Lebo Poonyane and Nick Binnedel

Lebo Poonyane and Nick Binnedel
GIBS Full Time Entrepreneurship challenge winner
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Monday, September 21, 2009

What role does education play for successful Entrepreneurs?

This question has been bugging me for a while...i consider myself a serial entrepreneur (or rather an individual with way too many ideas, some of which people think are crazy), but looking at my history and the number of "successful" ventures" that have launched from inside my head to actual consumer value i tend to doubt myself. But. I have come to the conclusion that want to become a huge entrepreneur - meaning that i want to build a business/es that are extremely profitable and make a "real" quantifiable difference in my society. So, i dont want to waste my time working on businesses that wont scale up. 

This is where the question of "education" comes into play for me - do i need to educate myself to certain point in order to be able to deal with the intricacies of building big business (whatever that business might be) or can i depend only on hands-on experience and other peoples skills?  

Which then brings another question to mind - Are entrepreneurs born or can entrepreneurs be trained? What type of entrepreneurs are the most successful?  
There`s a vast library of material focused on the "drop out" entrepreneurs that have revolutionised industries ( ala Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, etc.)...but i`ve found that these are a handful only. The majority of so called "drop-out" entrepreneurs either supplement their entrepreneurial experience with self-study (mainly because the traditional school system is too lethargic and slow for them) and succeed this way. Those that do not supplement their education, on average, become business failures or have difficulties scaling up their businesses substantially.  

Thus, i personally decided to follow the "educated" -street and formal - entrepreneur route because i believe that theres wisdom captured in history. Thats why i am currently doing an MBA (Entrepreneurship) at a reputable business School, The Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS).  Traditionally, business schools are not structured to cater for Entrepreneurs (but for middle managers trying to climb the "man's" ladder), but this is not the case with GIBS (atleast thats what i think). In a nustshell, the school was built by an entrepreneur and thus has strong entrepreneurial foundations.  

Thus, my conclusion  - if you want to build it large and successful, invest time in your education - but make sure its relevant to your business. Learn about what other successful (and some not so successful) entrepreneurs have done to propel their businesses - the business models, the industries, the individuals mind set, etc.  

But most importantly, do the business!!! Learning should facilitate the business growth, not stop you from doing the business. 

Much success. 
LP