Written by Tim Rosenberger
Wednesday, 09 October 2013 00:00
With Bradley’s entrepreneurship program having placed 19th in the nation by The Princeton Review this year, the school is quickly gaining notoriety for its topnotch program that gives students the tools to succeed once they graduate.
The Peoria college had its first small business class in the 1980s before concentrating on the business management major in 1996, and then in 2004, Bradley created its own entrepreneurship major. Finally, just last year after two years of trying to make it a reality, Bradley opened the Turner School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the first in the nation to be its own freestanding college separate from a College of Business.
“It’s a very entrepreneur endeavor to set up a school of entrepreneurship because you have to get buy in from everyone involved,” Eden Blair, Bradley assistant professor of entrepreneurship, said. “You have to make sure that they understand what we’re doing but realize that entrepreneurships [are] happening everywhere and that we need some kind of entity to help coordinate those activities.”
The Princeton Review looks at over 2,000 business schools in the nation and recognizes 50 entrepreneurship programs, 25 undergraduate and 25 graduate. Bradley having placed in the top 25 percent since 2011, means it is in the upper two percent of schools in the nation.
"The opportunity to expand a skillset or network with business influentials can launch a career forward or infuse new perspectives into a company's growth strategy,” Amy Cosper, vice president and editor in chief of Entrepreneur magazine, said in a Princeton Review press release. “The competitive edge these institutions provide is reason enough to see their value, no matter how untraditional the entrepreneurial pursuit may be."
The Turner School, which focuses on Bradley’s minor program, was not the only part of the school under consideration by The Princeton Review. The Foster College of Business offers Bradley’s entrepreneurship major. While the two work separately, they also collaborate on certain projects.
Among the many factors that make up Bradley’s success with the entrepreneurship program is the Turner School, Blair said. Most prominently, the school allows students who were not in the College of Business to get involved in entrepreneurship.
“The Turner School expands upon the successful entrepreneurship major already offered by the Foster College of Business Administration,” Gerald Hills, professor of entrepreneurship and the Turner Chair of Entrepreneurship, said in an archive interview. “We envision planting entrepreneurship seeds among one-fifth of our students each year. They will be in the vanguard of job creation and provide a brighter future for our country because of the Turner School.”
The minor allows students from any major to take classes in the entrepreneurship program. An added plus is students can take one class in entrepreneurship and see if they like it before taking a greater load of classes in the program.
People like Blair are trying to get such classes to count towards many different programs in order to give students more incentive to take the first step into entrepreneurship.
"Getting people from different majors, backgrounds and skill sets involved in entrepreneurship is one of the keys to its success and a goal Bradley strives for with their program since no one knows everything," Blair said.
“You have to work together to figure out how to make a really good idea [work],” Blair said. “This idea of a lone wolf entrepreneur, someone who is a maverick going out there and getting something started, that very rarely happens. It’s usually people coming together to work on an idea together.”
Some of the majors that work with the entrepreneurship program are students in nursing, engineering, business, marketing and accounting.
"Working with all these different majors is one of the aspects of Bradley’s program that sets it apart from others at other colleges in the United States," Blair said.
People studying entrepreneurship at Bradley do not just work with other students. They also meet with professionals from the field.
“It’s important that they get people with that type of experience to hear their ideas and get feedback from them,” Blair said. “I think often when they just hear from professors, they think of it just as a class exercise, but when they go out there, [they realize] these are real ideas in front of real people, who could give them real money, if they like the idea.”
Working with others goes beyond the classroom. Although Blair says most students do not start a business right out of college, Bradley entrepreneurship majors can, if they so choose, develop and/or start their own business while still in college.
If a student is interested in doing this, Bradley can get the student in contact with successful entrepreneurs in the area, who can work with the student and give advice.
This communal involvement with Bradley students and the city of Peoria is another reason for the program’s success, Blair said. Peoria is a great city for entrepreneurship due to its many programs and institutions that support the field in some way, such as Bradley and Caterpillar.
"Peoria is also a relatively cheap town to live in when compared to big cities like Chicago, which means students do not have to worry about expensive costs of living on top of costs for starting up a business, "Blair added.
Plus, with the advantages of the internet, Blair thinks it is now a better time than ever to start your own business. Ventures that used to cost tens of millions of dollars now cost $100,000 or maybe even $10,000.
There are many other advantages of Bradley’s program. One is the Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization, which is a student organization that holds a conference every year where students can go and meet with world-class entrepreneurs and network with other entrepreneur students.
Bradley is home one of CEO’s local chapters in addition to the national headquarters. CEO National is run by Gerald Hills, who is the founder and director of CEO National.
The success rate of students is hard to gage. Blair knows all the businesses started by former Bradley students in the past five years have continued to grow, her having never heard of a failed business begun by a Bradley alum.
That being said and despite all these resources at the hands of Bradley entrepreneur students, what lies ahead for students is unknown.
“The future is unpredictable,” Blair said. “[I] think we all know that, but for entrepreneurs, it seems to be even more so. They have to use very limited historical information to try and make guesses about the future, and that’s hard for an undergrad student to do. They like being told, ‘here’s this stuff, and if you do this, you’ll get an answer,’ but entrepreneurs just don’t know what the right answer is. We have to go out there and test it.”
Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 October 2013 13:28