Learning Entrepreneurship in High School
Your school experience should be much more than the memorization of statistics, facts, and dates. You are at the exact perfect time in your life to learn essential skills to become a successful young entrepreneur. Besides biology and English lit, what other skills can you develop in high school? Which skills will fuel your entrepreneurial journey to the top?
It’s estimated that 85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t been invented yet. For you, this means the chance to completely disrupt the way business is done. You will recreate what “work” and “business” look like so radically that most people can’t even predict what the result will be.
What can you do now to make the most of this unwritten future?
Good news: by reading this blog you are proving yourself ready to go! Another great step is to work on those skills that will be needed the most in the decades to come.
START WHERE YOU ARE
Perhaps you’ve been running your own business since you were 12. You’re already an entrepreneur with a growth mindset and financial know-how. That’s wonderful! Or maybe you have an idea for a business but aren’t sure how to get started. No matter where you are on your young entrepreneurial journey, learning more about entrepreneurship while still in high school will give you that boost you need to go from small business startup to world-class founder and CEO.
We all know the basics of entrepreneurship: running a business. However, being part of Gen-Z means you likely already know that there’s so much more to it than that! Young entrepreneurship, more than ever before, has expanded beyond simply making money for its own sake. There are social aspects to think about, as well as a much larger global economy to consider.
In other words, there’s so much more to entrepreneurship than marketing and accounting. Don’t get us wrong: those are both invaluable skills that everyone, not just entrepreneurs, should be familiar with. But what else is out there for you?
BEYOND THE MONEY
These days companies want more than just a numbers-cruncher or a marketing phenom. They want innovators and disruptors, employees who will smash the status quo and launch the company into the future. You don’t dress or socialize the same way your grandparents did, right? So why would you work the same way they did?
Entrepreneurs in 2030 and beyond will need to be comfortable navigating the unknown, and that means learning how to take risks while you’re young. Disrupting itself means learning how to embrace discomfort so that things change for the better. You’ll need a healthy dose of confidence, both in yourself as an entrepreneur and in the power of your ideas. No one knew they needed an iPhone until they did. Which idea of yours will set the world on fire?
High school is also an ideal time to learn soft skills such as teamwork and leadership. You’re probably already familiar with teamwork through group projects or team sports. That is invaluable practice for working on a team in business, where you have to constantly navigate between speaking up and active listening, between fighting for your ideas and compromising.
Leadership is a skill that not everyone is born with, and that’s fine. Thankfully, there are many ways to develop leadership skills. High school is a fantastic time to practice the art and science of being a strong leader. Not only should you practice making your voice heard, but growing comfortable with drawing people to you, inspiring them, and instilling confidence in the people who believe in you.
CLASSES TO CONSIDER
The most successful entrepreneurs know how to craft the perfect email to make their customers happy. They can present their startup idea to a room full of potential investors without breaking a sweat. Their social media accounts have zillions of followers and subscribers. Why?
There are several aspects of communication you’ll want to master in your entrepreneurial journey. Bob Sheppard, the late announcer for the New York Yankees, once said:
My purpose in public address and in speech is really encapsulated in three c’s: clear, concise, correct. No overblowing rhetoric or anything like that. As simple as possible: clear, concise, correct.
Clear. Concise. Correct.
A good communicator is clear in what they are trying to say and what they want from their audience. They avoid flowery language or going too far off-topic. And they double and triple-check their facts, grammar, and language.
In addition to the three c’s, a good communications class will teach you the difference between posting 10-second videos on TikTok for your friends and creating a YouTube video presentation for your clients. Learn how to present yourself professionally so that your investors, customers, team members, and partners will take you seriously as an entrepreneur.
As we said above, leadership is an essential skill for all entrepreneurs. In a leadership class, you should learn how to go from simply “being in charge” to “inspiring your team to success.” This means developing a set of methods for resolving conflicts among your team members (or even yourself and a business partner). Build up those problem-solving muscles so that you can handle any setback with ease. Discover what it means to be an active listener and to lead by example.
Again, these are good skills to have in both entrepreneurship AND in life!
How will the price of product A in the United States affect the cost of product B in India? Why should you care about the employment rate where you don’t live?
No business exists in a self-contained bubble. That’s where world economics comes in. A class like this will sharpen your mind so that you will not only stay on top of trends in the global marketplace, but you will learn how to predict them. When you can see a drop, a boom, or a crisis coming ahead of time, you can adjust your business accordingly. This way you will thrive no matter what comes your way.
Even if bags and bags of profits aren’t your goals in running a business, you still need customers, right? This is where psychology comes in. Think of it as your secret weapon for getting into the minds of your target customer. Who are they? What do they want? And most importantly, what will it take to get them to spend money on your product or service?
Beyond customers, a good psychology class can help you better understand what future employers are thinking about when they are looking to hire. What particular need are they trying to fill, or problem are they trying to solve? Who wouldn’t want that advantage when interviewing for jobs!
OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM
If your school doesn’t offer classes like these, or if you can’t access these types of courses via a nearby community college, here are a few other options:
Remember, education is more than memorizing facts. Learning these critical entrepreneurial skills will give you the boost you need to rise to the top!
Click here to learn how the Kantner Foundation helps young entrepreneurs by offering college scholarships to Florida high school students.