Is Action the Best Measurement of Learning in Entrepreneurship Education?

by Michael Simmons on Sep 19, 2010

I think the answer is yes.

What good does it do an entrepreneur to have a great idea and business plan, if he/she doesn’t know how to turn that plan into action?

The biggest hurdle I’ve seen to would-be entrepreneurs is the resistance to actively and consistently talking with customers.

Without a customer, somebody using or purchasing a product, the idea’s value is close to zero.

The ONLY way to get customers is to engage them in a conversation. At the very least, the customer gains an understanding of what your product is, how it can help them, and then decides to move forward. At the most, a conversation with a potential customer leads to deep mutual understanding and the decision to work together for mutual benefit.

The more conversations you engage in, the more customers you get and the more you learn about your customers.

What often stops people from talking to customers is not lack of knowledge. It’s because talking to potential customers is outside of one’s comfort zone.

It’s hard to realize this basic fact because people veil it in excuses.

They say they don’t have enough time, money, or knowledge to start a business.

In reality, talking to customers doesn’t cost a lot of money, require a huge amount of knowledge (you should be listening 80% of the time), and takes very little time.

Most entrepreneurship education courses and curricula don’t realize this and, in so doing, do students a disservice.

I think one of the biggest benefits an entrepreneurship course could offer is FORCING students outside of their comfort zone until they become comfortable and skilled at talking to customers. Most students would NEVER take this kind of action on their own without this sort of accountability. If a course did nothing, but give this confidence, then I think it would have to be considered a success.

Getting those first few customers provides critical inspiration to the founder(s) and also gives initial proof to would-be stakeholders (investors, employees, partners, etc.). That is massive momentum.

Many entrepreneurship courses end with the creation and presentation of a business plan. While this certainly does inspire some students to action, I would wager that the percentages are extremely small.

What do you think the best way to measure the success of an entrepreneurship course is?


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I'm the co-founder of Empact, one of the leading entrepreneurship education organizations in the world. I'm obsessed with understanding how we all can lead meaningful lives that have a positive social impact. I love probing into the truth of how we experience life. I believe that challenges are what make us grow the most, and I openly share my experiences. Continue reading…