Teaching Life Skills through Entrepreneurship
How do we best prepare kids to be adults? Is it by teaching them how to be great employees? How about being great and kind people? Surely we must teach them to be disciplined, responsible, motivated and to carefully consider and plan their futures. How about all of these? Entrepreneurship is a renaissance subject that requires all of these abilities, and more.
Why don’t we get right to the point and prepare them in the best way possible. It is no secret that major life skills are not being taught in schools. Measurable academic progress in traditional subjects is mandated so that’s what we must test and assess. We get it, but we can do better. At Next Step Ed, we’re not about waiting for change, we want to make it happen. One school at a time, one student at a time if that’s what it takes.
So here’s what I’m proposing: An after school course in Entrepreneurship, teaching life skills through the lens of starting your own business. Middle school and High school levels.
Here’s why: Being an entrepreneur takes a lot of different skills, but first and foremost it takes resourcefulness. The first thing you have to ask yourself, is what resources are available to me? What skills do I have? How can I turn those skills and resources into the absolute best service to this market? This is the starting point I would take in my class, with the ending point is being the best that you can be. To make it on your own means to venture out and explore, to be bold where you are strong and to see where you are blind. It means setting out to find your niche, discovering where your unique blend of talents is needed. Often, this is where you best serve your community. That’s where we should start.
Once we get past the personal assessment, we move on to building practical, employable skills such as keeping a budget, understanding business models, competitive advantage, and customer feedback. Students will be expected to set up a business plan based around their own skills and interests, then researching the companies, markets, and products that are actually out there. I wish I had a program like this before I made my college decisions.
Real, Feasible, Business Plans
At the close of a session, I want my students to have an actual, feasible business plan that they can launch as they go into summer break. Why not? What could motivate kids more than a chance to make actual money? Sure, we don’t want our kids to be bent on making money too early, but there is a lesson in trying. They will learn quickly that doing something just for the money alone is generally not a great reason to do that thing. To be engaged and successful in entrepreneurship, you must be doing something that resonates with who you are.
There are thousands of business plans you could start with $100 or less. Motivated kids are smart, creative, and willing to get out there and try out ideas. What better experience could they have than starting a real business? Whether they make a little bit of money or see their plans come up short, they will learn a great deal about themselves and the world they live in. They will find inspiration and abundance in the most unexpected places, and find great lessons in failure, two of the greatest lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs.
So, I have found national and local groups that have aligned for this cause, such as the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), but I do not see local chapters in my new city, Nashville, TN. I’d like to reach out to individuals and groups interested in joining this cause. Next Step Ed has thus far been centered around music education, but this is a time of change. I feel called to venture out and teach this passion of mine to the underserved students here in Music City.
Who can help?
Really anyone, but especially community leaders and families that see the value in teaching these skills. School administrators willing to host these programs, parents that want to see this offered to their kids. Entrepreneurs and business owners could serve as a source of inspiration and guidance to these kids. Anyone and everyone that can donate funds to help implement these classes. Next Step Ed. is a 501c3 non-profit organization and will gratefully accept donations toward creating conscious, engaging educational programs that empower teachers to mentor students to the absolute limit of their capacities.