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Entrepreneurship Education: Youth Entrepreneurship Course

Posted on Wednesday, Jan 12th 2011

As a follow-up to my previous post, The Time Has Come For The College Entrepreneur, a question that begs to be answered is: What is the composition of a youth entrepreneurship course? What are the assumptions that need to be made about what students know?

Of course, one of the assumptions needs to be that the student has no business background or business training. Typically, they come from other streams of study and need to take entrepreneurship as a supplemental course.

In addition, give the job prospects, we have to also keep in mind the cost of education. It’s not reasonable to expect a large number of our unemployed youth to go to expensive business school programs and be saddled with large debt burdens. Entrepreneurship education needs to be imparted quickly, efficiently, and at a minimum cost. Ideally, it’s on a live project – a company – a venture – that the student has already started tinkering with.

I have tried to keep these criteria in mind as I have designed the One Million by One Million (1M/1M) program.

I am also curious to hear from educators at high schools and colleges who are coaching and mentoring students facing this deep recession on what, if anything, you are doing to steer them toward entrepreneurship.

This segment is a part in the series : Entrepreneurship Education

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I am working with an entrepreneurship program at Stafford high school in Stafford Kansas. Stafford Kansas is a very small rural community, in fact there are only 70 students in the high school. Almost 20 students are involved in the entrepreneurship program. The students are actually starting, and running a business.

Their issues are a bit different than in urban communities. While they have seen the same economic issues as urban districts, it is imperative for our rural communities to increase the number of businesses in their communities if they are to survive.

It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for rural communities to attract businesses. But if just one student each year stays in their rural community and starts a business it will have a tremendous impact on those rural communities over a ten-year period.

A challenge for these students is expanding the market for their business beyond their own geographic area. This turns out to be a tremendous benefit to the students because they learn to use 21st-century marketing and tools to spread the word about their products and services.

Steve Wyckoff Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 9:59 AM PT

What kinds of businesses are the students in your entrepreneurship program at Stafford starting, Steve? Can you please elaborate?

Sramana Mitra Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 10:29 AM PT

Indeed. And I would submit that, considering the new forms and types of businesses that individuals today can start, given the incredible array of tools now available, that even the approach to "teaching" entrepreneurship should be different: less focused on students lodged firmly in traditional schools/universities (though that should certainly still be there), and more about reaching the vast of numbers of youth for whom school is a marginal interest but who still may have the talent/interest/need to create their own careers and vocation.

Richard Lum Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 11:39 AM PT

Right, less focused on venture capital, more on bootstrapping.

Sramana Mitra Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 12:56 PM PT

[…] And a second, to educators, teachers, and mentors in various schools, colleges, and universities who are preparing the youth to face a depressing job market, asking whether they are steering them towards entrepreneurship, and how. […]

Strategy Roundtable For Entrepreneurs: Top 10 Online Advertising Trends For The Decade | The best Tutorials Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 4:47 PM PT

[…] And a second, to educators, teachers, and mentors in various schools, colleges, and universities who are preparing the youth to face a depressing job market, asking whether they are steering them towards entrepreneurship, and how. […]

1M/1M Strategy Roundtable For Entrepreneurs: Top 10 Online Advertising Trends For The Decade | How to Business Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 6:19 PM PT

I keep seeing companies raising tons of money for platforms that make a big difference in the in helping youth participate in entrepreneurship. I've been working on several platforms, but when it comes time to marketing them and raising capital I fail. I guess Joe (a VC) summed it up well in his "are you VC or entrepreneur" article: . Its just frustrating for me to watch this. How can I raise money for apps?

thisblogon Friday, January 14, 2011 at 8:49 AM PT

Hard to answer your question without more details. Please feel free to pitch at one of the 1M/1M roundtables.

Sramana Mitra Friday, January 14, 2011 at 8:53 AM PT

A wonderful idea! I teach a short intro to entrepreneurship course for our local Youth Conservation Corps to older teens and 20 somethings. I use Get a head for Business curriculum developed by Young Americans for Financial Education, a nonprofit. It is offered free and is very interactive-what students today learn best from. I design my own lesson plans and am credentialed to teach business with Colorado Dept of Ed and community college system. I love it!

Tinker Barnett Saturday, January 15, 2011 at 8:45 PM PT

I too agree that the entrepreneurial education should start earlier in the curriculum probably in the middle school itself but it should be on a gradient and must be localized. Entrepreneurship opportunities are ever-present in all parts of the globe but many will need formal training and help to realize it.

I would also argue that adding a curriculum on entrepreneurship will increase the chances of many students staying school once they realize that what they learn in school is indeed practical and will provide a way to sustain themselves and others.

Dr. MP Divakar

docdivakar Monday, January 17, 2011 at 9:06 AM PT

I have been involved in a few entrepreneurial initiatives at local colleges in my city. Biggest challenge is changing the "status quo" especially when it comes to advocating more experiential types of curriculum.

This past weekend I helped organized a Startup Weekend. We had several students attend. Amazing event on several levels.

As you consider entrepreneurial education I feel you should look to programs like this as the basis of the framework.

John Rumery Monday, January 17, 2011 at 11:47 PM PT


I believe youth entrepreneurship starts with a mindset, and the earlier you influence this mindset, the better. Parents play a key role in developing this mindset, so they need to be educated along with their children. Parents tend to believe the myths about college education = well-paying jobs and children are too young to 'worry' about making money. For the last five years, (over ten years with my own children) I have taught youth entrepreneurship classes to students ages 6 to 18. I believe the younger the student the better in helping them start businesses. In every class I taught, each student had a business by the end of the course. Our goal was to create real, viable businesses. Not only did the student experience success through our Entrepreneurship Expos, but it forced them to 'just do it' and not be bogged down by perfectionism or procrastination.
IF a child experiences success early on, it is easier for them to take calculated risks in the future. Also, it gives them a reason for the 3 R's, along with many more reasons I don't have time to list here.

janita pavelka Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 7:19 AM PT

I have done planning to do just what you are talking about having done. The time is upon me to begin making contacts that could bring some aspects to fruition. I would very much like to connect for further details at the earliest.

(I know you don't want matters going off-line Sramana, but how do you accommodate a genuine need for developing ongoing communication?)

Here are just some of my many questions: Are you in a metro area, a regional center or a smaller rural community? Where have you taught these classes? (State/Province/Country) What is your business model – are you volunteering your time and where are the resources coming from to cover miscellaneous expenses? With the breadth of ages you reference, how are you structuring the classes? What is the venue for the classes? If it is the school system, how are you interfacing with the classroom teachers and the school districts?

I look forward, very much, to your response.

Lois E. Josefson Sunday, May 8, 2011 at 5:13 PM PT

Dear Janita, I was moved when I watched your webpage. This is great what you are doing with your kids. Funny, that on the other end of the Earth, in Poland I came to the same conclusions as you did and I am just starting same things with my kids. Seems they are a bit older that yours (12 and 14) but all the thinking behind is in 100% the same. The kids will never have a chance to be enterpreneurs if they do not 'sink' in it when they are kids. This id why I left 'safe' corporate position and stared my own business, look ate it at (everything unfortunately in polish). Currnently I am evaluating our new business which will be enterprenurship academy for kids and their parents. This completely wild and 'virign' area in my country, I do not know how to start. I would be grateful if you could share some of your ideas or vice versa, I would share my and wait for you comments,. Please answer, kind regards Leszek

Leszek Frankiewicz Tuesday, September 13, 2011 at 1:21 PM PT