If you have been considering a career as an entrepreneur, you may have come across the concept of EDP, or Entrepreneurship Development Programme.
Put simply, an entrepreneurial development programme is a structured training program that can help you hone the abilities required for successful setting up a business and kickstarting your entrepreneurial journey.
An EDP is associated with not just entrepreneurs in the making, but with those who may have already got their feet wet as well. Even if you’ve recently started your business or have been running it for years, you can still benefit immensely by enrolling yourself in an EDP programme.
Entrepreneurship development programs have now become a popular and commonly recognised way for entrepreneurs, existing and budding alike, to:
- improve their knowledge base about entrepreneurship trends and opportunities
- develop their skills as an entrepreneur, innovator and leader
- hone the attributes necessary for running successful entrepreneurial ventures
Over the past few years, a number of private organisations as well as government institutions have begun offering their own entrepreneur development programmes, in order to foster the spirit of enterprise and boost entrepreneurship in the country. Through workshops, bootcamps and training programmes, these initiatives are actively helping improve the quality as well as quantity of entrepreneurs across various domains and industries. Fostering entrepreneurship, in turn, has numerous positive benefits such as creating further employment, strengthening the local and national economy and providing an alternative for better livelihoods through self-employment.
EDP: Is it for you?
Running a business can be hard. Many founders and leaders have often said that starting up and building their own business from the ground up has been the most challenging experience of their lives, even though it is equally rewarding.
Not only do you need to have a healthy appetite for risk in an uncertain environment, but you need to remain on the ball in terms of industry and market trends, constantly upgrading your skills as well as your product or service offering to compete with others in a similar niche as you.
To add to the challenge, with start-ups becoming more and more popular, the competition is only growing.
Signing up for an EDP can help give you the support structure and knowledge base to take on these challenges, and turn them into positive milestones. You often get to learn from and hear from experienced entrepreneurs, who will guide and mentor you through your journey with insights from their own personal and professional journeys.
EDP: What can you expect?
From time to time, our company organises Entrepreneurship Development Programmes in partnership with a government enterprise, in fields such as Digital Marketing, IT-enabled Services and other similar domains. A number of enthusiastic entrepreneurs attend our workshops – spirited individuals with unbridled passion and the determination to change their world! Their enthusiasm begins on Day One itself, with questions such as:
What is an entrepreneurship development programme? How will an EDP in Entrepreneurship help me? What is the need of EDP in my journey? What are the objectives of an entrepreneurship development programme?
I thought it may be useful to answer some of those questions here, since I am sure a number of you would have similar queries. So, here is a quick recap of answers to the various questions posed by inquisitive entrepreneurial minds I have encountered over the years:
- Regardless of which field or sector you come from, an entrepreneurship development program offers you the chance to step back and view your idea, innovation or enterprise from the perspective of the market or industry you are in.
- Personally and individually, it will help you identify your own strengths and weaknesses – what do you do well already, and what are those areas where you need to improve?
- For aspiring entrepreneurs, it takes a whole lot of courage and determination to take the leap of faith into entrepreneurship. An EDP can be a good way to bridge that transition and give you the confidence you need to commit and dive in, head first.
- For people who already have a business, it can be a good chance to re-evaluate both their business idea as well as their own professional goals. Is it time to push gears and take it to the next level? An EDP can help you figure that out.
- Do you know the goals, targets or milestones you want to achieve with your business, but are unsure of how to get there? Then an EDP may be the right choice for you.
- Sometimes, we have the time and passion, and we put in the effort. But we still don’t see results. There could be technical skills you’ve overlooked, that could help build your USP and differentiate you from the competition. Some EDPs can help you build specific domain-related skills as well.
- Lastly, what better way to learn about something than from someone who’s experienced it themselves? Interacting with experienced entrepreneurs provides the much needed perspective for others struggling with similar challenges or questions.
Differentiate yourself and your business with an EDP program
Where I work, we now run 3 different EDP programmes:
- A 6-day Course on Digital Marketing
- A 2-day bootcamp on Social Media Marketing
- An advanced 45-90 day Course on Digital Marketing
Depending on your existing knowledge and skill set, you can pick the right program for yourself. Our objective is not to help everyone build every skill, but simply to help add on a layer of skills over and above what you already know. In a way, we help you refine your existing skills and then develop new ones. This helps provide a strong foundation for your entrepreneurship journey and strengthen your business at the same time.
