Gain skills to follow your passion with Jackson College’s entrepreneurship program

Entrepreneurship

Does the thought of becoming your own boss sound like a dream come true? Perhaps becoming an entrepreneur is right for you!

A successful entrepreneur is someone who identifies specific needs in the world around them and then creatively implements strategies for meeting those needs. Entrepreneurs can be found in many places. Not only do they start and operate successful for-profit and not-for-profit ventures, but they also work as change agents in organizations that were started by others (these entrepreneurs are sometimes known as “intrapreneurs”).

“You have to have a passion for something to become a successful entrepreneur,” said Ron Betzig, director of JC’s entrepreneurship program. “Whatever your passion, it will take time and commitment.”

Those interested in entrepreneurship should start with some self-directed questions. Are they comfortable taking risks? Any new venture is a risk in itself. Those who choose to start for-profit companies must be willing to put in long hours of hard work and go for possibly two or three years with little income while the business gets off the ground and builds a name for itself. They will also need to have money to sustain themselves through those lean years, through either savings, supportive friends and family or professional financing organizations. Passion is the most important.

About the Program

Jackson College offers an associate degree or certificate in entrepreneurship. The program will guide students into identifying their own driving passion, their distinctive talents, and to help them put together a thorough plan for transforming their ideas into reality. Students will draw from a broad range of disciplines and courses, providing them with the analytical tools and diversity of knowledge conducive to thinking like an entrepreneur. This breadth of knowledge will be coupled with specific knowledge and expertise in business and entrepreneurial ventures.

In addition to passion, entrepreneurs need competence and skill in their chosen ventures. To be successful, they will need to develop an economic model, understand the needs of a customer base, and engage in the iterative business planning process. Entrepreneurship classes will help focus on how to “create your own job” (whether that is an independent venture or within an existing organization), entrepreneurial marketing, brand identity design, and developing an adaptive business model. Also, core courses in leadership, accounting, and business law will help equip students to overcome many of the obstacles associated with managing an enterprise.

A strong liberal arts background can benefit entrepreneurs in several ways. One of the keys to success for any entrepreneur is the ability to innovate, including taking concepts and methods from one discipline and applying them in a new area. Without a broad and diverse knowledge of many areas, this type of innovation is difficult, Betzig said. Networking is vital for entrepreneurs, both in making themselves known and in continuously improving their business. New ideas, new contacts and developments may all be found through networking with others. One of the best places in the world to build a strong network is an academic institution like JC, where creative thinking and collaboration across many disciplines is highly valued.

With entrepreneurship, it is difficult to define job demand or salaries; much will depend on one’s idea, drive and demand.