Having a “business acumen" is a phrase those in the business world often hear. Are some people simply born with an entrepreneurial instinct? Can these skills be acquired?
Entrepreneurship: increasingly present in academia
Rina Marchand, senior director of content and innovation at Réseau M., an organization that specializes in mentoring entrepreneurs, is pleased to see that academic programs devoted to entrepreneurship are increasingly offered by universities.
The Réseau M. Entrepreneurial Index for 2017 shows that the probability of a person wanting to start their own business increases by 30 per cent for those who have taken one or two courses on entrepreneurship in a university or college environment.
Entrepreneurial spirit is also much higher among those whose families are already in business, which begs the question: is there much else to learn if you come from an entrepreneurial family?
See the world differently
Having business acumen is often described as demonstrating the ability to imagine new ways of doing things or solving problems.
This is a skill that can be acquired and developed, according to Sarah Prevette, CEO and founder of Future Design School in Toronto, where she works closely with schools, teachers and students in order to help them expand their entrepreneurial qualities.
Future Design School focuses on the development of "design thinking,” an approach that emerged in the 1960s, and became widespread in various disciplines (management, engineering, psychology, etc.) in the 2000s.
Prevette defines it as the ability to develop problem-solving methods by answering three questions:
- What challenge do you want to solve or what’s the problem you want to solve?
- Who is affected by this challenge or affected by this problem?
- What needs to be answered?
“In order to develop your ability to solve such problems, you have to rely on project-based learning," says Prevette. “It’s through practice that one develops a sense of business and entrepreneurship and, more importantly, confidence in our abilities. "
Prevette adds that one of the skills of entrepreneurial or innovative people is the ability to put aside their personal biases in order to slip into the shoes of other people, be they prospective clients, business partners, employees or colleagues, to better understand them.