For instance, a critical aspect of our entrepreneurship development programs is to help entrepreneurs develop and leverage internet marketing skills. None of us have endless marketing budgets, and we need to optimise our marketing spend in the best possible way without compromising effectiveness of our campaigns. By learning about blogging, content creation and marketing strategies, our entrepreneurs learn to bootstrap while promoting their products and services, without compromising on quality.
Learning while doing, reflecting on failure and charting a pathway to success
If you are someone with some experience already, you might be asking yourself, what is the need for an Entrepreneurship Development Programme for me? Isn’t it better I focus purely on building my business, instead?
I have dealt with this question numerous times, and many entrepreneurs I’ve worked with finally recognise the benefits of an EDP in:
- preparing for the future
- preparing for uncertainty or risk
- learning about scaling up, and the associated challenges
- learning from failure, and building on it
- dealing with organisational or team issues
All of the above are the kinds of challenges faced by those already deeply involved in a business. Often, we are so busy firefighting and bringing our teams or products back on track, that we fail to look at our business journey strategically. Learning from the various modules of an EDP and hearing from other entrepreneurs can give us a different, yet critical outlook on how to surmount our day-to-day challenges. After all, learning what not to do can sometimes be even more important than learning what to do!
Straight from the horse’s mouth: Insights from my own journey
Once I began my career, you could say I was living and breathing the Great Indian IT Dream – hired by an MNC right after completing my studies as a software developer. A few years of slogging it out took me next to the Great American Dream. I somehow managed to find work in the US and moved.
You know how it can be, from thereon – once you get a Green card, it’s hard to look back. That’s what most people I know have done, and I’m sure that’s the case with many people you know too. Nothing wrong with that. Right?
Well, it’s definitely cool and our friends make it look even cooler by talking about their achievements, posting photographs from the most beautiful locations in the US, making us all jealous (including me!) and instilling boundless FOMO or the fear of missing out!
What we often don’t realise is that there is great uncertainly involved – now, for instance, it has become harder and harder to sustain good work in the US as an immigrant – with the Trump presidency and visa restrictions, the Great Indian IT Dream (which feeds into the Great American Dream) is slowly fizzling out.
For me, the realisation happened sooner rather than later. I quit within a year and decided to take another journey – this time, a roller-coaster ride into my very own entrepreneurship journey. It has been almost a decade since. And even though I sometimes question my decision to quit a well-paying job on those days that I’m battling fires on all fronts, I always come back to the realisation that becoming an entrepreneur was the best thing I could have ever done.
I learned my lessons the hard way – trial and error, picking up new skills without any formal training, making mistakes and learning from them. In my EDP programs, I try and share my insights with the group so that they can learn from my mistakes too. I encourage them to go out of their comfort zone, teach themselves what they don’t know and work better, not just harder.
As an entrepreneur myself, I know about the impatience one feels when you’re working yourself to the bone and still seeing no results. Through our Entrepreneurship Development Programmes, entrepreneurs learn the value of patience and good work. Rather than any get-rich-quick schemes, they learn how to focus on the most important stuff. When you do that, the money follows.
Final thoughts: Prerequisites for entrepreneurial development programmes
Here’s the most interesting thing. There are no exact pre-requisites for becoming an entrepreneur. Sure, some EDPs might require some minimum qualifications for attendance. But broadly speaking, anyone with the passion and commitment can become an entrepreneur.
No one is born with an entrepreneurial mindset – not even Bill Gates! The best entrepreneurs develop it over time.
Secondly, the richest people today never knew they would be the at the top someday. They simply persevered and inched slowly and painfully, making their way to the top.
Thirdly, if you have the right vision – to build great products, companies or teams – all you need is determination and the right supporting environment to bolster you through.
So, if you decide to sign up for an entrepreneurship development programme, go in with the right expectations. You will have to work just as hard as your trainer, if not harder. You won’t be given any formula to rake in the moolah, but you’ll be given the tools. You may not be given the money, but you will learn how to raise it. You will be able to network, learn from your peers, interact with those with much greater experience than you. You might even come across new opportunities for collaboration, or support through institutional schemes run by the government or other organisations that support entrepreneurs.
At the end of the day, if you are willing to put in a 100%, there will be countless things you can take away from an entrepreneurship development program. All you need is the willingness and the drive to say – ‘Yes, I can’!