Dr. Lalit Sharma is an academician, researcher and trainer in the field of entrepreneurship. His area of expertise is youth entrepreneurship development and training. The other areas of interest include women entrepreneurship, HRM & Organizational Behaviour. He guides FPM scholars, teaches post-graduate students, grooms budding entrepreneurs and conducts research in the areas of youth entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education.
Dr. Sharma specializes in Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice, Entrepreneurial Lab, Creativity & Innovations and Entrepreneurial Effectiveness. He is actively engaged in the national research projects of the Government of India on entrepreneurship development. He is also well-recognized as a corporate trainer by industrial associations like BIA. His research articles on entrepreneurship have been widely published in several reputed international journals.
Entrepreneurship is regarded as the ultimate determining factor for the industrial growth of any country or region. India is in the midst of an entrepreneurial wave as it is emerging as one of the most exciting entrepreneurial societies in the world. Various government initiatives like Make in India, Startup India, and Skill India are intended to transform the Indian economy into an ‘entrepreneurial’ from the ‘managerial’ one. Though India is witnessing several initiatives in this direction, it requires yet more sustained efforts in the domain of entrepreneurship education. There are a few institutes which offer entrepreneurship education as a discipline, and there are some that offer it as a part of their wider syllabus. But the question remains whether these initiatives are enough to push entrepreneurship to a scale that India desires.
On hindsight, it is good to note that society is waking up to the charms of entrepreneurship and holds the discipline in high esteem. Having said that let me add, while entrepreneurship has become easy to pursue, the inhibitions associated with the discipline have not got wiped out completely. Studies reveal that a majority of the youth in our country is still interested in securing a well-paying job; very few take the conscious decision to pursue entrepreneurship as career. A few examples of failure further discourage potential entrepreneurs.
Education strengthens the most important part of an entrepreneurial environment viz. culture or value. A recent study by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) revealed that entrepreneurship education in academic curriculum is an important factor in encouraging effective youth entrepreneurship. According to the report, a culture of experiential learning will provide students an opportunity to learn from the professional world and thereby assist them in their entrepreneurial journey. Therefore, the report establishes that entrepreneurs are not necessarily born but could be nurtured and developed through training as well. The GEM report, therefore, suggests introduction of entrepreneurship in school education too.
It is a common observation that in countries where entrepreneurship has been flourishing the most; management and professional institutions play a key role in promoting entrepreneurship and reducing employment dependency. Institutions in these countries design structured entrepreneurship programs and courses to ensure that students give a thought to the charms that accrue out of entrepreneurship.
In the developing world, entrepreneurship is picking up gradually and the orientation towards secure, salaried jobs still predominates. However, on the flip side, what needs a mention is that these countries are experiencing a scenario where job opportunities are fast shrinking; thus giving ample reasons to promote entrepreneurship. Let me quote from a study by ASSOCHAM. It says that excluding a few top management institutions, more than five thousand management institutions in our country are producing “unemployable” sub-par graduates, earning less than Rs 10,000 a month if at all they find placements. Most of the well-known corporates pick the best management graduates of the country, leaving a large section to fend for themselves and settle for meagre salaries. Against this backdrop, entrepreneurship appears even more powerful.
Various stakeholders like the government, academicians, researchers and the private sector play an important role in enabling an entrepreneurial ecosystem. Government, as a policymaker, lays down path for emerging entrepreneurs to follow while academicians, researchers and private sector, as executors in different value chains, support them for new enterprise creation. Though efforts are being undertaken by academia in promoting entrepreneurship education, a lot is yet to be done in this respect if India wants to resolve the issue of unemployment.
The important point here is that entrepreneurship is also guided by knowledge like any other discipline; its intriguing nuances need to be understood in order to succeed, and these can be learnt. Courses on entrepreneurship, like the one Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII), Ahmedabad offers, develop an individual to constantly analyse opportunities and take initiatives based on calculated risks. They are trained in creating, developing and nurturing an enterprise by imparting knowledge on procedures, formalities, legal aspects, markets, business environment, skills of managing people, money, material and markets. The emphasis is also on building an aptitude to manage risks appropriately, take quick decisions and face ambiguities successfully. All this is strongly backed by soft skills. So, the curriculum is focussed on creating owner-managers and family business successors.
Strengthening entrepreneurship education will impact the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem as it will ensure development of skills required to generate an entrepreneurial mindset and will develop future leaders who solve more complex and integrated problems. It will also be helpful to most small and medium enterprises (SMEs) who wish their second/third generation to grow their family businesses. In India, most of the businesses are family-owned and most of these businesses do not have a succession plan. According to PricewaterhouseCooper’s India Family Business Survey 2016, barely 15 per cent of the family businesses in India have a well-documented succession plan in place.
Since entrepreneurship is closely connected to innovation, education in emerging economies will also have to focus on raising the innovation capabilities of budding entrepreneurs/students in order to ensure higher success ratio. The development of any country is directly linked to its innovation potential. More developed economies tend to have higher levels of education and more diverse industry-sector profiles. This, coupled with advanced technologies, encourages new-age entrepreneurs to become more innovative.
Government policies are enhancing their potential to support the entrepreneurial ecosystem. However, it is a matter of time before these initiatives translate into a booster dose for entrepreneurship development in India. Apart from improvement in education and training, along with government policies, factors like financial support, economic climate, commercial infrastructure and cultural and social norms play pivotal role in growth of entrepreneurship in India.