How Education Empowers Entrepreneurs

12 Oct 2017
How Education Empowers Entrepreneurs

Generally seen as a stepping stone towards a promotion in a major corporation, post-graduate studies aren’t exactly a priority for most entrepreneurs. With no corporate ladder to climb and the high costs involved, it’s quite natural for a business owner to think twice before considering enrolment.


His train of thought might include musings on the returns he can get for the sizeable investment he would have to make for such studies. Many likewise regard entrepreneurship as an aptitude or inborn skill, involving intuition and other such faculties that can’t really be taught in a classroom.


But post-graduate studies are, in fact, beneficial to entrepreneurs in many ways.


The returns, while not readily appreciable in terms of profit, are significant, as are the various principles and insights that can be gained from classroom learning.


Examples of these principles are those that govern the daily administration of a business. For entrepreneurs who might have degrees or are experts in their field, but who have not had the advantage of formal business training, post-graduate entrepreneurial studies will give them a working knowledge of accounting, marketing, and other essential business skills.


As many entrepreneurs will tell you, starting a business often requires the owner to wear several hats. He will have to know how to prepare a business plan, raise funds, assemble a team, and process all the legal and administrative paperwork.  


Post-graduate studies will not only equip the business owner with the necessary know-how, but will give him the decided advantage of familiarity with the various aspects of operations once he is able to delegate his responsibilities to a growing staff.


Many entrepreneurs would also tell you that much of their business acumen comes from experience, usually accumulated over several years. Those years are often fraught with failures as well as successes—setbacks which were just as often not easy to overcome.


Post-graduate studies help to shorten the learning curve considerably, allowing entrepreneurs to draw from the experience of seasoned instructors who well know the challenges that business owners face. Having the benefit of hindsight spares these entrepreneurs from having to undergo avoidable hardships, or at least will prepare them for managing difficult situations.


Part of that preparation involves gaining fresh perspectives of various industries against a variety of economic backdrops. Though an entrepreneur may already be involved in or has his sights set on a particular industry, such insights will enable him to learn strategies applicable to his own needs, or even to spark new business ideas.


On top of meeting mentors, post-graduate studies also provide excellent networking opportunities for entrepreneurs to meet potential partners, suppliers or even clients. The classmate sitting next to you today might well be sitting with you at a board meeting tomorrow.


This is because entrepreneurship is on the rise in Singapore.


Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Trade and Industry, Low Yen Ling, has noted that more and more of the nation’s youth are becoming open to entrepreneurship as a viable career.


Minister for Trade and Industry, S. Iswaran says entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are set to play an even more important role in Singapore’s future economy. SPRING Singapore  notes that 180,000 local SMEs make up 99% of the country’s enterprises, and contribute to nearly half of its gross domestic product. They also provide jobs for 70% of the country’s workforce.


The Committee on the Future Economy says Singapore also needs more start-ups, not only because of the employment opportunities and revenue that they generate, but because of their ability to disrupt industries and drive innovation.  Many of these start-ups end up growing into profitable SMEs, or becoming acquired by large local enterprises (LLEs) or multinationals.


Recognising the growing contributions of entrepreneurs to the nation’s economy, the government continues to work towards creating an entrepreneur-friendly eco-system.


Apart from SPRING, which is a government agency that nurtures start-ups and first-time entrepreneurs, other government funding and assistance schemes include the Business Angels Scheme, which invests in start-ups based in Singapore. The National Research Foundation also offers an Early-Stage Venture Funding Scheme that assists venture capital firms to invest in technology start-ups.


There are also various other monetary grants, business incubators, debt-financing and equity financing programmes, tax incentives, and awards to encourage entrepreneurial endeavours.


Supporting entrepreneurship in terms of education is likewise increasingly coming to the fore.


Industry leaders have expressed the need to instil the necessary values and work ethic in young entrepreneurs, and highlighted the role played by mentorship in guiding entrepreneurs who are just starting out.


In response to this, government support for entrepreneurial education has come to include initiatives and programmes in publicly-funded universities such as those that send students abroad for internships at start-ups. The Ministry of Education has also included an Entrepreneurship category in its direct admissions as early as the secondary level.


Another government agency, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, has Labs set up in universities to expose students to technology and perhaps encourage them to begin start-ups of their own.  SGInnovate, which is a government initiative bridging technology and entrepreneurship, focuses on developing deep tech or applications such as robotics and artificial intelligence.


But for entrepreneurs who are already in business and see education as a means of enhancing their business capacities, SMU Academy offers post-graduate studies in Business and Entrepreneurship, as well as Business Improvement, Innovation and Excellence.


The Academy’s Business and Entrepreneurship programmes combine the expertise of academics and industry practitioners to give entrepreneurs insight into doing business in key regional economies. The programmes also provide opportunities for going abroad to learn and experience these economies in action, up close.


Business owners taking the Academy’s Business Improvement, Innovation and Excellence courses, on the other hand, study communication and leadership strategies, and sharpen their skills in other aspects of business operations. These include designing customer experience, data analytics, planning and operations, people management, case writing and service innovation.


In line with the government’s drive to support education for entrepreneurs, funding from SkillsFuture and Workforce Singapore are available for these courses. Contact SMU Academy today, and give yourself and your business the benefit of post-graduate studies in an entrepreneur-driven economy.