We are often met with skepticism, especially from entrepreneurs, when we tell people that we teach entrepreneurship in a university. Many entrepreneurs contend that “entrepreneurs are born and not made” and that entrepreneurship is not teachable. Our first response to this skepticism begins with the ideas of Peter Drucker. He was convinced that entrepreneurship is “not a personality trait,” though people who need certainty are unlikely to be good entrepreneurs. Instead, Drucker asserts that entrepreneurship is based on concept and theory and can be taught. In fact, he believes the fundamental reason entrepreneurship is so risky is that “so few of the so-called entrepreneurs know what they are doing.”1
Our second response to skeptics draws on a sports analogy. Dean Smith, the legendary basketball coach at UNC, could not instruct Michael Jordan in his dexterity or remarkable vertical leap—those are Jordan’s God-given talents. In his three years with Jordan, Coach Smith was, however, able to impart the fundamentals of the game, instilling the oft-neglected principles of defense and footwork and transforming a talented recruit into one of the greatest players in history. Coach Smith could never have worked that magic on either of us. We don’t have the basic talent to meet him halfway, but observing his work has taught us a great deal about basketball and about teaching.
We believe that a special set of attitudes, skills, and knowledge is required to think and act entrepreneurially,