America remains a beacon of entrepreneurship. Founded and then settled by innovators and risk-takers who were willing to sacrifice old certainties for new opportunities, America’s infatuation with entrepreneurship has deepened in the recent economic crisis. The number of entrepreneurs is growing with an average of 550,000 businesses created every month.
While our children are raised on stories about inventors such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison, a poll by Gallup-HOPE illustrates that high school students may be getting a slow start. Many students in the U.S. have entrepreneurial aspirations and energy that could help drive future job creation in the country. But just half of students say that their school offers entrepreneurial classes; far fewer report getting the type of practical knowledge and experiences that will be useful once they are in the workforce.
Although students may possess good ideas about the future, focused efforts to transform these aspirations into reality are not as strong as they could be. Developing entrepreneurial attitude and experience of young people is critical to help them grow up to be productive workers who ultimately help to create jobs.
Majority of students demonstrate persistence and are willing to assume risk – both of which are typical attributes of entrepreneurs. Despite their energy and ambitions, they are not getting the education and work experience they need to help achieve their goals. Affiliation of economic development resources to entrepreneurship-education can help these young people pursue their dreams and, in turn, revitalize, grow and diversify their local economies.
Teaching kids the basics of business and discussing the opportunity on how to make money gets them engaged. Using highly experiential and game-based approach can make the business curriculum more engaging academically. The students can develop a business plan; thus they start to see the opportunities of entrepreneurship.
According to an article in Business Week ‘Cultivating Entrepreneurs During High School’, students who complete an entrepreneurship course in high school, maintain businesses at substantially higher rates than their peers and have a greater interest in attending college. In America—a country that was founded on the backs of small businessmen—there’s an acceptance of the importance of this curriculum, but it’s never been systematically integrated into our schools.
Some key elements in developing and nurturing young entrepreneurs:
Interactive Entrepreneurship Education
Successful young entrepreneurship programs are built on a foundation of quality curriculum taught by teachers who engage students in the discovery and development of their entrepreneurial talents. Interactive curriculum and engaging teachers who make the material come to life are key ingredients in successful entrepreneurship programs. Incorporating entrepreneurship into an existing class such as Accounting, Industrial Arts or Consumer Science using game-based simulation is a solution to this constraint.
Supportive Community Environment
Many entrepreneurial youth express frustration that focus is only on exceptional students and star athletes. The community working in tandem with the schools can transform the town into a “learning laboratory” where students can practice the knowledge they are gaining in the classroom. Students can work in apprenticeships, selling products at school events or farmers markets, interviewing local entrepreneurs or carry out an entrepreneurial community project.
Creating a place for young entrepreneurs to gather and interact, they can feed off each other’s energy and create even better ideas and inventions. This space may be a garage, workroom or basement. Just provide the space, welcome young people, let them innovate and have fun.
Pathways from Education to Opportunity
There needs to be deliberate effort to help young people clarify their business interests, to direct them to opportunities that fit their passions and abilities, and to stay with them as their enterprises develop. Youth entrepreneurship requires a sustained effort, especially in this challenging economic climate where much of the attention is focused on immediate job creation.
While a great idea or product can propel entrepreneurship, it is a well-known fact that ninety-five per cent of businesses fail with the first five years of inception. If you catch a failure early, it’s much less likely to cause detrimental and irreversible damage Most businesses fail due to their having been founded by inexperienced overly-enthused entrepreneurs. Teaching basic entrepreneurial skills at the school can build a pipeline of business builders who will help their local communities thrive into the future.