“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” - Peter Drucker, educator and author
Today’s students aren’t interested in landing the best jobs - they’re creating them. In fact, a 2011 Gallup Student Poll shows that many children ages 5-12 have entrepreneurial aspirations. Based on the poll results (of nearly 2,000 students):
- 77% of students want to be their own boss
- Nearly half of students (45%) plan to start their own business
- 42% believe they will invent something that changes the world
From 13-year-old Mikaila Ulmer (creator of Me & the Bees Lemonade) to 14-year-old Michael Wahba (creator of one of the best electric skateboards in the market), there are numerous examples of kids bringing their ideas to life - and finding success. And in the age of social media, students have the tools and know-how to market themselves in a way that wasn’t possible only a few short years ago.
In recent years, entrepreneurship has evolved as a viable and rewarding career for many people. And it’s a path many of your students may choose to take. However, running your own business is no easy feat. And while you may need specific knowledge and abilities (hard skills) to become an entrepreneur, there are several soft skills you’ll need to be successful. Below are 5 skills that every future entrepreneur should develop to succeed in work and life:
Relationship-building is key in entrepreneurship. And empathy plays an important role in helping business owners build meaningful relationships with their customers and understand their needs to create a product that people will buy.
To help students develop empathy, focus on boosting their emotional intelligence. Through service learning, journaling, games and other resources, you can help them develop a deeper understanding of themselves and the people around them - which is essential to entrepreneurial success.
Life as an entrepreneur is unpredictable. You can lose a key client, win a big contract, receive poor customer feedback or run into major issues with your product or service. Whatever the situation, you must be able to adapt to both the challenges and successes in order to keep your business running smoothly.
Teaching adaptability not only prepares students for entrepreneurship and other emerging careers. But adaptable students are also more likely to participate in class, enjoy school, have a higher self-esteem and be more satisfied with life. Below are a few quick tips for promoting adaptability from a recent post, Adaptability: 5 Strategies to Teach this Skill of the Future:
- Focus on interdisciplinary learning
- Teach resilience
- Promote self-regulation
- Prevent the fear of failure
- Encourage continuous learning
Perseverance, or grit, is the key to staying committed when faced with difficulties. And entrepreneurs are sure to experience ‘bumps in the road’ when running their own business.
Teaching perseverance early on can help students develop grit and a growth mindset, allowing them to cope with failure and accomplish their goals despite any challenges. This is beneficial for budding entrepreneurs, but it’s also been used to predict students’ academic achievement and future success.
More often than not, entrepreneurs bootstrap their business, or use their own resources to finance the start of their business. In this case, it’s important to optimize what you have available to create a solution. Or in other words, be resourceful.
One way to teach resourcefulness in the learning environment is through project-based learning (PBL). PBL encourages students to act independently, collaborate with peers, think critically to solve problems and use tools like technology to complete their projects. As a result, students learn to use the resources they have on hand - available skills, tools and materials - to achieve their goal.
Success doesn’t happen overnight, and this is true for many entrepreneurs. Achieving business success requires commitment, discipline and, most importantly, laser focus on your goals.
Goal-setting is an effective way to teach students the importance of long-term focus. Have students set a long-term goal (the actual time frame should vary based on their ages). It can be anything from learning to tie a shoe to getting a perfect score on a spelling test. As they work toward their goal, they will learn to plan, prioritize and stay motivated along the way. This goal-setting process helps to build their focus, which is beneficial for all students, especially future entrepreneurs.
Many kids today have set their sights on becoming entrepreneurs in the future. You can prepare them early on by teaching them invaluable soft skills that will help them grow their business and be successful. For more information, check out 6 Resources to Foster Entrepreneurial Thinking in Students.