When you google something and end up at my blog, google analytics records your search request and shows it to me. (Somewhere George Orwell is nodding and thinking “I told you so, but what government agency is named google?”) Anyway, the other day there was an entry for “starting salaries for entrepreneurship majors”. I started laughing and shaking my head. My first thought was: “Wow, this is really stupid, they want to be paid to risk other people’s money!?” Then I remembered that this is what fund managers get paid to do.
Entrepreneurship is hot. Lots of business schools are investing lots of money in developing entrepreneurship programs. There are many reasons for this: entrepreneurship is important to economic diversification and national competitiveness; it is important to university efforts to commercialize research, many new jobs are in small start-ups not large companies and many entrepreneurs who have money like to give it to schools to create more people like themselves, etc. etc. Taking entrepreneurship courses and developing entrepreneurial skills is important. Every student should understand the business development process: be able to identify a market opportunity, put together a credible business plan and know what it takes to get the business adequately funded and positioned for success.
Yet, I fear that entrepreneurship is in danger of becoming the new general business degree. It is what students decide to get when they don’t know what else to get, aren’t really that comfortable with numbers, and want something sexier than a GBS. Admit it: you would rather date an aspiring business owner than a general business major–it suggests way more initiative and prospects for a wealthy lifestyle.
Dating prospects aside, if you don’t want to start your own business soon, don’t be an entrepreneurship major. Many employers are leery of hiring entrepreneurship majors because they think they won’t stay with the company long. Or worse yet, that they will take what they learn from the company and go into competition against them. Also the best entrepreneurship programs help students develop a network of people who can help them launch their business. These networks are important to success. If you are not serious about starting a business shortly after graduation, your network will dissipate quickly and will be impossible to reconstruct later on.
If you want to work for a few years and then consider starting a business, you are better off thinking about getting a graduate degree in entrepreneurship when the time is right. If the promise of a big starting salary is what is motivating your current business school experience google accounting, finance, MIS or economics.