5 Valuable Things I Learned In My Entrepreneurial Strategy Class

5 Valuable Things I Learned In My Entrepreneurial Strategy Class main image

Sponsored by Tsinghua University

Entrepreneurship is one of the most in-demand MBA specializations.

In the last three years, 25 percent of general management education candidates plan to pursue a career in entrepreneurship, according to a report by the General Management Admissions Council (GMAC).

A career in entrepreneurship is simultaneously challenging and rewarding, and there’s no set formula for overnight success, just sheer hard graft, drive, passion – and a good strategy.

While the number of venture deals and capital invested in startups continue to rise, today’s competitive market sees more start-ups failing than succeeding and there’s no way of knowing whether you’ll be one of the lucky ones.

This is why Tsinghua University’s Global MBA’s flagship MIT-Tsinghua Entrepreneurial Strategy course is an action-oriented course, designed to enhance students’ understanding of core strategic challenges and equip them with the appropriate framework for developing and implementing entrepreneurial strategies overtime.

The three-month sandwich course is led by entrepreneurship professors, Scott Stern and Professor Pierre Azoulay from MIT Sloan School of Management in the US, and Professor Gao Xudong, from Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management. 

Here are what some Tsinghua University Global MBA graduates had to say about their experience.

Strategy is just as important as having a good business idea

Professor Scott Stern, Professor Gao Xudong and Professor Zhang Wei with MBA students


Professor Scott Stern, Professor Gao Xudong and Professor Zhang Wei with MBA students
Image credit: Tsinghua University

“The greatest challenge of innovation-based entrepreneurship is not the idea itself, but the idea’s commercialization and execution. Strategy, after all, is fundamentally about making choices among different paths,” said a former Global MBA student at Tsinghua University.

When it comes to gaining a better understanding of what makes a strong entrepreneurial strategy, competition, customers, technology, and identity are the four key components to consider, according to Professor Stern.

The entrepreneurial strategy framework goes beyond considering day-to-day matters

While entrepreneurs might obsess over day-to-day issues, former International MBA graduate Saman Farid considered the limitations which entrepreneurs face and how the entrepreneurial strategy framework has shed light on dealing with such matters that come with being a successful entrepreneur.

He said: “The framework taught in this class has helped me to view things from a new level of altitude – company positioning, customer selection, efficient use of limited resources, collaboration with incumbent etc. 

“Thinking through these will mitigate the danger of trying to boil the ocean in product and market development,” he added.

The world has countless problems, or it has countless opportunities

Professor Pierre Azoulay teaching on the MIT-Tsinghua Entrepreneurial Strategy course.

Professor Pierre Azoulay teaching on the MIT-Tsinghua Entrepreneurial Strategy course.
Image credit: Tsinghua University

Entrepreneurs are typically open-minded and enjoy finding opportunities and solutions where others might not. 

In recent years, retail, education, and health have been among the sectors attracting the most early-stage entrepreneurial activities in China. Faced with a rapidly-changing business landscape and increasing globalization, it’s important that students become “attuned to the issues of competitive strategy” said Azoulay.

Gravitating towards issues in society which necessitate innovative and creative solutions is a powerful move. Almost half (42 percent) of start-ups fail as a result of misreading market demand, while 14 percent of start-ups fail due to not considering their customers’ needs.

For example, in 2017, it was found that US healthcare startups were the strongest industry, bringing in $36.6 billion in revenue.

What’s more, with the university’s ideal location in the heart of the bustling technology hub of Zhongguancun (renowned as China’s very own Silicon Valley), students are empowered as they find themselves surrounded by a unique caliber of businesses, start-ups and ventures.

How to develop effectual reasoning 

“The course itself was not only a valuable academic experience but also, perhaps more importantly, a chance to more tangibly bridge the opportunities before us in the present with the inevitable demands of the future,” said Tim Hesler, a Global MBA Tsinghua graduate.

Critical thinking is key

Professor Stern with MIT-Tsinghua Entrepreneurial Strategy course students.

Professor Stern with MIT-Tsinghua Entrepreneurial Strategy course students.
Image credit: Tsinghua University

“As an aspiring entrepreneur myself, I found the course to be especially beneficial in preparation for my post-MBA path. The content was not simply a rehashing of conventional entrepreneurial wisdom, but instead it presented fresh frameworks through which to consider both age-old and emerging challenges and decisions,” said Tim.

Another Global MBA graduate is grateful to be able to look at both sides of the coin when it comes to not just learning how to succeed, but also how businesses fail – and what can be done to avoid following the same fate.

“As a former startup employee currently interning at a seed-stage VC, I found this course especially helpful for thinking more critically about why some companies succeed while the vast majority fail,” they said.

“Too often we praise companies for their innovative ideas, but forget to consider that the road to success was never straightforward, and never guaranteed.”

Written by Stephanie Lukins

As the Head of Sponsored Content for TopMBA.com and TopUniversities.com, Stephanie creates and publishes a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. She attended the University of Portsmouth where she earned a BA in English Language and an MA in Communication and Applied Linguistics.

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