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Instructor Urges Students in Introduction to Entrepreneurship Class to Invest in the 'Business of You'

Steve LanivichSteve Lanivich

The common image of a student entrepreneur is one of a future business tycoon, attending school to get the skills and make the contacts he or she needs to start businesses and become multimillionaires.

Stephen Lanivich, assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship at Old Dominion University, has a far broader vision. Lanivich developed and is teaching Introduction to Entrepreneurship (ETNR 201), a first- or second-year class available to any ODU student. He said first and foremost, entrepreneurs invest in themselves.

"You are in the business of you for the rest of your life," said Lanivich, who came to ODU in 2012 to teach entrepreneurship.

Lanivich said for that reason the course, offered for the first time this fall, is valuable for someone in the sciences, or the arts, or any field where the organization and outside-the-box thinking can help turn good ideas into tangible results.

"We want to be the type of school where students can learn how to make their own career, not just prepare to find one. If you never knew you could do these things, how would you know to try?" said Lanivich who entered academia after starting three successful businesses in his native Michigan.

The university-wide course is being offered in connection with Old Dominion University's entrepreneurial initiative. While an entrepreneurial spirit has been connected with ODU since its founding in 1930, the donation of $11 million by the Strome Family Foundation, led by Mark and Tammy Strome, aims to help with the creation of an entrepreneurial ecosystem throughout the university.

The initiative includes the opening of the Strome Entrepreneurial Center this fall.

Jim Lant, interim director of ODU's Strome Entrepreneurial Center, said students and the university will benefit tremendously from Lanivich's combination of entrepreneurial experience and academic background.

"He is truly a 'been there, done that' business professional who is also expert in the academic side of entrepreneurship. I am certain the students in his class will complete the course with their own insights on how entrepreneurship might work for them," Lant said.

In addition to entrepreneurial skills, one of the main things Lanivich wants to instill in the students in Introduction to Entrepreneurship is self-belief.

"What we don't do enough is let our students know that even if they go into employment for someone else, they can still act like an entrepreneur," he said. "The gap between controlling your own career and someone else controlling it for you is not that large.

"You have control over the choices you are making. Helping people see that they are creating the viable 'business of you' is what this course is all about."