The American Dream is alive and well—and the future’s especially bright for aspiring entrepreneurs. Even among high school students, there has been a surge of interest in learning the foundational skills needed for a potential entrepreneurial future.
One catalyst for this increased interest among students is inevitably the COVID-19 pandemic, among the effects of which are general job/career uncertainty, a continued move toward remote working, online business and eCommerce, and the need (or strong preference) for flexible online coursework.
In this blog, we’ll provide an overview of different types of entrepreneurship education. Whether you’re a jr/high school or college student, or an adult learner looking to add to your skillset and widen your career options, read on!
What Is Meant By Entrepreneurship Education?
Anyone can be an entrepreneur, with opportunities ranging from a local lemonade stand to the next billion dollar unicorn—and an entire spectrum in between. That being said, there are some essential skills that define entrepreneurial success. Your decision should be in line with your personal goals, interests, learning style, and related education and experience.
Ultimately, there’s no common, widespread entrepreneurship education curriculum. Rather, entrepreneurship education exists along a spectrum of definitions, encompassing a learner’s ability to learn the business acumen and critical thinking and problem-solving skills needed for a successful entrepreneurial endeavor.
What Are the Most Important Skills for Aspiring Entrepreneurs?
- Creativity: Innovative, creative thinking may be the most foundationally essential (and, arguably, among the most difficult to teach) assets in an aspiring entrepreneur
- Vision: A clear vision of what you want to accomplish (and why) helps you better develop your ideas
- Collaboration and Teamwork: It’s tough to go it alone, and if you don’t develop the skills of collaboration and teamwork, you may encounter a lot of (avoidable) frustrations.
- Agility: No one can predict the future, but the ability to be agile—to roll with the punches, pivot, or change perspective when needed, etc.—helps you future-proof your business.
- Risk Tolerance: Entrepreneurship requires a certain risk tolerance, so traits like resilience and general emotional intelligence are ones to develop.
- Problem Solving: The ability to research and problem-solve (market/trends research, growth strategies, financial intelligence, etc.) provides an essential foundation for navigating the world of entrepreneurship.
- Marketing: You’ll need to market yourself and your business idea to generate capital and other resources vital to business development
Is a Specific Degree (or Other Certification) Required?
No specific degree is required to be an entrepreneur. While a large subset of budding entrepreneurs do pursue a bachelor’s degree in business or entrepreneurship, which they then supplement with an MBA program, there are definite pros and cons to this approach. Obviously, there is a lot to gain from these formal programs—including the knowledge and coursework, skills development, critical thinking/problem solving, and so on.
That being said, degree programs are expensive. And with no guaranteed outcomes—you can’t just flash your degree and suddenly be an entrepreneur—the investment is difficult for many to justify.
Individual courses can fill in some of the gaps in your knowledge, without the potentially-prohibitive investment of a degree program. These can teach the basics of higher-level entrepreneurial concepts, like management, growth strategies, venture financing, cash flow management, and market research.
What Are Your Options For Learning?
Depending on your personal circumstances, the scope of skill development, experience, and networking you may require will vary. Read on for a few tips for finding the right type(s) of entrepreneurship education, depending on where you’re at in the journey.
Entrepreneurship Education for Junior/High School Students
Among the reasons some school districts are spinning up entrepreneurship education coursework. Among the benefits of entrepreneurship education to students are refining foundational skills like collaboration and teamwork, public speaking, and creative problem solving.
Outside of the public education space, a number of new organizations have formed over the past few years with a focus on empowering students with entrepreneurial skills and thinking. Among innovative, future-thinking organizations are Student Inc, Lemonade Day, and WIT: Whatever It Takes.
Entrepreneurship Education for College Students
You could go for a Bachelor’s in Entrepreneurship, for example, if there are universities offering programs either online or in your area. Browse specific schools’ catalogs, looking for degree programs (or even individual courses) in the fields of Business or Entrepreneurship.
Bestcolleges.com has put together a handy guide where you can compare entrepreneurial degree programs from Arizona State University, Baylor University, University of Illinois-Champaign, Syracuse University, and Texas Christian University.
College students are wise to cultivate their network while they have access to like-minded peers and mentor-worthy educators. There may be student organizations for business-minded or entrepreneurially-inclined students, networking events, or mentoring programs worth considering, as well.
Entrepreneurship Education for Adult, Workforce Learners
There are 3 types of entrepreneurship education that may be of value to adults looking to skill up with entrepreneurial acumen: the DIY approach, a guided approach, and experience. For a well-rounded education, we recommend mixing and matching elements.
- The DIY Approach: For many reasons—primarily the time commitment and financial burden—going back to college to study entrepreneurship isn’t going to make sense for everyone. While the DIY approach, based on self-learning via online resources and real-life connections, isn’t right for everyone if you’re motivated and know what you want to learn and accomplish, you can learn everything you’ll need to know.
- The Guided/Mentored Approach: If you can connect with a role model or professional network, you’ll be able to gain invaluable insights into how to write your own success story. Connecting with a mentor offers a level of personalization that’s hard to compete with.
- Experience: Accruing experience as a learner isn’t always easy, and it can be incredibly stressful if trying-and-failing falls outside of your comfort zone. (We get it!) To find programs to suit your needs, do your research. Specifically, seek out collective organizations like accelerators, startup labs, or venture studios. These types of firms want their clients to succeed, so they will often offer some sort of curriculum or coursework options, as well as access to a network of professionals and other investors.
For some additional ideas into how you can start building your entrepreneurship education plan, we recommend starting with this resource put together by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE)’s Literacy Information and Communication System (LINCS) initiative. Here, you can find a wealth of information, including vetted resources for adult learners, an online discussion community, online courses, and more resources for adult learners.
NextStudios: The Next Step In Your Entrepreneurial Education
At NextStudios, we love a great success story. Are you the next protagonist?
As the only studio designed and operated by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs, with entrepreneurs, we’re passionate about helping you shape your vision, discover repeatable processes for innovation and growth, and advance your ideas with the learning, capital, and talent you’ll need. Drop us a line!