Entrepreneurship Is a Craft and Here’s Why That’s Important

Origen: Entrepreneurship Is a Craft and Here’s Why That’s Important

It’s accessible. Entrepreneurs come from all different walks of life, often by necessity. In certa


in parts of the world — Vietnam, for example — entrepreneurship is a way of life. As with pottery, there is no special blessing a person must have to start a new venture except the desire and a minimal amount of potential that’s inherent in almost everyone. The historical perception has been that entrepreneurs were endowed with something special and were unique in some way, and this is a problem. Thinking of entrepreneurship as a craft helps to deal with this issue.

It’s learnable: Data from numerous studies shows that the more times you start a company, the higher your odds of success in future ventures. Serial entrepreneurs are able to learn how to be better entrepreneurs. I see this every day in my classroom and our entrepreneurship center, as well as in the marketplace.

It values unique produc

ts. This is the core challenge for entrepreneurs: creating something new to introduce to the world where before there was nothing like it, or adding a unique twist to an existing thing that’s valuable enough to supplant a similar option. This quest for a unique selling point is what makes entrepreneurship especially difficult. It’s also what makes entrepreneurship most like what a good craftsperson can achieve — the creative use of learned skills where the end result is something of value.

It’s built on fundamental concepts. There are many basic concepts that can be learned about how to build a business. My own experience is illustrative: My first stab at launching a company, Cambridge Decision Dynamics, was an abject failure. I didn’t know anything about

starting and running a business. I thought that human resources didn’t matter. I didn’t understand product-market fit, I had no idea how to really raise money, and I didn’t understand that cash flow was different from profitability — and much more important, too. Understanding these things dramatically improves your chances of success, even if it does not assure it.

It’s best learned through apprenticeship. While basic business knowledge is important, real-world skills are essential to the craft of entrepreneurship, just as they are to the potter. The essence of entrepreneurship is putting fundamental concepts into practice. Many entrepreneurs first work in an industry, learn the nuances of that particular type of business, and then start something similar. For those who get their launch through an entrepreneurship education program, they benefit from access to hands-on action learning and mentorship. Educators need to offer opportunities that go beyond the classroom and theoretical understanding and that dive deeply into application and practice. Having these features in the curriculum of an entrepreneurship program is essential.