Initiation to entrepreneurship is not just about aspiring startups


“To offer all students a greater openness to entrepreneurship” is one of the wishesexpressed by Minister Frédérique Vidal to the higher education community in January 2019. Would it be a matter of further stimulating more activity creation and systematically spot potential Bill Gates?

The flowering of start-ups is certainly crucial for the French economy. But it turns out that the entire professional world is now looking for skills that, until now, were specific to entrepreneurship. The development of digital technology within companies has given rise to new business models that are becoming more widespread, from digital natives to traditional businesses – all of which are being reinvented to remain competitive.

Develop agility

Although many companies first adopted new tools to digitize their offers, it quickly became clear that this transformation needed to be more global and also concerned internal processes, organizational methods, management or even the culture of the company. the company. With the passage of activities to digital, the interactions between employees are multiplying, making the environment complex and difficult to predict.

The recent wave of innovations from the deployment of artificial intelligence amplifies this phenomenon, as Jack Ma pointed out in Davos, in 2018. In this new context , which some summarize by the acronym “VUCA” (of the English volatility , uncertaintycomplexity, < ambiguity ), companies must strengthen the adaptability of their employees.

To increase responsiveness, companies must develop new infrastructures and reinforce the following skills of their employees:

  • the ability to manage uncertainty and change. More specifically, employees need flexibility, but also resilience to master this uncertainty, adapt to change and accompany it while being able to stay on course.
  • Empathy and curiosity to offer an experience that creates value for the customer, and therefore satisfaction.
  • the ability to work as a team and maintain a connection. Digitalization is creating new ways of working such as teleworking and new forms of horizontal organization in which employees have more autonomy and responsibilities.

These skills are precisely those that correspond to the know-how developed during the creation of a company.

Open the field of possibilities

Whether students want to start their own business or not, it’s important to let everyone face an entrepreneurial situation. Initiatives to promote this state of mind have certainly increased in recent years, from “start-up weekends”, punctual, to long-term training or support courses like those offered by the poles “PEPITE » .
These initiatives, however, only attract entrepreneurs at heart. That’s why we decided to test at IAE Aix Marseille the principle of entrepreneurship awareness for all, with the creation of a weekend of innovation, the WEI3. This event, lasting two and a half days, was mandatory for all first year master’s students.

  • the collaborative dimension (team, coaches …) is important and preponderant
  • students feel they have started competencies
  • several students manage to formalize the dimension of pivot attached to such a type of project notably through the acceptation of a questioning of their initial idea.

Finally, some students admitted to feeling a form of aversion, or apprehension before the event, then, at the end of the event, recognized that the event had made them reconsider the entrepreneurial adventure then they did not initially have a real appetite for business creation. Is not this a form of serendipity necessary for innovation?

Strengthen your CV

This generalization of an awareness of entrepreneurship would indeed meet the challenges of the contemporary context. Bringing the student experience of a business creation is a privileged way to develop the skills necessary to face the environment “VUCA”.
Plunged into a new experience, the student is confronted with uncertainty. To advance independently in the business creation process, the student must also be proactive vis-à-vis knowledge that will not be brought to him in a traditional way. He must be curious and attentive, engaged in a certain way in a self-training process that he will have to lead throughout his professional life.

By confronting the problems of a nascent company, the student intrinsically perceives the need to focus on the market. Such a situation must also be based on educational engineering that aims to rebuild an entrepreneurial ecosystem (coaches, mentors, and professional experts).

complex environment is created, in which the student must find his place, be heard and evolve by weaving links between the various actors. The student collaborates with other students and also learns from them. He discovers how to work with various profiles, and to co-build with different actors. These skills are now needed to prepare students for future company developments.

Author Bios: Guerin anne-marie is MCF- Director MSc 1st year, IAE Aix-Marseille Graduate School of Management, Antonin Ricard is a Lecturer and Valérie Mathieu is a Teacher-researcher, IAE Aix-Marseille Graduate School of Management all at Aix-Marseille University