Why is entrepreneurship so important? Why is it such a hot topic in news outlets, campuses, online, and at local meetings?
It is hope. It is the ability to identify problems and solve them. It is freedom to push boundaries and explore wild new ideas. It is also a highly marketable skill-set that is becoming increasingly sought after by companies that rely on innovative thinking for survival in a fiercely competitive global economy. One way or another, entrepreneurs and innovators are constantly shaping the world we live in.
So, when should we start grooming the next generation of entrepreneurs?
The migration of entrepreneurship into the college curriculum is well underway. According to the Kauffman Foundation's recent report, there are now more than 5,000 entrepreneurship-related courses being offered in two-year and four-year institutions. By comparison, in 1985 there were 250. This has, and will continue, to have a profound impact on our innovation capabilities as youthful imaginations push boundaries amidst rapidly advancing technological capabilities. But why stop at the college level? Can we start younger? Should we? Yes and yes!
High School is the next frontier for entrepreneurship!
High school is a time of feeling invincible. It's a time when you are determined to try new things and prove to yourself, and others, your rightful place in this world. What better time to teach one how to take the first step towards pursuing their passion? As human beings, our imagination is our most valuable asset and creativity is the purest currency of all. Instilling confidence, supplying mentorship and support and arming young minds with the wisdom of validated learning, are the greatest tools we, as a society, can pass along to future generations. These intangible gifts unlock a plethora of opportunity for anyone, from anywhere!
That sounds great... but can it be done? There is a lot of proof out there. Check out this recent article from the National Journal which tells some heartwarming tales of high school students that used entrepreneurship lessons to stay engaged, and go on to college.
The benefits of teaching entrepreneurship at this level have been proven effective by multiple organizations, including Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship. High school dropout rates for students from low-income high schools who took NFTE developmental courses were 1 percent compared to the national average of 3.4 percent.
Another exciting development that we have recently become engaged with is Entrepreneurial Idol, an innovation contest that takes corporate, education and local government challenges and connects them with entrepreneurial answers. Modeled after the pop culture television phenomenon, this program challenges teams of high school seniors to tackle real-world problems by giving them a forum to compete for prizes and recognition.
Invest early. Invest often.
Entrepreneurs, like a fine wine, get better with age. They require a buy and hold approach but they have the potential to generate enormous rewards. Like spring flowers, they spread spore into the breeze and turn plain fields into valleys of breathtaking beauty. Having more of them only makes the world more vibrant! There really is no greater sense of adventure or accomplishment than creating something that improves the lives of others. What better way to experience, and not waste, the gift of life?
On second thought, maybe we should start even sooner.
What do you think?