From Google and Microsoft all the way to the White House, America has seen a surge of initiatives to encourage the prioritization of science, technology, engineering, and mathematical (STEM) education in classrooms across the country. And while introducing and encouraging the principles of STEM is key for young students who want to succeed in math and science-based careers, these same principles can be equally as helpful for those who aspire to create and build their own business.
“If you want to be an entrepreneur, you have to have more than a great idea,” says Kevin Mulleady, a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist. “You must be agile – the world of business is a dynamic environment. There are a multitude of problems just waiting for solutions, so critically thinking is paramount to your success as an entrepreneur.”
Engineering Teaches You to Tinker – A Necessary Entrepreneurial Skill Says Kevin Mulleady
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that many entrepreneurs begin as engineers. Harley Davidson, Apple – some of the biggest brand names in the world exist because some kid couldn’t quit tinkering with an idea. This act of purposeful, practical play is one way I fell in love with the beauty of how systems work. You recognize the uniqueness of the individual parts and realize the significance of how they come together to ultimately function as a whole. This taught me to appreciate the efforts and ingenuity that go into making such systems work,” says Kevin Mulleady.
Engineering fostered curiosity, creativity, critical thinking, and innovation in Kevin. These traits are essential to becoming a successful entrepreneur. “Understanding how systems need to be supported in order to function effectively and efficiently gives one a clearer view of how to build their business from the ground up,” he says.
Engineering Encourages Collaboration Explains Kevin Mulleady
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This statement, first coined by the notable philosopher, Aristotle, describes the very essence of synergy,” explains Kevin Mulleady. “When one truly has this combined effort, be it in many forms, and embraces it, they will quickly realize how much can be accomplished as a team.”
Kevin continues, “Entrepreneurs have to learn to lay a foundation for their teams to build on – a common purpose and starting place. For engineers, it can be the basic principles of testability, maintainability, and structural integrity. For your business team, it may be a shared vision or your company culture. You have to provide them with a strong cornerstone or they will not know in which direction to build.”
Engineering Teaches You to be Inquisitive and Resilient Says Kevin Mulleady
“Engineering has definitely helped prepare me for being an entrepreneur,” says Kevin Mulleady. “The great thing about the sciences is that they teach you to ask questions, inadvertently showing you how trial and error is all part of the process. You must experiment to learn.”
Kevin quotes Edison’s response to a reporter who asked the inventor how it felt to fail at inventing the lightbulb 1,000 times. “He responded, ‘I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The lightbulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.’ That’s the kind of mindset you need to have as an entrepreneur. Embrace adversity and you can conquer any setback. The people who succeed are, without exception, the ones who refuse to quit.”