Fertile Earth

Entrepreneurship Education And Foundation Groundwork

Fertile EarthWho is an entrepreneur and how does a person become one? Some readers will think big and historically: Richard Sears and Alvah Roebuck, creators of a phenomenally successful mail order business, or Madam C. J. Walker, whose hair and beauty products designed for African Americans made her a millionaire. For others, giant examples may be more contemporary: Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions and O Magazine, or Steve Jobs in his garage, teaming up with Steve Wozniak to launch Apple.

Smaller, more local businesses that crisscross our daily lives are less prominent but more prevalent: the neighborhood pie shop, our plumber or electrician, an ensemble company whose performances we never miss, the home-based child care center to which we entrust our children, our salon or barber, or the local independent bookstore.

Each month in the U.S., 3 of every 1,000 people start a new business.1 Most—nearly 85 percent—do so to seize an opportunity, rather than in response to necessity. The smallest percentage of new business owners are adults between 20 and 34 years old; by age 45, more than one and a half times as many people will open a new venture.

One way that aspiring entrepreneurs learn is via formal education. Entrepreneurship education on campus is a recent and rapidly expanding phenomenon.

  • In 1975, there were only 100 formal U.S. post-secondary programs offering majors, minors, or certificates in the subject.2 By 2000, the number of programs had multiplied ten times, to about 1,000.3 By 2014, preliminary research identified more than 1,500.4
  • About 250 entrepreneurship courses were being taught on campus in 1985.5 By 2014, this number had jumped to 5,000-plus classes, and more than 2,750 schools offered at least one course in entrepreneurship or small business management.6
  • By 2013, more than 400,000 students per year were taking courses in entrepreneurship, almost 9,000 faculty were teaching the subject, and several schools had begun to require that all students take classes introducing entrepreneurship concepts.7

The hub of entrepreneurship education on campuses is the business school and, more recently, the entrepreneurship center. Students who don’t think of themselves as business people or entrepreneurs may never set foot in either. Even those who recognize that an introduction to entrepreneurship would be valuable often find it difficult to make time for such electives without extending their studies beyond four years.

Making entrepreneurship education more widely available is important, because being an entrepreneur is becoming more common for more people, in professions well beyond the traditional careers chosen by business school graduates. In nearly 40 years of teaching entrepreneurship, Jerome (Jerry) Katz of Saint Louis University has found that 30 percent of entrepreneurship majors become self-employed,while national research shows that among people who study arts or agriculture, 50 to 80 percent become self-employed.8 This means, said Michael Sherrod of Texas Christian University, “if you don’t know entrepreneurship, you won’t make it. I think it’s incumbent on educational institutions to ensure that students are prepared to survive.”

As the Coleman Foundation saw it, the challenge (and opportunity) was to extend entrepreneurship education campus-wide, so that students who might never think to take a business class or had no time to do so were given the chance to learn about entrepreneurship as a part of their field of study.

1 All data in the paragraph are from: https://indicators.kauffman.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2019/02/2017-National-Report-on-Early-Stage-Entrepreneurship-February-20191.pdf
2 https://www.kauffman.org/-/media/kauffman_org/research-reports-and-covers/2013/08/eshipedcomesofage_report.pdf
3 Ibid.
4 Kauffman Entrepreneurship Inventory: Preliminary Analysis of the Status of Entrepreneurship in American Colleges and Universities. Provided to the author by Jerome Katz, Ph.D., Saint Louis University.
5 https://www.kauffman.org/-/media/kauffman_org/research-reports-and-covers/2013/08/eshipedcomesofage_report.pdf
6 Kauffman Entrepreneurship Inventory.
7 https://www.kauffman.org/-/media/kauffman_org/research-reports-and-covers/2013/08/eshipedcomesofage_report.pdf
8 Katz, J.A. (2018). Custom tabulation of occupation and employment status from the March 2015 Current Population Survey Employment Supplement. St. Louis MO: Saint Louis University Entrepreneurship Program.

Fertile Earth

Entrepreneurship Education And Foundation Groundwork

Fertile Earth

Who is an entrepreneur and how does a person become one? Some readers will think big and historically: Richard Sears and Alvah Roebuck, creators of a phenomenally successful mail order business, or Madam C. J. Walker, whose hair and beauty products designed for African Americans made her a millionaire. For others, giant examples may be more contemporary: Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions and O Magazine, or Steve Jobs in his garage, teaming up with Steve Wozniak to launch Apple.

Smaller, more local businesses that crisscross our daily lives are less prominent but more prevalent: the neighborhood pie shop, our plumber or electrician, an ensemble company whose performances we never miss, the home-based child care center to which we entrust our children, our salon or barber, or the local independent bookstore.

Each month in the U.S., 3 of every 1,000 people start a new business.1 Most—nearly 85 percent—do so to seize an opportunity, rather than in response to necessity. The smallest percentage of new business owners are adults between 20 and 34 years old; by age 45, more than one and a half times as many people will open a new venture.

One way that aspiring entrepreneurs learn is via formal education. Entrepreneurship education on campus is a recent and rapidly expanding phenomenon.

  • In 1975, there were only 100 formal U.S. post-secondary programs offering majors, minors, or certificates in the subject.2 By 2000, the number of programs had multiplied ten times, to about 1,000.3 By 2014, preliminary research identified more than 1,500.4
  • About 250 entrepreneurship courses were being taught on campus in 1985.5 By 2014, this number had jumped to 5,000-plus classes, and more than 2,750 schools offered at least one course in entrepreneurship or small business management.6
  • By 2013, more than 400,000 students per year were taking courses in entrepreneurship, almost 9,000 faculty were teaching the subject, and several schools had begun to require that all students take classes introducing entrepreneurship concepts.7

The hub of entrepreneurship education on campuses is the business school and, more recently, the entrepreneurship center. Students who don’t think of themselves as business people or entrepreneurs may never set foot in either. Even those who recognize that an introduction to entrepreneurship would be valuable often find it difficult to make time for such electives without extending their studies beyond four years.

Making entrepreneurship education more widely available is important, because being an entrepreneur is becoming more common for more people, in professions well beyond the traditional careers chosen by business school graduates. In nearly 40 years of teaching entrepreneurship, Jerome (Jerry) Katz of Saint Louis University has found that 30 percent of entrepreneurship majors become self-employed,while national research shows that among people who study arts or agriculture, 50 to 80 percent become self-employed.8 This means, said Michael Sherrod of Texas Christian University, “if you don’t know entrepreneurship, you won’t make it. I think it’s incumbent on educational institutions to ensure that students are prepared to survive.”

As the Coleman Foundation saw it, the challenge (and opportunity) was to extend entrepreneurship education campus-wide, so that students who might never think to take a business class or had no time to do so were given the chance to learn about entrepreneurship as a part of their field of study.

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