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Entrepreneurship as a Way of Thinking

Over the past few decades, evidence has grown that one engine of innovation in a society is the business start-up, the proverbial garage-based company. Few days go by without a media celebration of some new, disruptive, entrepreneurial initiative that blossomed into a major enterprise.

Following this trend, many business schools developed co-curricular activities that provide support for students to engage in the creation of new businesses. Some schools even have venture-capital funds supporting those activities.

At Georgetown, the McDonough School of Business has benefited from the success of StartupHoyas, with courses, off-campus activities, and other ways of connecting entrepreneurial alumni with students who aspire to follow in their footsteps.

Entrepreneurship is a way of thinking. Its motivation is solutions, with a premium placed on new approaches. Often these solutions are novel combinations of existing knowledge, previously unthought-of uses of existing technologies, and information-intensive practices

Entrepreneurship is a way of life. A common theme of biographies of entrepreneurs is that they are motivated by building not by money. They are resilient to failure. Indeed, they seek the greater success in bouncing back, in learning from failures of one idea, in order to succeed at an even bolder moves.

Entrepreneurship is an approach to solving problems. It focuses on identifying gaps and unmet needs; it intensely studies human behaviors tied up with the needs; it is devoted to improvement through trial and error, sometimes even randomized controlled trials; it’s conscious of what solutions can scale to larger application.

Indeed, this way of thinking, this way of life, this way of approaching problems is not inherently limited to the business world. We at Georgetown have many examples of students and faculty entrepreneurs in diverse settings. The entrepreneurial spirit is thriving in research centers in which new solutions are being evaluated every day. Each research breakthrough is a bold act of creation, requiring much entrepreneurship. Georgetown is alive with diverse social entrepreneurial thrusts: At the Center for Social Justice, the clinical law activities at the Law Center, the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation, maker spaces at the university, and scores of other units.

In short, entrepreneurial approaches can exist in every human endeavor.

An open question as we think of the future of Georgetown is how can we expose every student to entrepreneurship so that they will be armed with those skills in whatever career they pursue.

Could we enlarge our concept of entrepreneurial activity across the wide spectrum of the university? What learning spaces might be opened to allow students to learn the skills they need? Is learning entrepreneurial thinking compatible with experiential learning initiatives? What can be learned about entrepreneurship in traditional pedagogy? How much of the practice of entrepreneurship in business can translate easily to other fields? How do we construct realistic experiences of failure to help students learn the resilience so powerful among entrepreneurs?

4 thoughts on “Entrepreneurship as a Way of Thinking

  1. Very nice blog. Good topic. Good forward thinking to try to design the future by melding the practical with the academic. I will be interested in what other thoughts are out there.

  2. Dear Provost Groves,

    Truer words were never spoken.

    In keeping with both the entrepreneurial spirit you eloquently describe and the university’s focus on interdisciplinary studies, the Security Studies Program at the School of Foreign Service is bringing, “Hacking for Defense” to campus for the Spring 2017 semester.

    This new course sees the Department of Defense and Intelligence Community sponsoring real-world national security challenges for teams of made up of 3-5 graduate students from every school and program at Georgetown; Foreign Service, Law, Medical, Business, Public Policy, Computer Science, Systems Engineering, all other engineering, Biomedical, and everything between. These wicked problems demand that sort of diversity of perspective.

    The course is replete with amazing students, magnificent mentors, corporate sponsors, investors, and, of course, the problem sponsors themselves.

    Our first information session is October 19th at 4:15pm in White-Gravenor Hall, Room 311. It’s open to all faculty, staff, and every graduate student on campus.

    We hope to see everyone there because this course lives up to the spirit and intent of your words, as well as providing a unique educational experience for all involved.

    My very best,

    Chris Taylor
    Adjunct Professor, Security Studies Program

  3. I describe in brief to Entrepreneur: Start, run and grow your business.
    But, it is not an easy journey, there are many ups and dow in entrepreneurship journey. No one cares about the dark side of an entrepreneur.

  4. Great read here, came across this in my search for entrepreneur articles. As a recent start-up company myself I can say my undergrad and graduate experience inspired me and gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams. If my company can do the same one day for another student, it was worth my time.

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