If establishing a business, investing in a startup, or finding the best solution to solving a problem excites one’s soul, then majoring in entrepreneurship at Wittenberg might prove the best path. The only baccalaureate arts and science-classified college in Ohio offering a major in entrepreneurship, Wittenberg provides future entrepreneurs with a robust selection of courses for success - from accounting and statistics to leadership and management.
The processes learned in the curriculum help students in all areas of work, and are not limited to building a business. Solving problems, working well with others, understanding the management of people, and building out a target market all help students in for-profit, not-for-profit, or entrepreneurial endeavors.
“The skills learned in this major aren't just for those who want to start their own business,” said Kevin Steidel, assistant professor of practice and Robert E. Ness Chair of Entrepreneurship, who after seven years of working for others in a variety of positions, decided to go it alone, opening the first of four of his own businesses in 2008. He currently owns his own concessions business while teaching at Wittenberg.
“We concentrate on thinking creatively, solving problems, and being original,” he continued. “These skills will serve anyone well in any career field. We also focus on being super-passionate about what you choose to do/invest your time in. You won't become CEO of a major investment bank without these skills, passion for investments or loan rates, or leadership skills for others. You just won't be. If you love fishing and all you think about is fishing while you are the low-level bank manager, you will suffer from hating your job and wanting to go fishing. I say start a company that surrounds fishing. The possibilities are endless.”
Jack Siefert, Wittenberg class of 2021 from Cleveland, Ohio, is majoring in entrepreneurship with a minor in sport management. A member of the Tiger baseball team, he is on the board of directors serving as the director of development for the 501(c)(3) organization My Inner Warrior Foundation (MIW) started by teammate Jack Hollinshead. MIW’s goal is to provide a year-long training program to extend the current inner-city baseball programs providing greater opportunities to youth.
“I chose to major in entrepreneurship because I have always dreamed of owning my own business,” said Siefert, also a member of Communication and Business Leadership Experience (CABLE) and a faculty aide for Steidel. “I grew up in a household with my dad being a business owner and my mom being the lead of an aluminum-can supply chain. They have had an influence on my career aspirations, and I hope to one day work in the sports agency or auto industry in which I run my day-to-day life on an ever-changing schedule. I have been a member of MIW for four years now, and it’s been a life-changing organization for me, opening my eyes to so much.”
Entrepreneurship majors are encouraged to take courses in technology to ensure relevance, theory to understand leadership, and core business principles to help them run an organization. Additionally, the major will give students a creative and idea-focused edge that will become useful in all areas of life.
“It has never been easier to start your own business,” Steidel said. “Communication between customer and designer, access to the Internet and mobile stores, as well as the ability to communicate across the globe have allowed entrepreneurs to do things never dreamed of even 15 years ago. The knowledge is there for those that want it.”
Rachel Wilson, associate professor of business and chair of the department, recently researched on the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and found that there are only seven Carnegie classified institutions of “Baccalaureate Colleges: Arts & Sciences Focus” in Ohio, four of which have economics and/or some form of financial economics, business economics, or global commerce as majors. A few have a minor in entrepreneurship, but only Wittenberg has a major in entrepreneurship. Common entrepreneurship-related job titles include business development, business owner, consultant, director of operations, general manager, project manager, and supply chain manager.
“I believe it is becoming a popular major because it is the Swiss Army knife of business majors,” Siefert said. “With an entrepreneurship degree you are exposed to various different fields, you learn how people in marketing accounting and management think, and you surround yourself with people who tend to be extremely motivated. This has been incredibly important to me because I have been able to collaborate with people who offer incredible feedback on business ideas that I would never be able to do on my own.
“I believe it takes motivation and great listening skills to be an entrepreneur,” he added. “If you are not motivated and passionate about your own idea and becoming an entrepreneur, your journey will end before it even begins in my opinion. Also, you need to be a good listener. The industry is so much about what others’ needs are and if you don’t listen and adapt to those needs, your success will be capped. However, if you listen to customers and fellow entrepreneurs, there is always room to grow and the ability to make life easier or provide a product that people desire. If you major in entrepreneurship, you have the opportunity to bring an idea you’re passionate about to the table. You don’t have to be afraid of being judged because your off-the-wall idea could be the next greatest thing or something that others have thought of in the past.”
At Wittenberg, students also have the opportunity to pitch their ideas at the annual Tiger Tank event, Wittenberg’s version of the popular Shark Tank program hosted by the department of business. Recently, five Wittenberg students and one local high school student from the Global Impact STEM Academy (GISA) had the chance to win more than $25,000 worth of business assistance at Tiger Tank 2020. Each year Wittenberg alumni come back to judge the event. Wittenberg entrepreneurship graduates are now working at such organizations as Cardinal Health, Ernst & Young, L Brands (Limited), Perio Inc. (Barbasol Brands), Ryder System Inc., SEKO Logistics, and TEKSystems, among others.