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Want to differentiate yourself from your peers? Learn entrepreneurship skills

Article originally published in the Philadelphia Business Journal on Dec 2, 2019

Regardless of whether you start a business, work at a startup or work at an established
company, entrepreneurship skills will differentiate you from your peers and help you land
your first and subsequent jobs.

I was reminded of this on November 14 when I attended this year’s Startup Fest
sponsored by the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship of Drexel University, the
nation’s first stand-alone school of entrepreneurship founded in 2013. Since its founding,
the Close School has taught over 4,000 students enrolled from nearly every course of
study from across the University.

In January 2018, I wrote an article on the benefits of developing entrepreneurship skills
based on a previous Startup Fest I attended. This is an update of that article.
At Startup Fest, students from throughout Drexel showcase the businesses they are
building. These students are not only learning entrepreneurship skills, but also important
skills as the leaders of their fledgling businesses.

These entrepreneurs are honing their elevator pitches, developing business strategies,
choosing partners, hiring their first employees, building their teams, raising funds from
investors, protecting their intellectual property, choosing channels of distribution and
serving their customers or clients. They also are learning how to de-risk their decisions
and manage a P&L statement. They demonstrate perseverance and resilience as they
overcome obstacles on their journey to achieve success. These are the skills and
responsibilities of all business leaders.

I asked these entrepreneurs to describe the market they were aiming to penetrate, how
they would compete with other companies currently in the market, and how they would
differentiate their product or service so their business would attract customers. Asking
“why will people want to buy from you” focuses entrepreneurs on the most important
question that will determine the success or failure of their business.

These students are learning to be leaders in a real-time environment where their decisions
have real monetary consequences – much different than just learning from case studies
sitting in a classroom. Unlike entrepreneurship students, other students do not get the
opportunity to lead people or experience these wide range of responsibilities until well
into their careers.

Future bosses may say, “Don’t tell me it can’t be done. Find a way to do it.” You learn to
exhaust all possibilities as an entrepreneur before deciding to pivot. One learns how to
handle inevitable failure, and how to recover and try again. The adage, “Anyone who has
never made a mistake has never tried anything new” is true. Mistakes are inevitable.
What is important is what you have learned from them.

As an entrepreneurship student, you develop an attitude and skills attractive to future
employers. A future boss will want to know what you have accomplished in your
previous positions. Entrepreneurship skills and mindset will help differentiate you within
your current company when going for a promotion, or when applying for your next job at
a different company.

Starting a business teaches students how to sell their ideas to others, both verbally and
through graphical presentations, something all of us will be doing our entire careers,
regardless of position within an organization. Entrepreneurship students get real-life
feedback on whether their selling skills are effective and can adjust them.

Entrepreneurs learn networking skills due to the numerous interactions they have with a
variety of people. These skills are critical to career success. Future jobs are most likely to
come from one’s network, and the ability to effectively expand that network will help
land that next job.

My advice to all college students: If you can obtain entrepreneurship training, do so. It
will differentiate you among your peers, which will make you more attractive to future

Stan Silverman is founder and CEO of Silverman Leadership. He is the author of “Be
Different! The Key to Business and Career Success.” He is also a speaker, advisor and
widely read nationally syndicated columnist on leadership, entrepreneurship and
corporate governance. Silverman earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical
engineering and an MBA degree from Drexel University. He is also an alumnus of the
Advanced Management Program at the Harvard Business School. He can be reached at

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