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June 11, 2021


by Jeannet Kiessling, Ph.D.

Starting your own company has become an attractive and sought after goal in the past years. The internet has opened up many opportunities to either sell online or digitise offline products or services. The rockstar icons of the tech world - Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Mark Zucckerberg, just to name a few - have let millions of teenagers dream about a similar career. 

According to a study by Junior Achievement and Ernst & Young, 41 percent of teens want to become entrepreneurs. What’s more, girls actually have a higher desire to start their own business: 61 percent of girls compared to 54 percent of boys would like to have their own start-up.(1) The trend continues in older individuals as 60% started their business between the age of 40 and 60 and roughly the same amount thinks that being an entrepreneur is a great career. Once they made the decision to be their own boss, almost all - a dazzling 97% - can’t see themselves ever going back to being employed. That probably explains why there are close to 600 million entrepreneurs in the world! (2)

The odds of being successful with a business have drastically increased. Almost 80% of small companies make it through the first year, which is traditionally the hardest hurdle to take. Those who fail, do so because of a lack of market need. While entrepreneurs have very different backgrounds, the majority of founders are still university-educated. Two thirds graduated from college, and a third has only a high school diploma.(3) We asked ourselves: What are the most relevant attributes of future entrepreneurs and what should you look for in a program that teaches entrepreneurship? 

Let’s hear from people who have something to say about that. 

Walt Disney: “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”

So many ideas are left uncovered, because those who had them lacked either courage, or endurance or skills. Going forward despite not knowing how to solve the obstacles that might show up on the road ahead, is a sign of a great entrepreneur.

Learning: Entrepreneurs are doers, not talkers.

Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Having a valuable reason to start a business, gives you the right motivation to move forward. Even when things get rocky. It keeps you aligned with your goals and allows you to pivot to make things work. 

Learning: Entrepreneurs thrive on their mission to change the world.

John A. Shedd: “A ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”
As much as we want to plan everything, as an entrepreneur you have to eventually “take the ship to sea”. Of course, you want to make sure that the ship is well built, but it still needs to hit the rocky waters to prove that it doesn’t sink. 

Learning: Entrepreneurs step out of their comfort zone and test their product even if it is not perfect.

Anonymous: “If you don’t have big dreams and goals, you’ll end up working for someone that does.”
Every entrepreneur starts with a dream. It is what motivates them and makes them try new things. It lets them venture into unknown territory. And it describes their mindset. Entrepreneurs can stomach uncertainty, setbacks and difficulties where others retreat to safety.

Learning: Entrepreneurs don’t let anything stop them from following their dreams.

Thomas Edison: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Failure is part of the entrepreneurial process. The key is to get back on your feet and try again. It is the ability to see the glass as half full, not half empty that sets the entrepreneur apart.

Learning: Entrepreneurs don’t get discouraged by failure. They see it as part of their learning process.

Jeff Bezos: “(...) the good thing is, with innovation, there isn’t a last nugget. Every new thing creates two new questions and two new opportunities.”
Entrepreneurs have great imagination. They always look for new opportunities and take the latest innovations as inspiration.

Learning: Entrepreneurs focus on opportunity not on missed chances. 

If you understand what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur, you also understand that most MBA programs might fall short of teaching the necessary skills. Besides classes in Accounting, Business Strategy, Marketing Management, Economics, Finance, Human Resource Management, Operations Management, Statistics, Production, Information Systems….there is the mindset that makes a great entrepreneur. Look for this important element in any program you apply for. Here are some great resources:

Check out our new and innovative program in Sustainability, Entrepreneurship and Technology here:


  1. Junior Achievement and Ernst&Young


  2. Ibid. 


About Jeannet

Jeannet-Susann Kiessling is Head of Business Development U.S. at Tomorrow’s Education. She has worked at the German Defense Ministry as Political Advisor to Minister Volker Rühe, and as Head of the Foreign and Security Policy Department at the CDU. Jeannet has been a speech writer for several high-profile CEOs and VP Corporate Communications at Bertelsmann. She studied at Johns Hopkins and Oxford Universities and received her Ph.D. from the Technical University of Dresden. Together with her husband and 3 kids she lives in Silicon Valley.