Another school year is ending, and with it comes an abundance of local news reports of students from local high schools presenting business plans to a group of judges. Students, judges, and audiences all participating in a mock version of Shark Tank, the highly popular television show. From the perspective of both educators, parents, and community businesses, this is a win-win for all concerned. Business plan competitions captures an optimism about the community thriving in a hub of local startups.
The boom in high school classes offering business plan writing is real across the nation. But does a nine-month high school class really cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit? Not in the long run. And here are the reasons why.
Entrepreneurship is about mindset
Many of the high school courses teach mechanics, but not mentality. Students who go through the mechanics of creating a business plan are better prepared to be a loan officer at a bank than an entrepreneur. An entrepreneurial mindset is one that understands how to evaluate opportunity, calculate risk, endure ambiguity, and develop a sense of control. These are not qualities capable of being developed in one high school business plan class.
Entrepreneurship is about vision
Entrepreneurs must have the ability to see a desired outcome and then work hard to execute activities to achieve that outcome. A class preparing you to write a business plan is mostly about, well, how to write a business plan. Without much vision. Without vision, an entrepreneur will not last long in their new business venture.
Entrepreneurship is about preparing for a journey
Entrepreneurship is a journey that requires a long-term commitment through the launch and growth of a business. In most instances, high school classes in entrepreneurship focus on the prize at the end of the school year. A monetary award or certificates. Entrepreneurs often do not have a prize to work toward and cannot see the end of the road.Plus, how many students at the end of the school year say they plan to launch a business? Very few.
Entrepreneurship is about developing skills
To be an entrepreneur, you must have vision and leadership and know how to sell, network, and build a team. Other than selling (pitching the business plan), few of those skills are developed in these high school classes. Without these skills, there is no future entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurship is about more than one class
You would not expect a student to have one computer class and go off and join Google. Gaining expertise requires a series of courses guiding the student through skill building around creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship. These lifelong skills should start in middle school…if not earlier
If you are a champion of entrepreneurship in your local schools, visit Leroy Greene Academy, Phillip J. Patino School of Entrepreneurship, and the newly launched Real Journey Academies to see how this is done.