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Entrepreneurship Misunderstood

Jim Correll, director Fab Lab ICC at Independence Community College, Independence Kansas 

The first few paragraphs of today’s column are from 2017, but the concepts still apply today. In 2006, we rarely heard the word “entrepreneurship” used without it referencing a new business start-up. The idea of using entrepreneurial thinking (or mindset) in other kinds of organizations and situations was almost never expressed. Today the value of entrepreneurial mindset in all aspects of society, with its emphasis on problem solving, is becoming clear to many more people. Yet, it’s difficult to “teach” in a traditional education setting and it is not picked up naturally in traditional academic classes. We have a very different Entrepreneurial Mindset class for that and there’s more information about that at the end of this article. Here is what I first wrote in 2017. 

I think I've underestimated the potential of entrepreneurship (now, I call it entrepreneurial mindset) since 2006 when I learned how to spell the word after accepting the position of facilitator/business coach of the Successful Entrepreneur Program at Independence Community College. 

For many people, the term "entrepreneurship" implies business ownership or business "start-up." Certainly, that is true sometimes, but entrepreneurship can be interpreted as a way of thinking of new ways to solve problems for others, many times with limited resources. Successful entrepreneurship includes continuous innovation with successful entrepreneurs knowing they always have to be looking for the next greatest way to serve their customers or coworkers.  Innovation sometimes means new inventions and/or new technology but many times it means a new twist on an existing idea. 

Today I'm starting to realize that a goal of developing the "Mindset" among everyone in a region has a great potential—indeed, the only hope--to provide economic prosperity and overall satisfaction with life. 

The overarching objective of the Entrepreneurial Mindset class, featuring the Ice House Entrepreneurship curriculum is to learn how successful entrepreneurs recognize problems as opportunities and figure out creative ways to solve them. Pretty much, no matter what any of us do with our lives, we are involved in solving problems for others, or at least we should be. This can be as a self-employed businessperson, or as an employee in someone else's company or organization. Entrepreneurial Mindset should go far beyond that; our social, civic and government programs should seek to solve problems for others with Entrepreneurial Mindset. 

The eight life's lessons in the Ice House curriculum provide the central themes of the "Mindset." They are timeless and really have more to do with a way of looking at life and interacting with others than they do with specifically starting or running a business.   

 So, while we do talk about business start-ups in this class, what we really emphasize is how to learn to become better problem solvers. Entrepreneurs can be at work both within other companies and organizations as well as within their own businesses.  Employees that understand the "Mindset" will do a much better job at taking care of customers whether they are external to the company or internal customers within the same organization. 

As more and more companies strive to be more innovative in our current entrepreneurial economy, look for more and more employees to come to the "Entrepreneurial Mindset" class and sitting down beside those with a goal to open their own businesses. All are looking for a new mindset to better view problems as opportunities and find innovative solutions. 

The next class will run from August 12 through September 30 (eight sessions) and will occur on Thursday evenings from 6 PM to 8 PM. The cost of the class (non-credit) is $75 with after rebates and early bird discount through July 31. The class involves no heavy reading and no lecture. We view videos of successful entrepreneurs and bring local/area entrepreneurs to class to tell their stories of getting started. The class will include all ages of people, some exploring starting a new business, some wanting to grow their existing business and some wanting a new way of thinking. There will be young, middle and retirement age adults. All will be looking for inspiration and new ways to solve the problems in their business, work and personal lives. 

Registration is open at www.fablabicc.org with full details about the class. Attending class in person will provide the richest experience as the networking with other class members and the guest entrepreneurs is definitely a big benefit. For people who can’t attend in person, however, the class will be offered by “enhanced” Zoom and recordings of each class will be made available to class participants. 

Jim Correll is the director of Fab Lab ICC at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship on the campus of Independence Community College. He can be reached at (620) 252-5349 or by email at jcorrell@indycc.edu. Archive columns and podcasts at www.fablabicc.org. 


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