The Entrepreneurial Revolution: Our Public Statement to US Congress
On July 6, Caryn Beck-Dudley presented her statement to the U.S. Congress, along with the International Council of Small Business, to advocate for business education's role in reshaping our world through the entrepreneurial revolution.
Caryn Beck-Dudley's Statement:
My name is Caryn Beck-Dudley, and I am the president and CEO of AACSB International and serve on AACSB’s Board of Directors. I am affiliated with The PhD Project, Beta Gamma Sigma, Responsible Research for Business and Management and the Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative as a member of each organization’s board of directors.
AACSB, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, is the world’s largest business education association with a network of more than 1,800 business schools, businesses, and nonprofit and public-sector organizations spanning over 100 countries and territories—all dedicated to accelerating innovation as we prepare over 4 million enrolled students to become future leaders. Among those educational institutions, over 950 have earned AACSB accreditation, the world’s highest standard of quality in business education. Educators, especially those focused on the discipline of entrepreneurship, are uniquely positioned—and empowered—to have the most influence on driving positive societal impact through research, thought leadership, and curriculum.
The potential to create global impact through entrepreneurship is limitless. Each of us is responsible for reshaping our world, but the greatest potential to empower generations to come is driven by the entrepreneurial revolution.By bringing together educators, researchers, policymakers and business leaders, the International Council for Small Business is committed to promoting the growth and development of small businesses worldwide the same way AACSB delivers on its mission to foster engagement, accelerate innovation, and amplify impact in business education. There is much more work to be done, and our collaboration strives to support business leaders and learners in catalyzing real change.
New businesses are born from entrepreneurial endeavors and comprise a significant portion of our economy. A vast majority of the employers in the United States are small businesses, creating more employment opportunities with the potential to positively impact our diverse populations. The US Small Business Administration reports there are 32.5 million small businesses in the US, which accounts for nearly 99% of all US businesses. However, the survival rates of new businesses are low, potentially signaling a gap between the entrepreneurial spirit and the business acumen required for success.
Between 1994-2019 an average of 67% of new employer establishments survived at least two years, with rates steadily declining five and ten years later. And while there’s no single reason why a small business or start up may fail, the inability to raise new capital, lack of market need, increased competition, flawed business models, and regulatory challenges (among many others) are key contributing factors to success.
Traditional models of business education, particularly in the context of entrepreneurship, are being reimagined through creative combinations of traditional degrees, fast-track programs, certifications, and microcredentials designed to provide the foundational knowledge required to lead a business. Business schools are well positioned to develop entrepreneurs and small business leaders by instilling an innovative mindset that supports local and global economies and creates a positive impact on society. One notable example is the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business’s Ascend Network for Small Businesses, which provides targeted programs in 12 cities nationwide to drive the growth of wealth generating businesses owned by people of color. Programs enhance access to management skills development, markets through supply chain partnerships, and money through loans and investments. Over the past five years, the program has helped more than 200 businesses raise $23.7 million in capital, generate $360 million in revenue, and create 2,615 jobs. Last year alone (during the pandemic) the network helped companies in seven cities generate $85 million in new revenue.
AACSB is also compelled to create impact within the entrepreneurial revolution by reevaluating the leadership traits our world now demands. This action begins with the AACSB Collective—a group of stakeholders from diverse business schools, businesses, nonprofits, government, and learners focused on defining the knowledge, skills, and behaviors required to inspire change and make an impact. This work will lead to a new business philosophy and intellectual framework for leadership to guide business schools in developing transformative leaders who can succeed within business models focused on sustainability and purpose. So far, the work of the Accelerator revealed three key competencies required for societal impact leaders: compassion, depolarization, and paradox. And regardless of whether a leader defines themselves as an entrepreneur, these skills, and many others, must be nurtured through the pursuit of lifelong learning.
The entrepreneurial revolution belongs to us all, impacts us all, and calls on us all to prepare the transformative leaders of tomorrow who will create a positive impact on society. Each of us is responsible for leveraging the power of education to develop innovative approaches, business acumen, and purpose driven mindset that fuel the entrepreneurial revolution and reshape our world. Anyone can start a movement—or support it—and we need revolutionary thinking from everyone to enhance our quality of life and the way we connect with each other.