How business schools support young entrepreneurs

At the cutting edge of the entrepreneurial community are young entrepreneurs. Young entrepreneurs are needed to rescue and revitalize the economy and the inexperience of youth could be just the tonic the economy needs. Young entrepreneurs with their energy, drive, confidence and resilience could yet be the perfect formula for entrepreneurial success.

The skills young people have today are vital too. This generation has grown up with the Internet, smart phones and the instantaneous nature of social networking sites. They are finding ways to work smarter not harder. They are fiercely ambitious and do not want to waste time.

The benefits are considerable as young entrepreneurs are likely to create jobs that employ other young people. They are more responsive to new economic opportunities and trends and are more innovative.  Young people with entrepreneurial skills also make better employees.  An employable graduate might not be enterprising, but an enterprising graduate will be employable.

Enterprise Education is crucial and business schools must consider the range of skills to instill in the business leaders of tomorrow. Young people need to be creative, innovative, technology savvy with a social conscience and to challenge the status quo as well as embracing failure and learning and growing from it.

Business Schools are recognizing the importance of entrepreneurship as the future of management education. Most business schools offer entrepreneurship degrees and modules.  Entrepreneurship programmes enable students to simulate the behaviours of entrepreneurs through reflecting on themselves and untapping their entrepreneurial capabilities. Whether they want to start their own business, add value to a large organisation or anything else, these programmes prepare them to face these challenges.

Student‐run businesses are actively encouraged and provided with support through a wide variety of programmes, competitions and grants aimed at fostering enterprise and entrepreneurship among students. In many business schools, Centres of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship or special interest groups have been established to encourage students, faculty members and members of the local community to create new enterprises and to develop existing enterprises. Programmes related to these initiatives include coaching to would be entrepreneurs, seed funding grants, competitions, enterprise summer schools and more.

Businesss Schools are the perfect breeding ground for young entrepreneurs.  They offer a safe environment to experiment with ideas and to seek help and direction.  One example of an entrepreneur who used opportunities for entrepreneurship at Westminster Business School is Sarah Watkinson-Yull, the founder of Yull Shoes. Sarah has turned traditional education on its head.  Most graduates start studying and then decide what career they want to pursue in their final year. Sarah flipped the system by starting her business and then doing a degree to see how it would help her business. Because of this she was learning with a purpose, based on her business needs, for profit. When students are paying enormous fees for their degree, they need something to believe in and aspire to other than the burden of debt on completion.  Enterprise offers this hope.

Dr Spinder Dhaliwal is Reader and Leader of the Special Interest Group Entrepreneurship at Westminster Business School.
Read more on this topic in Dr Spinder Dhaliwal’s book (below), The Millennial Millionaire, how young entrepreneurs turn dreams into business (Palgrave).