Changing hearts and minds about entrepreneurship

This blog is about entrepreneurial intentions

Dr. Badwan


Entrepreneurship has become the pillar of success. Countries grow their economies by supporting small businesses, companies use it to improve their corporate social image in the market and, people see it as a way to escape the bureaucracy of employment. Even when you open your social media account, you will find a post, advertisement, or hashtag about entrepreneurship.

One of the most beneficial initiatives that support entrepreneurs is professional entrepreneurship programs offered by business incubators. These programs provide mentorship sessions, office space, and courses that help entrepreneurs grow their businesses. Unfortunately, these programs do not aim to change people’s hearts and minds about entrepreneurship. They expect people to have an interest in entrepreneurship as a career.

It is not impossible to convince people to choose entrepreneurship as a career. Before arguing with this point, ask yourself this question; why are some people willing to influence their friends, family, or colleagues to go to the gym, attend a school or find a specific job but do not persuade them to become entrepreneurs? I will let you think about this question.

Since we have the power to change people’s minds, then we can also convince them to be entrepreneurs. So, where is the best place to ‘brainwash’ individuals to love entrepreneurship? The answer is the university. A university is capable of changing students’ mindsets about entrepreneurship through entrepreneurship education. Unlike professional entrepreneurship programs that aim to support businesses, entrepreneurship education enables students to either learn about entrepreneurship as an academic subject or explore it to decide whether entrepreneurship is a career they wish to pursue.

To understand how universities can ‘brainwash’ students to start a business, we need to understand some basics about human intentions. According to Ajzen (1991) who created the theory of planned behavior, the intention is a planned behavior, and it is formed by an individual i.) Attitude which means the evaluation of one’s attraction towards the behavior, ii.) Subjective norm is the social pressure from people that impacts one’s decision to perform the behavior and iii.) perceived behavioral control is when individuals assess their abilities to perform a targeted behavior.

Universities have a golden opportunity to increase the number of entrepreneurs by influencing students’ intentions to start a business. So how can they do that? Have you ever thought about teachers’ ability to influence their students? Unfortunately, there are not many teachers who can do that. To affect students’ intentions, a teacher must learn how to mentor. When we think about mentors, we think about professional individuals who guide nascent entrepreneurs. That is incorrect because teachers can apply mentorship practices during classroom activities such as simulations, challenges, case studies, and in-class debates.

Entrepreneurship education teachers’ mentorship style is different from that of professional mentors. Teachers can use mentorship practices such as questioning students’ thoughts, challenging them to think differently about entrepreneurship, demonstrating integrity, engaging in critical thinking, and constructing new information via collaborative discussions, reflections, and common short-term learning objectives.

When teachers use mentorship during an entrepreneurship education classroom session, it affects students’ emotional evaluation of the idea of entrepreneurship as a career choice. It also creates new beliefs about entrepreneurship and can impact students’ entrepreneurial intentions. Furthermore, mentorship can improve students’ self-confidence in their abilities to start a business. Moreover, teachers’ mentorship practices can develop mental attributes that are suitable to deal with challenges in an entrepreneurship career.

I conclude this blog with the following message. Universities that offer entrepreneurship education programs must stop using traditional teaching and start training teachers on how to use mentorship when teaching students about entrepreneurship. That will increase the number of entrepreneurs and inspire students to become true disruptive innovators.


Ajzen, I. (1991), “The Theory of Planned Behavior”, Journal of Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50(2): p 179-211.

Badwan, Abdul Rahman, Tamvada, Jagannadha Pawan and Rentocchini, Francesco (2022) Evaluating mentorship-based learning in entrepreneurship education. International Review of Entrepreneurship. (In Press):

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