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B-School vs Real Life Entrepreneurship

There are 5 main points used to compare the qualities of an entrepreneur taught in B School and those of expert entrepreneurs. First is the means vs goals debate. In B-School, we tell entrepreneurs they must write a B-plan. But expert entrepreneurs don’t. Instead they start with what is available and the people they know.

The second point is to focus on partnership instead of competition. How do you look at the industry, its competition and the condition yourself ? What expert entrepreneurs care is about their business and those who will work with them: their partners.

The third aspect is risk. How do we teach people how to manage risk at B-school ? The expected way is to make a forecast with an expected rate of return. What is fascinating is that is not how real life entrepreneurs handle risks at all.

We teach in business school to take bets, but real-life entrepreneurs actually take small affordable loss bets ! It’s upside down !

The final aspect revolves around the need vs find debate. Management, marketing and finance believe that opportunities exist and all you have to do is to find them. But the other view is that opportunities can also be created by entrepreneurs. Sometimes opportunities wouldn’t have arisen if entrepreneurs didn’t actually get up and do it.

Article by Stuart Read, Professor of Marketing, Innovation and Entrepreneurship at IMD, a global business school based in Lausanne, Switzerland.

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