A decade ago, nearly all of the smartest business school graduates flocked to Wall Street traditional corporate jobs in finance and management.
Today, I see a growing number of newly minted Ivy League graduates decide to start their own businesses or go to work for Silicon Valley startups.
In one study of over 30,000 Wharton graduates, conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, researchers found that more than 7% of 2013 grads started their own companies right away — five times as many as in 2007.
They also discovered that, since 1990, nearly a quarter of Wharton grads have been entrepreneurs at some point, even if it wasn’t straight out of school.
I believe America today needs more entrepreneurs than ever. One of the great trends we’ve been witnessing over the past decade, and in particular the past 5 years, has been what you might call the “democratization” of entrepreneurship”. It’s a powerful trend and one that I think will have a huge impact not just on the US economy and workforce, but perhaps even more intensely on other areas of the world – particularly developing economies.
I predict that this growth is likely to continue and most probably accelerate for several reasons.
- The high number of students seeking entrepreneurial opportunities stems, in part, from the feeling of control that owning and running your own company provides. Even though they’re working at least as hard as the bankers, they have control over their own destiny. In fact, entrepreneurs tend to be happier than workers in any other profession. Also In places like Silicon Valley, breaking into the scene is all about who you know, making these networks invaluable assets.
- Earning an MBA creates an instant backup plan in case the business fails. Knowing they can always count on a graduate degree from a top school to land a more traditional job allows MBA holders to take more risks. They’re able to turn an entrepreneurial failure into something that won’t hurt their resumes, as opposed to other botches, such as bad performance reviews.
- For the older set who cut their teeth on Wall Street, Silicon Valley or a path to entrepreneurship may offer the promise of a healthier lifestyle. Being a Wall Streeter myself, I know for a fact that the Wall Street vets who switch careers are usually making “a lifestyle choice.”
- Given Wall Street is today under a lot of regulatory scrutiny and pressures that are outside of any individual day-to-day control, going to a high-profile technology company or taking the entrepreneurial path can be more liberating and freeing. It is the ultimate place where you can be creative instead of reactionary in addition to the innovation, creative freedom, and meaningful work that is not available anywhere else.
- Most importantly, entrepreneurs don’t care about pedigree. It is a fact that entrepreneurial communities are networks, not hierarchies. Openness, the free flow of information, the lack of community gatekeepers and entrepreneurs as leaders are hallmarks of these networks. As a result, the fundamental tenants that underpin these networks there is a decreased emphasis on pedigree, background and connections. While this hasn’t completely taken hold in all countries, in many places entrepreneurs are rightly judged by the strength of their ideas, the value they bring to the community and the success of their past efforts and not on their family name or where they attended school. This has opened the door for many entrepreneurs who 10 or 20 years ago would have found themselves cut off from the opportunities they have today.
Fundamentally, I believe the world does and will further benefit from the democratization of entrepreneurship as more people look to themselves as the engine to grow beyond their circumstances. And this phrase works in reverse as well – entrepreneurship promotes democratization. Entrepreneurs value the stable systems that democracy tends to bring, they see themselves and not government as the answer to their societies challenges, they provide jobs and economic stability that promote stable society and they work in networks that by their nature are fundamentally more democratic than hierarchical regimes.
I don’t have a crystal ball and I don’t know exactly what the next 20 or 50 years will bring. But I do believe that the global trend towards “entrepreneurship” will continue and that the world will be much better for it.
Share your thoughts…