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An interview with Professor Susan Duffy about the new Entrepreneurship Minor - TRANSRIPT

What is entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurship is the process of recognizing an opportunity to create value, then harnessing the resources and leading the people to bring that opportunity to the world. Entrepreneurs are creative problem solvers. They see a gap between what does exists and what should exist, and they build an enterprise to close that gap. The enterprise they build might be a for-profit business, a non-profit agency, or part of an existing organization. We are all potential entrepreneurs. We see "opportunities" to create change every day. Most entrepreneurial ventures start from someone looking at a situation in their workplace or in their personal lives and thinking… I know a better way to do this. But we are often not sure how to get from that great idea to a new reality.

Why is Simmons adding the entrepreneurship Minor?

That is where the new Minor in Entrepreneurship comes in. The minor complements any major and is designed to support Simmons students to gain the knowledge and to develop the skills they need to tap into their own entrepreneurial potential.

It helps students to:

  • think creatively about the opportunities around them,
  • develop feasible action plans, and
  • execute their plans to create a net positive impact.

These skills are immediately useful for any career path. If you are not quite ready to start your own venture, you can create value in any work setting by applying an entrepreneurial mindset to your everyday activities. Employers in all sector s want employees who can think outside of the box and deliver outcomes. That is what entrepreneurship is all about. Being entrepreneurial is a career catalyst.

The Minor consists of five courses that help students maximize their entrepreneurial potential

  1. Introduction to entrepreneurship. Students learn about the phenomenon on entrepreneurship and how it impacts the national and global economy. They learn about rewards and challenges from existing entrepreneurs, they "try on" entrepreneurship by developing their own feasibility study for a new venture idea, and they engage in multiple activities that help them get familiar with the many forms of entrepreneurship.
  2. Principles of Marketing. In this course students learn how to identify and quantify appropriate markets for entrepreneurial initiatives and develop recommendations and strategies to compel action. In other words, they learn how to answer the questions: who is this venture for, how many people need or want what I have to offer, where are they, and what message do I need to create to get their attention?
  3. Managing your venture's bottom line. This course gives students the basic financial acumen to start and manage a venture. Whether a venture is for-profit, not for profit or part of an existing organization, it has to be financially feasible and sustainable. Otherwise, it will not survive. This course teaches students how to estimate startup costs, calculate the expenses of operating the new venture and to develop financial models to asses venture viability.
  4. Flex Course. Students can take courses from any field to fulfill this requirement. The idea is for students to stretch themselves and take a course that is key to their entrepreneurial aspirations. For example, an art major who wants to start a new non-profit venture that uses photography as an activity to work with troubled teens may take adolescent psychology as her flex course. Or, a management major who sees herself opening a healthy cuisine ethnic restaurant might take a services marketing course.
  5. Leading your entrepreneurial venture. This is the course that brings it all together where students design their new venture. They learn about launching, leading and growing their venture, aligning their venture with their personal and professional goals, and they learn about managing the people, or human capital, they will need to accomplish their entrepreneurial dreams.

All of these courses are complemented by co-curricular activities such as the leading women entrepreneurs series, networking events, mentoring opportunities, and working in Simmons own Fair Trade t-shirt company, Edun Live on Campus. Together the in-class co-curriculuar activities help students gain the competence and confidence they need to think and behave entrepreneurially in any setting.

How might adult women-Dix Scholars-benefit from an entrepreneurship minor?

The minor is particularly beneficial to Dix Scholars. Dix women have been out in the world longer than traditional undergraduates they have been there done that and have creative, important ideas to bring to the world. The minor will give them a launch pad to "entrepreneur" their ideas in a way that works for them—start a new venture, contribute entrepreneurial energy to an existing organization, or think and behave entrepreneurially in their personal lives. Whatever way they choose to sail the ship, they will have the knowledge and skills to create value for themselves and others.

Why is teaching entrepreneurship important?

Entrepreneurship is changing the world. The most significant way that we can innovate, create jobs, and build economies is through entrepreneurial activities. This is not just an American phenomenon. Around the globe, world leaders, policy makers, and educators are working together to create environments that stimulate and support entrepreneurship. Here in the United States, we are ahead of the curve. Women are creating new ventures at twice the rate of the national average.

  • 10.1 million firms are owned by women (75% or more), employing more than 13 million people, and generating $1.9 trillion in sales as of 2008.
  • 1.9 million firms are majority-owned (51% or more) by women of color in the U.S. These firms employ 1.2 million people and generate $165 billion in revenues annually.

In a survey conducted at Simmons by Professor Teresa Nelson, The Elizabeth J. McCandless Chair in Entrepreneurship here in the SOM, in 2008, over 80% of students surveyed said that they would like to start a venture “someday.” This is consistent with the new thinking about careers. People will have many jobs over their lifetimes and founding their own venture is certainly one of them.

Entrepreneurship is known as the great equal opportunity employer. Literally EVERYONE can do this with the right knowledge and skills and we are all better off for it. No matter what field you study, knowing how to transform your ideas into a viable, value creating venture makes a positive net impact on society. We can be entrepreneurial business women, nurses, scientists, educators, therapists and artists.

The time is NOW for women entrepreneurs. By taking advantage of the entrepreneurship minor, Dix Scholars at Simmons College are poised to make their mark! We will be here every stop of the way supporting their success.

For example, I worked with a Dix Scholar this summer whose daughter has severe food allergies. She had to learn the painful lessons of how to prepare food, coach childcare providers, and manage even routine social events (a typical birthday party can be potentially deadly for a child with severe food allergies.) so she created a new venture that used her years of experience and knowledge about lifestyle management of food allergies to create a venture that provides tools and guides for parents and childcare providers to simplify and manage the lifestyle changes incurred by a multiple food allergy diagnosis.