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Entrepreneur Workforce Development Skills that can be Taught

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At UMass Boston I do a few things. I mentor start-ups in our Venture Development Center, manage a paid internship program for UMass Boston students who want to work with high tech start-ups, oversee the Entrepreneurship Center, and teach an MBA entrepreneur course. The theme of this blog is entrepreneur workforce development and the comments to date have evolved around the entry level skills and requirements for workers in a start-up. And the majority of the analysis has come from the 65 internships we’ve placed with start-ups. However, after teaching an entrepreneur course for two semesters, preparing for a third, and analyzing the results so far, the following are essential workforce development skills required for start-ups that are being developed in this course.
In order to enroll in this course, the student needs their own start-up that they are in the process of launching. And we use their live experience to teach them the evolutionary process of launching a start-up. In this course there are experienced CEO, VP Sales, VP Marketing, VP Development, CFO, and Legal Counsel entrepreneurs that guest lecture based on the class topic that evening. And class topics include business description, unique value proposition, market definition, competition, lead generation, sales process, product/service requirements, business model, funding, and legal.
Students are required to take their assumptions and solicit live customer/market feedback on all their assumptions. And begin to develop domain expertise based on customer/market feedback and further define and evolve their assumptions based on this test marketing. And the overwhelming results have been that the student’s business descriptions, unique value propositions, market definitions, product/service requirements, and business models look very different after a semester of obtaining ongoing market/customer feedback.
The main skill sets being developed in this class are the ability to network and talk with strangers and solicit feedback and advice. The ability to articulate clear concise messages that resonate with your market. The ability to take large amounts of feedback and use it to focus and become more specific and precise in the market being addressed and the product/service requirements that need to be developed. The ability to obtain customer/market feedback for everything and let the market needs steer the direction of your business.
And finally, to obtain the ultimate knowledge that the business description, unique value proposition, market definition, product/service requirements, and business model all need to be driven from constant and ongoing customer/market feedback. When one of these areas change/evolve, they all change. And the process is a constantly cyclical and evolutionary process, not a linear process. And it’s never finished.

under: education, entrepreneur, high tech, start-up, training, workforce development
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2 Comments

  1. By: jeff w on at       

    Hi Daniel,

    Thanks for sharing your experiences mentoring young entrepreneurs. I really appreciate the methodology you are using in helping these students. Namely, that they are working on their own businesses and learning in real life. That’s impressive and admirable. I also like how you talk about the cyclical nature of the process. I’m not sure if you are familiar with Eric Ries and his lean start-up concept, but the pivot from failure to success has been instrumental for my own success and seems to be a strategy that the both of you tout.
    Thanks again for this insightful share,
    JW

  2. By: Lejuanna Jackson on at       

    This blog is very informative I highly recommend this to my down line.

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