likes of 24-year-old Genevieve Ge­orge, who runs job site Oneshift, John Win­ning of Ap­pli­ances On­line or Rus­lan Ko­gan [CEO of ko­gan.com]. To be­come an en­tre­pre­neur in­volves learn­ing a lot. Ul­ti­mately, though, you need to make sure you have that spirit, that in­ter­nal drive, or it won’t work out. Gain more no-non­sense busi­ness and fi­nan­cial in­sights with Bouris’ weekly pod­casts at mark­bouris.com.au

“FOR A START, YOU NEED TO HAVE A SPIRIT OF EN­TREPRENEUR­SHIP– AND YOU CAN’T LEARN THAT, IT’S SOME­THING YOU EI­THER HAVE OR YOU DON’T.”

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