Interest in entrepreneurship as a post-business school career goal is also growing year-on-year. In 2021, the Graduate Management Admission Council’s (GMAC) Prospective Students Survey found that 23% of business school applicants wish to pursue entrepreneurship after their studies. This represented a slight increase from 2020.
So, what skills are vital for careers in startups or innovative leadership? This was a crucial question for the course leader of the online Master in Entrepreneurship Management and Innovation at the University of Bath School of Management.
We spoke to Stoyan Stoyanov about the three most important skills for students interested in entrepreneurship management and how the innovative online MSc is helping students achieve their goals in startups.
1. Develop a strong grasp of finance principles
Entrepreneurship is a broad subject, but among all the business principles vital for founders, a strong grasp of finance is undoubtedly among the most important.
In fact, 16% of startup failures can be directly linked to financial problems. If you don’t have an innate understanding of financial projections and startup funding, it could make it much harder to bring your product or service to market.
While the online Entrepreneurship Management MSc program at Bath takes a broad approach to innovation by providing courses on topics such as marketing, human resources, and intellectual property, the program places a strong focus on finance.
Students at Bath explore how to make financial decisions, develop financial modelling, and how to evaluate cash flow needs. Instead of providing a traditional take on finance, all financial knowledge in the master’s program links back to how to build a successful startup.
There are also core courses on entrepreneurial finance specifically, which explores startup financing, investment, and how to use financial metrics to assess a company’s financial health.
For students, the learning of finance skills isn’t confined to just theory.
“The MSc in Entrepreneurship Management and Innovation includes case studies, simulations, and other hands-on learning opportunities that allow students to apply their knowledge of financial management to real-world scenarios,” adds Stoyan.
2. Understand how to lead others
Leadership skills don’t just appear fully formed. Molding yourself into a successful startup leader takes reflection and practice, which is exactly what many masters in entrepreneurship management programs offer students the chance to do.
“Entrepreneurship is the practice of initiating, inspiring, and motivating people to join you on the journey of realizing an initiative,” says Stoyan, “cultivating leadership skills is at the core of making anything happen.”
Despite being an online master’s degree, the MSc in Entrepreneurship Management and Innovation gives students plenty of opportunities to interact with peers to build leadership skills, including practical design sprint activities and a real-world final project.
“Management is fundamental for putting the right systems in place, and ensuring that your business can withstand time, competition, and market fluctuations,” says Stoyan.
These initiatives provide students with hands-on experience and the opportunity to apply their knowledge of innovation to real-world problems and scenarios—this is critical if you’re wanting to become an entrepreneur yourself, or even practice intrapreneurship in a company.
3. Embrace innovation and creative thinking
Startup leaders would get nowhere without innovation. A flexible, creative mindset will ensure that your business can thrive despite challenges and allow you to identify possibilities in markets that no-one else sees.
It’s not always easy to develop an innovative mindset, which requires practicing flexibility and alternate ways of thinking.
The Entrepreneurship Management and Innovation program at Bath solves these issues by offering ample time for students to collaborate with peers, who come from 40 different countries.
“We promote knowledge exchange between the program participants, which allows students to better embrace valuable innovative practices,” says Stoyan.
Stoyan explains that innovative thinking isn’t just a part of startup life—it can also be invaluable for people working in large companies. For this reason, the degree prioritizes transferrable skills in innovation that students can carry throughout their career.
“Some graduates choose to start their own businesses, using the skills and knowledge they gained in the program to develop new products or services and build successful companies,” he says.
“Others choose to work for established companies, using their entrepreneurial skills to drive innovation and growth within these organizations.”
Whatever your career goals, having the opportunity to practice vital entrepreneurship management skills in a supportive business school setting can be a great way to enter your chosen career path with the confidence you need to thrive.