KENNESAW, Ga. – Kennesaw State University is the only college in Georgia that bestows an entrepreneurship business degree and has created the KSU Entrepreneurship Center on campus.
Christopher C. Hanks is the founder and executive director of the Entrepreneurship Center which represents an entirely new approach to preparing students for the business world.
“KSU not only is the only college to offer an entrepreneurship degree in the state, but is one of the very few to offer it in the Southeast,” Hanks said. “A lot of schools offer entrepreneurship classes or entrepreneurship as a minor. But we offer a BBA degree in entrepreneurship.”
Hanks said KSU’s entrepreneurship curriculum takes a unique approach from other colleges.
“We emphasize mindset first, then skillsets. That is one of the reasons, I believe, that gives us the results we’ve been getting. The information is out there in many forms already.
“You can Google it and get tons of information. The difference maker is changing the ways students think and act. Then you give them the skills they need to be successful,” Hanks said.
The first course in the curriculum is “The Entrepreneurial Mind.” Its focus is to get students to think like entrepreneurs first. In many ways it sounds simple, but it is about approaching work, your job and even life from a new perspective.
Take jobs for example. The standard mindset is one works and produces x amount of product or service for y amount of wages.
The entrepreneurial mindset is about finding ways to be more useful and valuable to employers and exceed their expectations. In many ways, Hanks said, the idea is to treat the boss like the customer. And the only way to win over the customer is to give a better value.
“So, every day I’m working to exceed my boss’s expectations, I receive more rewards or time off,” he said.
Two things happen with that mindset, KSU has shown. First, entrepreneurial students perform better in the workplace and thus earn 27 percent more after graduation than peer students.
“We have employers lined up to hire our students because they value the way these students think and act in the workplace,” Hanks said. “They strive to exceed expectations.”
Just preaching the mantra of exceeding expectations is not enough however. KSU courses are designed to create ways for students to experience the rewards of the entrepreneurial mindset. At the core is the idea to treat your boss like your customer. Exceed his expectations.
“We give the students courses that challenge them and also change them. So that even if the go on to a job rather than founding a business, they will be more successful,” Hanks said. “To get students to internalize these ideas, they have to understand why the process works. When they do, they begin to act differently and people perceive them differently.”
The coursework is also about instilling successful skillsets to help students succeed in their endeavors, Hanks said.
Among these skills is the ability to overcome the fear of failure. That is something everyone has, but only a few conquer it to be successful. How do you discover what you really want and then how do make a plan to get it?
These are tools, not gimmicky platitudes. In entrepreneurial classes students learn to identify and then overcome those fears by finding solutions.
“If it sounds messy, that’s because it is. Getting there is messy, but if you persevere you will get there,” he said. “But create an action plan and then you hold people accountable, including yourself.”