Executive Courses in Entrepreneurship: Increasing Odds of Startup Success

Executive Courses in Entrepreneurship: Increasing Odds of Startup Success

High rates of new business creation have increased demand for training programs that can help company founders succeed as entrepreneurs

The coronavirus pandemic ignited a startup boom, and the rate of new business creation has remained resilient -- perhaps surprisingly so -- even in the face of economic pressures such as racing inflation and soaring interest rates. That has increased demand for training programs that can help company founders succeed as entrepreneurs, with executive education courses being one avenue.

The higher rates of start-up creation have positively impacted demand for executive programs in entrepreneurship.

“We have seen a tremendous increase in demand. The pandemic made people question their current careers and increased their willingness to explore entrepreneurship. I offered a webinar on the financing of startups which has been taken so far by 25.000 people. Also, the demand for on-campus entrepreneurship programs has increased by 30 percent,” says Henning Piezunka, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship and Family Enterprise at INSEAD, and Programme Director of the Entrepreneurship: New Business Ventures course.

What can executive education do for entrepreneurs?

Becoming an entrepreneur is a tough gig: 90 percent of start-ups fail, and business deaths have picked up recently because of the economic slowdown. So, what are the main challenges that entrepreneurs face, and how can executive education help them surmount the obstacles?

“A key part of the entrepreneurial process is to test an idea before one fully commits to it. Testing the idea upfront reduces the failure rate dramatically,” says Piezunka.   

On the five-day INSEAD program in Fontainebleau, near Paris, participants will learn where the best ideas come from, as well as the ways to navigate the processes needed to manage frequent entrepreneurial tasks such as leading board meetings and raising venture capital.

“At the core is the question of how to turn an idea into a business,” adds Piezunka. “To answer this question, we address the various parts of the entrepreneurial journey -- from the identification of an idea to the underlying business, to the formation of a team, and the scaling of the business.”

INSEAD’s Entrepreneurship: New Business Ventures program is just one of a wide menu of options for entrepreneurs. Another course is called The Entrepreneurial Edge, a program from London Business School in the UK, which helps participants prepare and launch a venture and secure funding from potential investors.

“The Entrepreneurial Edge provides all the frameworks and tools for someone trying to create a new business from scratch – culminating in a pitch to a panel of would-be investors,” says Julian Birkinshaw, Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at London Business School.

The demand for new programs in entrepreneurship at LBS remains strong, despite the financial pressures facing business founders. “Of course, the economic climate for funding has become much tougher – the era of almost-free money is over – but the opportunities, especially in the digital sector, remain as exciting as ever,” Birkinshaw insists.

He adds that entrepreneurs face two main challenges: the first is tapping into a genuine market opportunity; the second is building a viable business (with the necessary funding to grow) around that opportunity. “The main reason there are so many failures is that most new business ideas are bad ideas. Our courses are designed to help would-be entrepreneurs filter out the bad ideas so they can focus their energy on the ones with the highest potential,” he says.

A systematic approach to new venture creation

Paul Cheek, Executive Director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship and a Senior Lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management, argues that company founders need a systematic approach to new venture creation and a community of entrepreneurs to lean on to increase their odds of success.

“Executive education can help entrepreneurs gain the knowledge and lifelong connections needed to reduce the risk involved in the development of a new venture,” he says. “The shared lived experience among participants in entrepreneurship courses enables participants to develop a deeper understanding of the importance of a strong team, and the customer-first approach to venture development.”

MIT Sloan in Cambridge, Massachusetts, offers the Entrepreneurship Development Program. It covers the entire venture creation process, from generating ideas to building viable global businesses, with a special emphasis on the nurturing roles of corporations, universities, governments, and foundations.

“Our entrepreneurship programs provide participants with the ability to create, identify, and evaluate new venture opportunities, interpret customer needs, quantify the value proposition, and navigate the venture capital investment process,” says Cheek. “These learning outcomes enable them to start and build new technology-based companies that have an impact on the world at global scale.”

Start-up activity is a powerful force for innovation, new jobs and productivity, so it’s an area that business schools are keen to develop more executive courses in. “The entrepreneurship activity that business schools can spark has a massive impact on the economy,” adds Cheek.

“Research into MIT’s entrepreneurship activity reveals that alumni have launched 30,200 active companies that employ roughly 4.6 million people and generate about $1.9 trillion in annual revenues -- equivalent to the tenth largest economy in the world by GDP.” 


Related Business Schools


London Business School

MIT - Sloan

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