When people ask me about being an adjunct professor at Florida Gulf Coast University, the first question, which comes up, is “What do you teach?”
Entrepreneur, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risk of a business or enterprise. My response that I teach Entrepreneurship and Creativity usually fuels a natural inquisition of the mind.
“What topics do you teach for that?”
“Do you do business plans?”
“How do you make someone an entrepreneur?”
The answers aren’t as simple as a few bullet points. Not so far removed from the student’s seat myself, I understand that a class needs to be interesting for the next generation of thinkers. The paradigm shift between traditional learning and interactive learning, be it technology or delivery, has completely reshaped the way that our brain adapts to cognitive development.
So to answer the question, how do you teach entrepreneurship? I don’t. I open up minds to thinking in a different way. No more talk about becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk. We discuss persistence and a laser focus on goals. I ask what the students are passionate about and tell stories about falling in love with what you do for a living; never settling with a job or career that you don’t find joy.
We have guest speakers come in and talk about how they struggled, what they overcame and how enjoyable the process of becoming an entrepreneur can be. No one wakes up one day and says that they want to be an entrepreneur. They see missing pieces in society. They diagnose the amount of risk and reward, put processes into place, and make it happen. This is the beauty of entrepreneurship. The business part comes into play, but it’s more about the mindset.
It’s the recent high school graduate who decides to forego college to start an air conditioning business. Becoming the largest AC company in Southwest Florida. Now he is creating jobs, providing services, and making a family. Not bad for a 25-year-old.
It’s the eighteen-year-old who has to take over a struggling roofing business because of ailments within the family. He has to prove to people that he can provide better service than any other roofing company. He tells his clientele that he is just there to do their estimate and that the professional staff will handle the job. The truth is that he is going home and getting two hours of sleep every night between estimates, paperwork, the jobs, and customer service.
It’s the recent Ivy League graduate who left his corporate job, took out all of his parent’s savings, and put everything on the line to start an educational tech startup. He heard denial from everywhere he had hoped to hear affirmation. Time and time again, he worked to perfect his model. Then he found his niche and sold his business to one of the largest educational providers for $89 million.
The mindset is giving it everything you have, leaving it all on the table, and sometimes failing.
“If you could hear about all of the times that I failed, you wouldn’t be so impressed with what I’ve accomplished.” That is entrepreneurship defined.