“The important thing is not being afraid to take a chance. Remember, the greatest failure is to not try. Once you find something you love to do, be the best at doing it.”
~Debbi Fields, founder of Mrs. Fields Cookies
5 Reasons Entrepreneurship Should Be Part of Every Education
One of the best parts of speaking at many homeschool conferences across the country is getting acquainted with the issues that are top-of-the-mind for homeschoolers in different areas. This year, there seemed to be an interesting shift in focus. People were still stopping by to talk about Excellence in Literature, teaching writing, and creating transcripts, but there was also a new urgency of interest in things that could save or make money, such as getting a jump start on college or starting a microbusiness.
The past few years have been an economic challenge for most single-income families, but many have risen to the challenge and are doing constructive things to counteract decreased income. Over and over I heard inspiring stories of parents or teens who are moonlighting or running a microbusiness in their spare time. At the AFHE conference in Arizona, I enjoyed seeing an entire row of Young Entrepreneur exhibits, manned by remarkably professional-sounding young people who had not only learned how to create something useful, but also how to present themselves and market their product.
I believe that entrepreneurship should be part of every education. Creating a small business does more than just provide a bit of extra money — it provides learning opportunities that nothing else can. Here are five reasons it’s important to learn the kind of attitudes, skills, and habits that characterize successful entrepreneurs.
Mindset: Andrew Pudewa coined the term freedomship, and although it’s not found in any dictionary (yet), it encompasses some of the most compelling reasons for learning and teaching business skills. We live in a society that teaches passivity, rather than active exploration and initiative. Conformity, along with its Siamese twin mediocrity is one of the primary lessons taught by schools, government, the media, and the workplace.
For most people, it’s not easy to be different. Homeschoolers have an advantage, though, as we’ve already chosen an alternative approach to education and bypassed the all-too-human compulsion to be like everyone else. It’s already too late. Entrepreneurial training takes this a step farther by teaching students how to act with freedom, integrity, and purpose in their work life.
Flexibility and Preparedness: Our nation was built on a foundation of courage and independence, but modern influences continue to erode personal responsibility and initiative. Entrepreneurial education provides a way for anyone of any age or financial condition to be better prepared to independently generate personal income. Business transitions are a fact of life. Factories close or automate, corporations merge and shift focus. It’s critical to be prepared to observe trends and be ready and able to move into another field or to supplement income with a microbusiness.
Basic business training helps workers understand coming changes and take appropriate action. For example, if you work for an automobile or furniture assembly line and begin to hear rumors that the factory will soon close, that’s the time to start planning an exit. It’s not only stressful, but also financially suicidal to wait until the formal announcement is made and all your co-workers are also looking for options. If you understand how to start and run a microbusiness, you can quickly begin moonlighting in a venture of your own, and have a head start when the axe falls.
Learning: Creating a business of any kind, a full-scale brick-and-mortar business or a tiny internet-based microbusiness, provides a lot more front line learning than any theory-based business class. Teens who choose run a business rather than flip burgers for the summer learn not only the service or product they are selling, but they also learn about business structures, bookkeeping, customer service, marketing, creative problem solving, real-world communication, and much more. Real bookkeeping for a small business is a lot more memorable than exercises from a consumer math textbook. Best of all, the skills and knowledge gained can be applied to many other parts of life.
High-School Transcript: A small business is a great addition to a high-school transcript. Whether a teen is bound for college, trade school, the military, or is planning to build his or her business into a full-time career, entrepreneurship demonstrates initiative, hard work, creativity, perseverance, and other valuable skills and character traits. It’s likely that you’ll be able to grant credit for many of the business functions (bookkeeping, salesmanship, web design basics, etc.) your student learns as her or she builds a business.
Fun: Finally, entrepreneurship is just plain fun. It empowers individuals– moms, dads, teens, pre-teens– to create something of value and share it with others in a profitable way. A young person who starts a microbusiness gains a lot more than spending money. He or she gains confidence, valuable experience, and a host of new skills that can be used for life.