We know we need to do more than just ‘teach’ people entrepreneurship – ‘learning’ is a very different process, particularly from the creativity and attitude angle. We established this in more detail in this post here. I touched on how we must inspire people to become entrepreneurs, particularly those who have never really considered entrepreneurship as a viable career option.
Remember your favourite teacher from school. Why did you like them? What made them good teachers? In my experience, the best teachers do far more than teach – they inspire. They make learning interesting and engaging. Teachers who are able to transfer their passion for a subject, make learning much easier – even enjoyable. And in helping us learn, they are empowering us. They are giving us understanding, knowledge to pass exams or to get to university and giving us important life skills. How do we relate this to entrepreneurship?
Today we seem to be trying to ‘teach’ adults how to become entrepreneurs, which, as I’m sure you’ll agree, is far harder than helping children learn the associated traits such as being innovative, resourceful and independent. But the core principles of ‘teaching’ must remain to inspire and empower; as neither is sufficient on its own. And one without the other is very common. I’ve met many people who have been inspired to start-up on their own but haven’t the first clue about where to begin (not empowered). Others, typically through their work, have a firm grasp of business principles and the associated skills and characteristics (empowered) but are content in a secure job providing a regular salary that they don’t want to risk losing (uninspired). So how do we go about inspiring and empowering entrepreneurs?
There are a number of schemes attempting to do this – the Start-Up Loans scheme in the UK, for example, aims to inspire and empower whilst Doug Richard’s School for Startups is helping thousands realise their dreams in much the same way. Both are succeeding in giving 18-30 year olds the opportunity of starting their business venture through both financial and non-financial support as well as providing them inspiration to achieve their goals.
The difficulty we face is that creating the mental environment of an entrepreneur, including the ‘can-do’ approach and a certain attitude to risk, is infinitely harder than if these skill and behavioural patterns were a part of how we grew up.
Is it not clear that we should also be focussing our efforts on trying to promote key skills in young children, through enterprise education, in order for us to produce creative and driven individuals who have the skills required to become the employers of tomorrow? It’ll be so much easier than having to reteach them all these characteristics once they have been through a childhood and young adulthood of sitting exams. We must keep the idea of becoming self-employed or an entrepreneur (whether it be in charitable, social or private enterprise) engrained in the minds of the next generation so these careers are seen as genuinely viable career choices.