I like to be really creative with the courses I register for with my program. For me, every course should be strategic and lead me to a clearly defined bigger picture.
I love business. I've taken regular business courses like general management, human resources, marketing, accounting....but I've also taken courses with a twist, an additional level of creativity and risk - classes that are in the entrepreneurship category.
The thing with entrepreneurship classes is that they are not the classes where you just read a textbook and regurgitate the information at some future date. And to be honest, I think that at some point during your college or university experience, you should step right out of your comfort zone and try to challenge yourself. You know, do something that scares you.
Entrepreneurship classes encourage action. In fact, you have to keep acting and iterating in order to do well in them. Entrepreneurship classes move what was previously head-knowledge, to experience and growth. You take all the business fundamentals that you learn from regular business courses, and you put them to work in a semi-real world.
I say semi-real because although, yes, you are creating business plans and interacting with potential customers and real companies, you're still in school and it's still a controlled environment. Moreover, when the semester ends, your project ends. That's it.
But when you look back - you'll notice that you've come along way and that you can transfer the knowledge (and even connections) to something new.
I've taken a couple of entrepreneurship classes and will be taking more. Every one of these classes has contributed immensely to my growth.
The first entrepreneurship class I took was called Innovation and The Entrepreneurial Experience. What I really loved about this class is that it provided a real foundation for a future in entrepreneurship, by first teaching you principles, and then giving you a chance to practice and get feedback.
The class focused a lot of the concept of innovation. I think that's a really healthy focus for a first entrepreneurship class. Entrepreneurship is centered on making money, but to really be an excellent entrepreneur you should get a good understanding of how to add value through innovation. Before taking this class, I thought of innovation as something incredibly lofty and beyond the capabilities of most people. This class taught me that even in today's world, there is soo much room for innovation. It hasn't all been done! Why? Because you can always put your own unique spin on something and deliver a product and service in a way that no one is currently doing.
During this entrepreneurship class, we learned first about what sort of mindset and qualities an entrepreneur needs. Then we learned to follow the lean canvas model - an absolutely fantastic tool. Our main project in the course was essentially to build a business from the ground up. We used the template of the lean canvas model (you should google it!) to determine the following details for our venture: the problem, the solution, the unique value proposition, cost structure, revenue streams, customer segments, key metrics, and the channels through which we would reach our consumers.
During this whole process I learned a lot about the huge amount of work required to create and grow a business. But in a positive way! In the past, creating a business or being an entrepreneur always seemed like something extremely difficult, with so many hurdles to get through. While I still appreciate that, I now see that you don't do it all at once. You set goals and you plan and execute things sequentially. This way it's not that overwhelming, and actually rather achievable.
The second entrepreneurship class I took was called The Art of the Pitch. What an enticing name. Before going into the class, I had taken a marketing class centered on persuasion. I already had a strong appreciation for the need to develop speaking and non-verbal skills that can help get a yes from business partners and customers. I was very excited to improve my pitching skills through rigorous practice and exposure to somewhat intimidating situations.
I can confidently say that this Art of the Pitch class was one of the best classes I've enrolled in during my program. In fact, I'm quite certain that this class helped me to become a better person, through learning how to communicate with others in a way that reaches their heart. This is why I highly recommend for everyone to take an entrepreneurship class if they should ever get the chance.
If there's one thing I learned in the Art of the Pitch, it is the importance of storytelling. I will never again try to pitch something without telling a meaningful story that compels. During this entrepreneurship class, we learned the secrets to pitches that convert. We watched a number of instructional videos and learned a range of techniques, with the challenge of implementing these same techniques in our group and individual pitches.
Something I really loved about this entrepreneurship class is that we actually had a test (for marks) where we had to memorize the names of everyone in the class. By the end of the semester, everyone knew everyone else in the room, each individual had been put on the spotlight multiple times, and we had all learned from each other as well as given each other advice.
The entrepreneurship classes I mentioned above were quite different in terms of the specific skills they focused on. However they both taught me so much, on average, more than I usually learn during other classes.
As you probably guessed, you don't take an entrepreneurship class if you want the easy way out. It's not about memorization or head-knowledge. I did well on the classes I took, but it required effort and enthusiasm. But that naturally has a beautiful result - when you take an entrepreneurship class, you find yourself surrounded by others who are truly passionate about the same thing as you. In both of the entrepreneurship classes I took there were also individuals who already had a business but were eager to learn more and improve their skills.
The entrepreurship classes you choose to take as electives are what will brightly stand out in your educational experience. They are a lot of fun, and you learn quickly. You develop a range of transferable skills that will serve you well in the future. If you're in college or university I would absolutely recommend that you sign up for an entrepreneurship class. Even if you're not, I think there's a lot to benefit from immersing yourself in the entrepreneurship world. Read books, go to seminars, teach yourself online.
Be motivated by the inspirational experiences that others have to share with you, and learn how to set yourself apart.
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