Entrepreneurship is at the heart of the American Dream. But is taking a company public and turning into an overnight millionaire really a viable option for today’s wannabe entrepreneurs? Mike Glauser says no—at least not for most of us. Instead, he thinks it’s time for a renewed focus on small businesses—the backbone of the American economy.
“If you played high school football, you have a better chance of being drafted by the NFL than the average person has to build the next Google or eBay,” says Glauser, who serves as executive director of Utah State University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and is the author of Main Street Entrepreneur.
“Most business school students learn the Silicon Valley model. This is where you create a prototype, you test it and prove it works, then go get millions of dollars from a VC, go public, and plan your exit strategy. That’s been held up as the ideal, but it’s not the reality,” he says. “We need to celebrate and teach about small businesses. That’s where people can really start something.”
Glauser has prioritized teaching small business principles to all USU students. “We teach entrepreneurship from a practical perspective,” he says. “We offer a minor in entrepreneurship that can apply to all majors. We make how to build a small business as part of the curriculum, so all students in the program learn skills of innovation, problem-solving and building a business. Their confidence goes through the roof. They realize that they can figure it out.”
Glauser, who spent several months traveling throughout America to discover small business trends, which is the premise of Main Street Entrepreneur, says that it’s not just business school students who need think about small business—the average American also needs to be equipped with the basic know-how to start his or her own business.
“Jobs are going away in every single industry with the acceleration of technology,” he says. “More and more of us are going to have to create our own jobs and be our own bosses. It’s a time that we’re going to have to take care of ourselves. It’s no longer how I find a job, it’s how do I create my own job?”