Whether you’re launching a startup, strategizing intrapreneurial solutions for a corporate firm, or building a family business, developing an entrepreneurial mindset is often the first step toward achieving your goals.
But getting into entrepreneurship can be competitive. 85% of MBA students are interested in entrepreneurship, according to a 2021 white paper by venture capital firm, Illuminate Ventures.
That’s why the MBA program at Cranfield School of Management is focused on inspiring and equipping new generations of budding entrepreneurs with the skills and mindset needed to succeed.
We spoke to Dr Stephanie Hussels, Director of the Bettany Center for Entrepreneurship at Cranfield, to find out five key recommendations for developing an entrepreneurial mindset.
1. Commit to your passion
Becoming an entrepreneur won’t happen overnight and you’ll face challenges along the way, so it’s important to think about how passionate you are before making a long-term commitment.
Dan Rogers, a current student in Cranfield’s full-time MBA program, was 15 years into his career when he decided to take the leap.
“Committing to the one-year program was invaluable in expanding my horizons and learning what it really takes to become an entrepreneur,” he says.
He also says that Cranfield’s rural campus allowed him to truly immerse himself in the program, focusing solely on himself and his career development without distraction.
You don’t have to have the best idea in the world. As long as you are willing to invest energy in learning and growing, you will be able to turn knowledge into action.
“Resilience, persistence and motivation are key starting points for anyone who wants to develop an entrepreneurial mindset,” explains Stephanie.
2. Understand the needs of the market
Entrepreneurship is not always about coming up with a brand new product or service, but also about understanding what customer needs are not being met and how to fill a gap in the market.
Students on Cranfield’s MBA program participate in hands-on experiences that teach them how to spot an opportunity and what investors are looking for.
Cranfield hosts the Southern European round of the global venture capital investment competition, where MBA students are put in the position of investors and forced to evaluate real market opportunities. They then present their findings to a real investment committee made up of senior investors and venture capitalists, Stephanie tells us.
This year, Dan’s team reached the global finals of the competition held in North Carolina, beating out other top-ranked business schools from around the world and the only non-US team to make the final six.
“The competition was great, but it really challenged us to support ourselves and our business decisions. Now I understand how to align customer needs with a solution and bring it to market,” says Dan.
MBA students at Cranfield can also go to the Bettany Center for Entrepreneurship to discuss how to bring their ideas to life, explore the Center’s research and ask those tough questions, Stephanie explains.
3. Plan your entrepreneurial vision and build a strategy towards it
When developing an entrepreneurial mindset, understanding your long-term intentions will help you overcome obstacles in a changing market and economy.
The Cranfield MBA teaches students how to strategize effectively in courses such as International Strategy and Strategizing in Challenging Contexts.
“Entrepreneurs are visionary people and our goal at Cranfield is to enable students to nurture their creativity and innovation to turn their vision into reality,” says Stephanie.
During the program, students engage in a variety of hands-on learning experiences that encourage them to develop strategies. These include startup weekends where students work on their entrepreneurial ideas and pitch to investors, or the Natwest Accelerator which focuses on developing green business solutions.
“Cranfield teaches you that there are so many different elements to developing your idea and putting them into practice really helps to understand what will work and what won’t,” says Dan.
4. Network with other entrepreneurs
Networking with other entrepreneurs and exchanging ideas is key. You never know, it could even lead to meeting a future business partner during your studies.
“The MBA offers a unique opportunity to create a group with other entrepreneurs who can serve as a sounding board,” says Stephanie.
The cohort at Cranfield consists of around 60 students with an intimate staff to student ratio of eight to one. Students are also offered individual career and leadership training.
“We’re constantly encouraged to talk and share our thoughts, even if we think they’re intangible, because there’s a great understanding that something you say can be a catalyst for you or someone else to get their idea off the ground,” says Dan.
The Cranfield alumni network consists of 28,000 professionals in 130 countries. Stephanie explains how many entrepreneurship alumni are still closely associated with the school and want to support new students. The school recently launched a Seed Fund in which alumni donors donated £25,000 to be invested as a convertible loan to promising entrepreneurs.
5. Learn from your failures to develop your entrepreneurial mindset
As an entrepreneur, learning from your mistakes and understanding where things went wrong can be one of the best ways to move forward.
For Dan, being able to test his ideas in a safe environment without the same consequences of going straight into the business world gave him much more confidence as an entrepreneur.
“The learning environment and experience at Cranfield transformed my ability to come up with ideas and create opportunities from mediocre to much stronger very quickly,” he says.
Becoming an entrepreneur is not without its challenges, but if you are willing to commit to developing an entrepreneurial mindset, you will be well on your way to success.