Inspiring tomorrow’s entrepreneurs in school

I had an interesting conversation recently with a teacher who works at a local prestigious private school. He enthused about the private education offered by the school e.g. the high educational attainment levels, freedom from following a rigid curriculum and the worldwide travels and life experiences for the lucky pupils. All highly impressive until he got to the careers that the majority of the pupils go on to follow:

“…our pupils go on to become lawyers, accountants, bankers, doctors or work up to senior management in the local multinational companies…”

Ugh.

As a chartered accountant with a law degree who has held the position of senior manager within a local multinational company, I’m qualified to guffaw with disappointment!

I managed to utter:

“Do many go on to start their own businesses?”

The answer was a predictable “no”. This was swiftly followed by a 20 minute rant from me (poor guy) about how we need more entrepreneurs, more wealth creators and business owners and how we need to inspire them as early as possible. To show kids that there is an alternative to a “prestigious job” within the professions or in industry and to plant the entrepreneurial seeds during their schooling.

I questioned whether it would be possible to set a week aside as some sort of “Enterprise Week” within the school – a week dedicated to developing tomorrow’s young entrepreneurs?

This could kick off with an inspiring talk by a successful entrepreneur. This would get the kids enthused and ready for the fun and exciting week ahead. The pupils would be put into mixed teams ready to take on a week long intensive project. The actual outcome is far less important than the learning but the project could be framed around solving a customer or consumer problem (like the best entrepreneurial ideas usually do) with a view to each team presenting their proposed product, service or solution at the end of the week.

Each day could have a different theme or focus such as:

  • Monday – innovation techniques, brainstorming, strategy etc
  • Tuesday – team dynamics, character traits, building a team etc;
  • Wednesday – defining target markets; supply chains and distribution;
  • Thursday – branding, marketing and turning customers into mad raving fans;
  • Friday – presentation / pitching skills building to a (friendly) Dragons’ Den type event with external participants from the local business community

Each stage could be faciliated by external specialists. The week would be activity and experimentally driven i.e. minimal class room style teaching. Mistakes would be encouraged and celebrated as it takes the teams closer to a better solution.

Who knows it might even lead to the creation of solutions that are better than those delivered by the ‘real world of work’?

Is this already happening? If so, please let me know as I would love to get involved or at least shout about it here.

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