AGSM teaches the key to successful entrepreneurship

Monday, 15 July 2013  Features

Entrepreneurs fit no single age or personality profile. The most common age range for founding a first business may be 25 to 34, but there are many examples of people leveraging their experience and formal training to launch successful new ventures at a later stage of their careers. Examples include Jack Lau at Perception Digital, Niq Lai at Hong Kong Broadband and Catherine Martsch at LoveIt.

It is worth noting that entrepreneurs and the businesses they create are responsible for most of the growth in modern economies. Big companies have become increasingly dependent on acquisitions or small, entrepreneurial partners for new products and gaining access to new markets. Governments can inform, provide rules for competition and create opportunities through their purchasing behaviour. Typically, though, they do not have the culture or flexibility to manage successful high-growth enterprises.

"Entrepreneurship is ultimately about execution" says Pat Mooney, an angel investor and leading instructor for the AGSM MBA's entrepreneurship and strategy course taught in Hong Kong. "It is about connecting innovative ideas to the execution skills that will make them a successful reality."

The skills of an entrepreneur can be used to launch companies, revive acquired businesses, or create growth and cultural change within an organisation. They can also help to achieve significant social outcomes, perhaps taking on the additional challenges that go with growing businesses across different markets, cultures and regulatory environments.

A common question is whether entrepreneurship can really be taught, and there are several schools of thought. AGSM's focus is not on changing students' personalities, but assisting them to discover their strengths and weaknesses and build strong foundations and effective teams based on this knowledge. We help them turn ideas into viable business propositions and provide the tools and skills so they can execute successfully.

The classroom environment provides a "safe haven" for experimentation without risking your money or reputation. Students have the chance to test ideas, marshal resources, express concepts, and communicate with people who may support their projects. They learn how to pitch for capital and whatever else is needed to get a business off the ground.

Importantly, AGSM also gives students access to successful entrepreneurs and experienced investors with different stories to tell. Engaging with these individuals and hearing about their successful and not so successful initiatives is an invaluable part of the process. It accelerates learning, provides a positive environment, and illustrates the advantages and disadvantages of different kinds of support at different stages of a venture's development.