Earlier today I was talking to a second-year MBA student at a top 10 business school. As graduation looms on the horizon, he’s looking to network with startups and find a full-time gig in the summer. After the usual discussion about the desired type of gig (building or selling) as well as appetite for risk (seed stage, early stage, growth stage, etc) he posed a question on behalf of his professor: what should colleges be doing to prepare students to be entrepreneurs?
I thought for a second and offered up that colleges should offer two courses not commonly found:
- Professional Selling – Nothing gets done until something gets sold. Sales skills are important for entrepreneurs, not just sales people. Beyond the sales challenge of signing the first 10 customers, most entrepreneurs have to sell investors on why they should invest in their idea. Professional selling is an ideal course for entrepreneurs.
- Lean Startups / Customer Discovery – Business plans are dead. Validating ideas with prospects prior to building a product is alive and well. Dynamic business model canvases are in vogue. Entrepreneurs would do well creating and testing hypothesis, using the scientific method, rather than writing plans based on third-party information found in a vacuum. Doing is better than theorizing.
Of course, colleges are good for teaching subjects, but they are no substitute for getting out there and starting a real business, even if it’s a simple concept anyone can do. Colleges would do well to offer courses on professional selling and lean startups / customer discovery.
What else? What are your thoughts on these two course ideas as well as other courses colleges should offer for entrepreneurial students?