Ten top colleges for entrepreneurs – March 1, 2006

FORTUNE Small Business: Ten top colleges for entrepreneurs – March 1, 2006

I heard recently that in the 70s there were something like 10 universities that offered entrepreneurship courses. But currently it’s over 1,700. So entrepreneurship education is booming.

But what is interesting to me is that the most successful business people of all time come to lecture at business schools, and the people in the audience are the students, some of whom actually run a business, but most do not.

That seems like a major waste to me, a disconnect, because the people who need to hear the keys to success aren’t even listening.

Meanwhile, the millions of entrepreneurs trying to run successful businesses don’t go to the business school lectures, where they could learn so much. One lecture could change their future. Like the branding talk I heard in Philadelphia in 1996 that led us to spin Ancestry.com out from under the Infobases umbrella and try to turn it into the world’s leading genealogy brand. That was all inspired by a lecture I heard on branding. I don’t even remember who the speaker was!

I don’t know why the real business world and academia can’t somehow get mixed in with each other in very significant ways.

Business schools should/could reach out to the local business community and invite scores of entrepreneurs to learn from the great guest lecturers that come regularly.

I personally like to maximize the results from the time I spend doing anything.

I have found the greatest satisfaction in teaching entrepreneurship when they are actual business owners in the group I’m teaching.

I probably won’t do many lectures to high school students, for example, or get involved with young kids who may be in business someday, because by the time they are in business they probably won’t remember a single thing that I taught.

I get much more satisfaction from teaching people that are running a business, can run right home and try something new and immediate that I’ve taught them like search engine marketing for example, or using Google Alerts to monitor their competitors, or how to increase their web site conversion rate.

On the other hand, I don’t like seeing or hearing myself talk, so I find myself saying no when people want to video tape or do podcasts of my lectures. In reality, if I were willing to be recorded when I’m teaching and allow that content to be freely distributed online, I could really maximize my impact and better use my time.

I need to get over that hangup and be willing to be video and audio-taped more often, so that I can help more people.

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5 Comments

  1. Eran

    It seems to me that the people I want to see speak usually aren’t available to the non-student, non-alumni entrepreneur.

  2. Utah is generally advanced in the arena of true entrepreneurship education.

    I recently wrote an article for Wasatch Digital iQ on this very topic and found our little state doing more than its fair share of innovation, particularly BUY’s Interdisciplinary Product Development program. (You can read it here, if you’re having trouble sleeping:
    http://digitaliq.com/parser.php?nav=article&article_id=833&PHPSESSID=d2b53c4531d220829e3b89d0256c5bd4 ).

    A Utahn has even found a way to “privatize” entrepreneurship education. Greg Warock’s Junto Partners program ( http://www.juntopartners.com )is inspired in ways I’m still learning to appreciate. Every participant in that program I’ve met (probably 10 in all) has been among the sharpest people I’ve encountered.

    We’re beyond fortunate to live in a state so conducive to entrepreneurism, because few activities will teach one more about themselves and the world they live in than taking strategic economic risk.

  3. Oooops. In my comment above I meant to type “BYU’s” instead of “BUY’s”.

    Is it obvious I’m already plotting how to finance my three daughters’ educations there, starting just 10 years from now?

  4. The idea of getting the experienced people from industry to mix it up with the knowledgably people from academia is great. A book remains static and a theory can only say so much in a fabricated universe with guns and butter, getting someone that has applied business theories in a dynamic universe is priceless. Now what to do about this?

  5. Dave Bascom

    I think you’re right that universities could do a better job of reaching out to local business people for guest speakers and things like that. These schools get some pretty amazing speakers to come and speak, yet they either don’t allow outside guests to come, or more often, probably haven’t even considered the idea. My all-time favorite class at BYU was the entrepreneur lecture series where they had successful entrepreneurs come and share the secrets of their success. One of the speakers I remember was your bother Curt. I wasn’t a business owner at the time, but the entrepreneurial seeds were planted and I still remember a lot of what I learned in those lectures, 7 or 8 years later.

    Speaking of video, BYU does a great job of making many of these speeches available online at http://ebusiness.byu.edu/search_lectures.php?method=course — Anyone can access that site often to watch a few videos from successful entrepreneurs. And even though you don’t like being videotaped, there’s even one of your lectures on there, Paul!

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