To Be or Not To Be An Entrepreneur

By Chris Everett

Chris Everett

It is interesting that in today’s society we have significantly elevated the idealism of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial capacities. Ultimately, there seems to be this assumed association between entrepreneurialism and all of the great thinking and doing qualities believed to make a person ready for college and/or a career. We’ve romanticized the idea of being an entrepreneur to such a point that I wonder if it we truly know what it means?

We’ve romanticized the idea of being an entrepreneur to such a point that I wonder if it we truly know what it means? Click To Tweet

What is an entrepreneur?

According to businessdictionary.com, an entrepreneur is “Someone who exercises initiative by organizing a venture to take benefit of an opportunity and, as the decision maker, decides what, how, and how much of a good or service will be produced. An entrepreneur supplies risk capital as a risk taker, and monitors and controls the business activities. The entrepreneur is usually a sole proprietor, a partner, or the one who owns the majority of shares in an incorporated venture.”

Typically, when entrepreneurship is discussed in academic circles, it is with the intention that people who are entrepreneurial are destined to be the owner of a business of some kind, a new high-tech start-up, an online store, something that blends the person’s passion, a desire to help humanity, and ultimately with a focus on profit.

While there certainly are entrepreneurs who fit each and every one of those stereotypes, surely there is a broader application of the general capacities related to entrepreneurialism that don’t necessarily manifest in business ownership. This would have to be the case because it isn’t logical to think that you can only be an entrepreneur or have those capacities if you start or own a business.

If everyone owned the businesses, who would work in them? When we broaden our perspective on what it means to be entrepreneurial, we find significant rationale for wanting and hoping for young people to develop those capacities.

What are the entrepreneurial skills?

The concept of entrepreneurialism can be broken down into a set of interdependent skills and those skills vary depending on who is doing the breaking down.

The concept of entrepreneurialism can be broken down into a set of interdependent skills and those skills vary depending on who is doing the breaking down. Click To Tweet

One such breakdown identified 10 traits that all successful entrepreneurs share:

  • Full of Determination
  • Not Afraid to Take Risks
  • High Level of Confidence
  • Craves Learning
  • Understands Failure is Part of the Game
  • Passionate About His/Her Business
  • Highly Adaptable
  • Good Understanding of Money Management
  • Expert at Networking
  • Ability to Sell and Promote

Now applying these skills/qualities with a broader brush, it is easy to see that they would be absolutely beneficial, regardless of whether or not the individual actually owned the business. These skills would be highly advantageous, regardless of the college or career choice a student might make.

No teacher in a classroom today would say that they wouldn’t be thrilled if their students exhibited these skills while in school. There’s not an employer in the world that wouldn’t highly appreciate and seek to retain an employee who exhibits these traits. These skills can be applied to so many areas of life, but it can’t be assumed that everyone has them naturally.

Even if a person exhibits some or even all of these skills, without the right experiences, the skills won’t be fully developed.

How does someone develop entrepreneurial skills?

Most successful entrepreneurs would probably indicate that many of these skills were learned on the job, as they were building their business. Experience was the teacher and sometimes the lessons were painful and costly. What if students had the opportunity to develop these same skills as a part of their everyday learning experience? This can absolutely be accomplished if those skills are designed for as part of the overall learner experience.

For example, if the skill of understanding failure is something that is desired, then the learner experience has to have opportunities for learners to fail safely, learn from the mistakes that caused the failure, and have the opportunity to go at it again. In many current educational environments, failure and risk are avoided because of draconian and archaic grading policies that don’t allow for the opportunity to truly learn from the failure.

In many current educational environments, failure and risk are avoided because of draconian and archaic grading policies that don’t allow for the opportunity to truly learn from the failure. Click To Tweet

As stated above, all of these desired entrepreneurial skills can be developed if they are designed for as a part of the learner experience.

This is where a Learner Experience Model makes all the difference. A Learner Experience Model is simply a design structure that guides the creation of the learner experience. It’s more than a lesson plan and more than just an instructional model; it is also about more than just the state prescribed standards.

A Learner Experience Model is really about how the learner will engage in the content related to those standards as a part of the learning experience that will truly prepare them for the unpredictable future they will face upon graduation. This experience of learning in school isn’t as painful a teacher if things don’t go as planned or if there’s a mistake that is made along the way. Learner Experience Models take some time to develop, time to train on how to effectively implement, and even more time to coach teachers through the change process as they learn to design and facilitate the experience defined by the model.

This investment of time is returned ten-fold as the quality of the learner experience improves, the traditionally desired student achievement improves, and most importantly the desired skills that truly prepare learners for their future are developed and increased. This return creates future citizens who are prepared with the necessary entrepreneurial capacities that make them true contributors to society, whether they own the business or not.


1 thought on “To Be or Not To Be An Entrepreneur

  1. I love this, Chris! This is my favorite part: “Most successful entrepreneurs would probably indicate that many of these skills were learned on the job, as they were building their business. Experience was the teacher and sometimes the lessons were painful and costly. What if students had the opportunity to develop these same skills as a part of their everyday learning experience? This can absolutely be accomplished if those skills are designed for as part of the overall learner experience.” It’s SO true.

    In my opinion, the entrepreneurial skills I see students lacking in the most are ‘not afraid to take risks’ and ‘highly adaptable’. We are not intentionally and consistently giving students the opportunity to grow these skills, and the high percentage of adults who also fall short, is the evidence.

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