I spend a lot of time talking to (many awesome) startups in Ottawa, and occasionally commenting on programs that are offered to entrepreneurs. Some say that I’m too critical of programs that try to help startups – because every little bit helps. Right?
I don’t think so.
In fact, I think many programs distract would-be entrepreneurs on what they should be doing – following their passion and making something worthwhile. I’m not saying that entrepreneurs don’t need help. We all need help. But too many programs are using the wrong approach by trying to “teach” entrepreneurs. I (strongly) believe that entrepreneurs can’t be taught. They’re categorically ADD, they “think differently”, and they can’t stand still. They prefer action to passively absorbing. They know that life isn’t about mid-terms and finals – its a daily grind with constant tests. They’re a fire, ready, aim breed.
But everyone keeps trying to “teach them”. From government programs & college and university courses to online education, videos, and books. They don’t work.
The reason mentorship works is because its based on experience. And it only works when its based on experience, in the form of “when you did x how did it turn out and why? How would you do it if you did it again”. It follows the adage “if I knew then what I know now”. It’s borrowed experience. And that’s how entrepreneurs learn, through doing.
I put together the presentation below to try to articulate this (and show why we created StartupPlays.com). I’d be interested in your feedback: Can entrepreneurs be taught?