Help Me Learn More About Entrepreneurship

Help Me Learn More About Entrepreneurship

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I realized the other day that I have been researching and teaching entrepreneurship for nearly 25 years, but I really don’t know as much about it as I would like. At least once a fortnight, someone — a student, a reader, a co-investor, a reporter, or a government staffer — asks me a question about startups that I don’t know the answer to.

Fortunately, I’m due a sabbatical in the upcoming academic year, which will allow me to spend concentrated time learning some of the things I don’t know. But that opportunity just raises the question: What’s the best way for me to learn more about entrepreneurship?

I am very much influenced by the concept of “the wisdom of the crowd.” The idea, which was made popular by the book The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki, is that the collective views of a group of people provide more accurate information than the opinion of a single expert. By averaging different people’s responses, you get rid of the noise that comes from each person’s idiosyncratic beliefs and can see the patterns in the data.

(The wisdom of the crowd is why I devote most of my columns to information from polls or aggregate government data about entrepreneurship. But that’s a story for another time).

I have several ideas for how I could spend a year-long sabbatical to learn more about entrepreneurship. I am hoping to use the wisdom of you — the crowd — to figure out which one is best.

To do that I need your help. Please tell me which approach you think I should take:

What's the best way to learn more about entrepreneurship?

  • Start a company. (51%, 2,093 Votes)
  • Interview a sample of successful and unsuccessful startup company founders. (12%, 507 Votes)
  • Read books written by successful entrepreneurs. (10%, 414 Votes)
  • Go to work for a high flying start-up. (7%, 305 Votes)
  • Get a job at a startup that isn't doing very well. (5%, 219 Votes)
  • Join a non-profit that supports entrepreneurs. (4%, 164 Votes)
  • Go to work for a venture capital firm. (3%, 125 Votes)
  • Administer a survey to entrepreneurs. (3%, 109 Votes)
  • Examine government data on entrepreneurship. (2%, 80 Votes)
  • Invest in startups as part of an angel group. (1%, 56 Votes)
  • Make investments in startups through a crowdfunding platform. (1%, 23 Votes)

Total Voters: 4,095

See All Polls

Feel free to share this article with others so they can vote as well.

I plan to seek approval for a sabbatical to pursue the approach that the crowd thinks is wisest. I can’t guarantee that the university will approve the idea, but academics are often persuaded by data. Moreover, at a minimum, I would avoid proposing an approach that people do not think is any good.

Entrepreneur Photo via Shutterstock

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Scott Shane Scott Shane is A. Malachi Mixon III, Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies at Case Western Reserve University. He is the author of nine books, including Fool's Gold: The Truth Behind Angel Investing in America ; Illusions of Entrepreneurship: and The Costly Myths that Entrepreneurs, Investors, and Policy Makers Live By.