Comment & Analysis
Sep 20, 2016

Entrepreneurship is for Everyone, not Just Business Students

President of the Trinity Entrepreneurial Society (TES), Conor Leen, outlines why studying business should not be a requirement to become involved with entrepreneurship.

Conor LeenOp-Ed Contributor
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Sinéad Baker for The University Times

Trinity is currently ranked as the number one most entrepreneurial university in Europe as measured by startups created in the last five years. As President of Trinity’s Entrepreneurial Society (TES), this makes me proud, yet cautious. Proud because we have beaten off fierce competition to achieve this accolade, but cautious of the fact that in order to maintain this status, we must continue to innovate and tap into new ideas.

Entrepreneurship is to do with the setting up of a business. Admittedly, there should be no need for me to write an article of this nature. However, recently the lines have become blurred about what entrepreneurship actually means.

A consensus has built around the idea that to start a business, you must first have studied business at university. This is untrue. For example, notable figures such as Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Michael Dell are all synonymous with the word “entrepreneurship”, yet none of them studied business at university.

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Having people without a background in studying business academically in fact greatly benefits the world of entrepreneurship

I am a final-year business and economics student, and while what I have learned thus far in college has certainly helped me in my goal of one day starting my own business, it has by no means been the vital component of my entrepreneurial education. It has certainly added to my knowledge about how the business world functions, though it is not a necessity. To think otherwise is the very trap that must be avoided.

Having people without a background in studying business academically in fact greatly benefits the world of entrepreneurship. These people bring fresh viewpoints and different ways of thinking, which are always needed. This is one of the core pillars of design thinking, a way of problem-solving that is on the rise and will no doubt be a big part of Trinity in the future.

If you put five business students in a room to reach a solution to a real-world problem, more often than not, that solution will be tied to some of the concepts they have learnt in their studies. There’s nothing wrong with this, however, having a fresh perspective from other disciplines often adds to the process and the solution. Orthodoxies and conventions are challenged, points of views are shaped and we begin to see real innovative thought occurring.

By promoting the idea that entrepreneurship is for everyone, rather than just a select few business students, we will be able to tap into the talent and ideas that exist from the Arts Block right across to the Hamilton Building

This goes back to my original point, and my goals for the year as President of TES. There are so many great ideas on campus and so much value waiting to be unlocked. Not all of these ideas lie in the Arts Block nor are they all conceived in an innovation lecture in the Edmund Burke Theatre. The most important thing to recognise is that many of these ideas belong to non-business students. The idea that to be an entrepreneur you should have studied business is a fallacy, and while saying it out loud makes this abundantly clear, this concept has been ingrained in some students.

Looking at our own TES Incubator programme, I think it is clear that we need non-business students to take action in Trinity. Some of the best ideas from the programme came from students who didn’t even take business as a Junior Certificate subject. For example, Launchbox, Trinity’s own summer accelerator programme held on campus, has teams from all disciplines in Trinity.

In 2014, the Provost indicated that he wanted to turn “every single Trinity student into an entrepreneur”. By promoting the idea that entrepreneurship is for everyone, rather than just a select few business students, we will be able to tap into the talent and ideas that exist from the Arts Block right across to the Hamilton Building. The doors of entrepreneurship are always open. Studying business is certainly helpful, though it is by no means a requirement to be an entrepreneur.

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