Entrepreneurship Education: Building a Generation of Leaders

Posted by | February 14, 2013

Some people will argue that entrepreneurship can’t be taught. They’ll say it’s either in the bloodstream or it isn’t. But they’re mistaken. Entrepreneurship can most definitely be taught, and when it is, it opens students’ eyes to new opportunities.

In fact, entrepreneurship education is changing school for the better, adding leadership training to the skills and knowledge that students typically get in classrooms. Most students learn how to go to work for a company. Through entrepreneurship education, students learn to see themselves as creators and innovators who can build their own companies and ideas.

Entrepreneurship education teaches students the building blocks of starting a business by focusing on three major principles:

Entrepreneurs know what they want. Successful entrepreneurs have an intense focus. Steve Jobs, for example, wouldn’t settle for creating great products. He wanted to create the most awesome products, and his focus on design and technology changed the way we interact with the world around us. As our students develop their own business plans, we teach them to figure out how they’re going to meet their objectives so they can best focus their efforts.

Entrepreneurs love what they do. Without passion for an idea, entrepreneurs will never put themselves in a position where they’re constantly evolving. And that evolution is what allows entrepreneurs to find their next opportunity. The only way to evolve is to be absolutely clear about what you’re doing and why you love it. So we help encourage our students’ dreams. Most students already have a passion and just need positive feedback and support as they turn that enthusiasm into a business plan.

Entrepreneurs know how to find like-minded people. Entrepreneurs, including social entrepreneurs, need to pick people who are just as focused and passionate as they are—an invaluable lesson that we have learned from Peter Boni, who is the founder of NFTE Philadelphia and now a member of the national board of NFTE. Of course no one can be successful at picking the right people all the time, but if your goals are clear and you love what you do, you’ll likely pick the right person most of the time. We teach our students how to build effective teams through communication and networking skills that will help them find right team when they need it.

We teach these skills in middle and high schools through the experience and passion of our team of volunteers. We have teachers who have climbed the corporate ladder at major companies before realizing they really wanted to own their own business. We have teachers who never entered corporate America because they were creating their own jobs at their own companies. Our students have a wonderful advantage because they’re exposed to this variety of entrepreneurs who work at the forefront of where business is going.

That experience and passion can help young entrepreneurs discover their focus, build enthusiasm, and help them recognize those traits in others. By the time they’re ready to start their own businesses, our students will have developed all the skills they’ll need to be successful business leaders, but they’ll also have the confidence to apply those skills and pursue their dreams.

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