Dr Bryan Mills (18 February 2015)

With a degree in business, a PhD in economics, a postgrad diploma in financial management and a senior fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, along with numerous presentations at conferences, Dr Bryan Mills presented himself as an excellent academic.

After a career in construction, Dr Mills decided to pursue higher education. Whilst this represented a bit of a cultural change he soon realized that most things boiled down to problem solving. Breaking concrete was replaced by breaking theories, forming shuttering by forming models and drain flows by the flows of debate.

Bryan Mills’ talk brought up very interesting points as to how we should define entrepreneurship. He pointed out the differences between ‘business’, ‘enterprising’, ‘entrepreneurism’ and ‘innovation’. Business is just a process. Innovation is a process, structure or product – new but with a purpose. Enterprising means innovative business. Entrepreneurism is commercialization of innovation.

Having spent 10 years arguing about definitions of work-relatedness and enterprise, Dr Mills maintains a position slightly outside the orthodoxy. It starts with cupcakes. He explained the reason why he no longer wants another cupcake was down to the wrong perception of entrepreneurship in the modern-day education system. Encouraging students to make cupcakes and sell them to earn money for charity is just not good business, as Bryan explained (the opportunity cost usually exceeds the profit), and does not teach them entrepreneurism.

From the evening I have learnt a lot and felt more confident with my understanding of entrepreneurism. And, just like Bryan Mills, I will think twice before accepting another charity cupcake.

Based on a report by Troy Vu

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