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Personal Growth

Why School Won’t Prepare You to Be an Entrepreneur

Is there tension between the conservative nature of higher education and the free-wheeling world of creating new businesses? Does success in one area come at the expense of the other?

What’s the Latest Development?

Jay Goltz is a successful owner of five Chicago businesses and when he sat down to list the attributes he has seen in similarly successful entrepreneurs, he saw tension between higher education and the skills needed to start a business. Business school may teach you the ropes but what about creativity? Goltz says businesses succeed when entrepreneurs are “coming up with innovative ideas about marketing, management or finance”. Understanding your tolerance for risk is also essential, says Goltz. Again, not a skill taught in most schools.

What’s the Big Idea?

Just as SAT scores are not great predictors of college success, college success is not a good predictor of entrepreneurial skills. “In my 30 years in business,” says Goltz, “I have never seen a relationship between being a good student and being a successful entrepreneur. If anything, there might be some correlation between people who were bored or annoyed with school and people who succeed in their own businesses.” Other important qualities he identifies are ambition, tenacity (sometimes seen as stubbornness in school) and personality.

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