TED Conversations

Brant Scheifler

Founder & Chief Encourager, Whiteboard Entrepreneur.com

This conversation is closed.

Does formal education play a significant role in the success of entrepreneurs and the outcomes of their business activities?

The foreground of such debate is perhaps seen in this debate: Are leaders born or made? With multiple TED (and Tedx) talks discussing entrepreneurship, I was curious what the community thought about the role that education plays in the success of the entrepreneur. (*please don't just say, it depends.)

Topics: Entrepreneurs
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Closing Statement from Brant Scheifler

Thanks all for your thoughts and comments. It's clear that most commentators don't view education as being vital to the success of the entrepreneur. In fact, many feel it can be a hindrance. With that said, many pointed out that education is what you make of it and that it can be utilized as a tool, even if that tool is context/perspective. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!

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    Mar 11 2012: Yes, in my empirical understanding of this it makes a huge difference the entrepreneurs I see dropped out of college or never went.

    I think this quote from MIB covers it:

    Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training. Now please step this way, as we provide you with our final test: an eye exam...
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      Mar 11 2012: I observe the same thing. Something that seems contradictory to me is this. Why do you think there are more and more students enrolling into entrepreneurial programs at universities? E.G, Champlain College has a BYOB (Bring your own business) program and many Gen Y'ers bring a business with them to enrollment. Why are they going to college if they know how to start businesses?
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        Mar 11 2012: 80% of business is finding a niche that you can sell something to. The remainder is about organization which is quite easy when you have something that sells.

        Maybe I didn't make myself clear. You don't need an education for this you just have to find out what sells and sell it. You either find this or you don't.

        If you want to be a professional yup you have to go to school but not an entrepreneur in fact school is a liability to this obvious requirement as it hampers your ability to look.
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          Mar 11 2012: I would also suggest that when you are a young person you may have a fantastic idea but don't have the connections yet to help materialize such ideas. As an entrepreneur myself, I couldn't conceive of the personal (not fiscal) connections I have now when I was in my early 20's.

          Perhaps college is a way to facilitate these early connections? Also, many universities are holding startup competitions etc that can potentially end in a substantial amount of $VC.

          To Mr. Scheifler's question are leaders "born" or "made", they are most certainly "made". To suggest otherwise is a slippery and scary slope. How they are made is a varied path that doesn't always include college but nobody is simply born great or with an innate faculty for success. These things are cultivated.
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          Mar 12 2012: Steven: Quote:To Mr. Scheifler's question are leaders "born" or "made", they are most certainly "made". To suggest otherwise is a slippery and scary slope. How they are made is a varied path that doesn't always include college but nobody is simply born great or with an innate faculty for success. These things are cultivated.
          True that nurturing can ultimately make a difference. If you look at history's greatest inventors, whether in the arts, sciences or humanities I think you will find that some people do seem to be born leaders. People who succeed in SPITE of oppositions, who were Not nurtured.
          Einstein, Michelangelo, DaVinci, President A. Lincoln, M.L King, Newton, Galileo etc, etc. I can go on and on. The list is actually quite long. So many had to do their work in secret, keep their true opinions behind closed doors, yet their gifts were inherent in their inatures. Or simply put they were born that way!
          And yes for some it may seem like a "scary and slippery slope". Without those who persist and succeed in spite of society we would still be feeding the flames of a cooking fire. (I stole the last part from a statement made regarding autistic people of which there is a possibility that many on that long list belonged to)

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