One of the first questions I often ask when I begin a workshop or a class is, “Do you think entrepreneurship can be taught?” Invariably a silence comes over the group. They wiggle uncomfortably in their seats. Some politely answer in the affirmative, telling me that is why they came to class in the first place. After a polite back-and-forth someone will invariably say what is on the mind of many in the room: “No, either you are an entrepreneur or you are not.” That person, once empowered, begins to passionately argue the case.
I have to say that I tend to like this person, in large part because that person would have been me 15 years ago. But now I know that entrepreneurship can be taught. I experience it almost every week in the courses I teach at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and around the world.
When we look at Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, and all the other highly visible entrepreneurs, they seem to be different from us. They seem extraordinary. But each of their successes is a result of great products that made them successful, not some special gene.
To be a successful entrepreneur, ...