A Diploma in Entrepreneurship?

Photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash

As the number of students attending post-secondary institutions continues to rise, it is inevitable that universities and colleges would begin offering diplomas and certifications in dubious fields.

Take, for example, the numerous programs available that purport to impart to students, the skills and business acumen necessary to start and run a successful enterprise.

Many of these programs are known as diplomas in Entrepreneurship. You can conduct a simple search online and instantly find examples of these diplomas or certificates.

What is perplexing is how these programs, and the people that run them, are able to justify their existence. What possible value can they provide to an individual wanting to start a profitable business?

The answer is none.

The purpose of these programs is to siphon money from gullible peoples’ pockets and provide nothing of value in return. This is very similar to the “financial gurus” that sell you their “Get rich quick” schemes.

Entertaining the idea that one can learn the tools and techniques needed to become a successful entrepreneur from textbooks and insipid instructors (many of who probably have never run a business in their lives) is beyond absurd. Every successful entrepreneur will tell you that you can’t teach an individual to become an entrepreneur – they have to venture out into the world and do instead of read. This is where the grueling struggles are experienced and the mental fortitude that is shaped – not the classroom.

A diploma is entrepreneurship is as ridiculous as a diploma is swimming. You can digest everything there is to know about swimming from textbooks, but if you never go out into the water, can you, in all honesty, assert that you can swim?

Would you explain to prospective employers that you can perform the duties of a lifeguard because you have a diploma in swimming, even though you’ve only ever been in knee-deep water? Of course not. You’d be scorned and berated for insulting their intelligence.

Such is the case with entrepreneurship; you must take the risk and learn on your own, with trial and error being your guide. No one is going to take you seriously as an entrepreneur simply because you read a few textbooks and passed some exams.

In addition to diplomas and certificates, actual undergraduate business degrees and MBAs will also not provide much value if your professional career is to be an entrepreneur. If you wish to go into business for yourself, avoid the cost and hassle of attending business school. As someone who has gone to business school, I can assure you that it’s possible to teach yourself everything there is to know about business (accounting, finance, marketing, operations management, business law, etc) by immersing yourself in textbooks, consulting with people in the industry you wish to enter, and learning from your mistakes as you go along. Starting small, being patient, and working your way up incrementally is also key.

Business schools are designed to prepare individuals to work for businesses, not start their own. Business schools teach people to administer the businesses for which they will work for, which is why such degrees are sometimes aptly titled Bachelor of Business Administration.

Can business schools add something more to their curriculum that will help separate the real entrepreneurs from the “test takers”?

An element that can be included is the requirement that each student start and run a profitable business for the duration of the program.

In order to graduate and receive a degree, diploma, or certificate, students should have to prove that they can actually create a successful business. No business = no graduation.

It doesn’t have to be a multi-million dollar company; a small and modest business would suffice to showcase the students’ skills and knowledge. Grading should be fair and reasonable, but not charitable, as the free market does not show any mercy for poorly planned and executed business plans.

Would is be demanding? Yes. Challenging? Of course. But that’s the real world, so why no prepare for the inevitable while in school (I’m fairy certain that students would actually find the process fun and engaging, given that they are deluged with textbooks and exams throughout their studies, and very little else).

You can’t learn to swim without getting in the water. Likewise, you can’t learn to be an entrepreneur without starting a business of your own. Skip the diplomas mills and go start a business in the real world. All the lessons you will ever need can be found there.

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