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Entrepreneurship isn’t a joke!!!

Entrepreneurship could be viewed as one of the key reasons for the progress of the human race. The creation of things we use every day, like our smartphones, tablets and cars have all been due to the efforts of entrepreneurs. However, it is important to note that entrepreneurship is not limited to the owners of small or large companies. Even self-employed individuals or the local paanwallah can embody the spirit of entrepreneurship. Anybody who wants to use their business acumen, perseverance and risk taking ability to build a figment of their imagination into something that benefits society can be considered a true entrepreneur.

This brings up the question; can the capabilities needed to be an entrepreneur be taught?

The Need for Entrepreneurship Education

There are conflicting views on the contribution that formal education can make for an entrepreneur who wants to build a successful company.

Some believe that a structured program of business education from a reputed institute would be invaluable for building the entrepreneur’s mindset, skills and knowledge. Reading the appropriate textbooks and having discussions within a classroom environment would be critical for enabling them to discover how the disciplines of marketing, finance, human resources and operations can be applied in a business. Additionally, having knowledgeable business school professors as guides in their learning journey is an experience that is difficult to duplicate outside the college environment. Those budding entrepreneurs who cannot take out time for a full time business program, can always avail of the many part time business courses offered in major cities around India.

However, others use the examples of famous entrepreneurs who did not finish college like Bill Gates, Richard Branson & Dhirubhai Ambani, to take the view that formal business education is not needed. They believe that entrepreneurship can be learned through the day-to-day running of a startup business supported by reading business books or getting advice from peers.

One thing that is common in both the above views is the importance of continuous learning as entrepreneurs start and scale their business. It is difficult for any entrepreneur to succeed if they close themselves to the various opportunities offered to enhance their personal competence.

Why Entrepreneurship Education

While society innovates, our K-12 schools have remained stagnant. As a result, they are not graduating the doers, makers and cutting-edge thinkers the world needs. Certainly, some public and private schools are modernizing — having students work in groups to solve problems, learn online and integrate science with the arts. But most institutions do not teach what should be the centerpiece of a contemporary education: entrepreneurship, the capacity to not only start companies but also to think creatively and ambitiously.

Entrepreneurship education benefits students from all socioeconomic backgrounds because it teaches kids to think outside the box and nurtures unconventional talents and skills. Furthermore, it creates opportunity, ensures social justice, instills confidence and stimulates the economy.

Schools need not teach these skills on their own. They can reach out to the myriad organizations that help teachers in low-income areas teach entrepreneurship, or take advantage of initiatives that pair kids of all ages with science and engineering experts across the country so they can engage in hands-on projects.

Additionally, entrepreneurship embraces talents and skills that teachers in conventional classrooms might otherwise penalize. “Entrepreneurs are anomalies; they don’t fit in,” They may not be “book smart” but thrive if given an opportunity to utilize their people smarts and risk-taking skills, he says.

Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, is a good illustration. Branson often recalls how he was a bad student. And serial entrepreneur Bo Peabody similarly points out that entrepreneurs tend to be B students — good at a variety of things, but not stellar at one thing in particular. It’s this ability to think broadly that allows these young people to complete the variety of tasks necessary in starting companies, Peabody says.

This famed venture capitalist’s belief that entrepreneurs have limited attention spans is echoed by Anthony Pensiero, Pensiero, president of Pennwood Technology Group, says he has attention-deficit disorder and that because he was never medicated for it, he was able to channel his considerable energies into the endeavors that pointed him on the path to success.

More reasons for entrepreneurship education include the likelihood that it will promote social and emotional well-being. Entrepreneurship might even correlate with happiness more than do other categories of business endeavors, according to a 2012 study of 11,000 MBA graduates from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.

According to Wharton professor Ethan Mollick, who co-authored the study, the graduates studied who started their own businesses were for the most part “significantly happier” than others due to perceived greater control over their own destiny. It’s no wonder, then, that well-known business schools such as Wharton, Columbia and Harvard are ramping up their entrepreneurship offerings: Student demand for these courses is on the rise.

There is more good news here: Entrepreneurship education is making its way into some schools, thanks to forward-thinking people and organizations. Certain programs already encourage students to start their own companies as early as high school; and certain schools are working with venture capitalists and angel investors to fund kids’ startups. Other schools have made entrepreneurship courses graduation requisites.

Boldface names in business are signing up: This past January, AOL co-founder Steve Case and former Hewlett-Packard chairman and CEO Carly Fiorina headed a panel of businesspeople and academics, in which they called for the creation of a national competition in which teams of K-12 students would pitch their start-up ideas to judges.

Young entrepreneurs are making an impact as well. Emily Raleigh, a junior at Fordham University, is the founder and CEO of The Smart Girls Group, which “seeks to unite, inspire, and empower the next generation of influential women.” What started as a digital magazine, when Raleigh was a senior in high school, now consists of 12 distinct brands ranging from newsletters to online classes to a network of professional adult women.

Maya Penn, a 13-year-old TED talker, sells her own knit scarves and hats online, and donates a percentage of her proceeds to nonprofits. Sixteen-year-old prodigy Erik Finman, who recalls a teacher telling him to drop out and work at McDonald’s, founded the video-chat tutoring program Botangle and the startup Intern for a Day, which connects companies with potential interns who work for a day on a project that constitutes a vocational audition.

Given developments like these, traditional K-12 education — the old “chalk and talk,” memorization and regurgitation and bubbling in correct answers — seems like the very nemesis of innovation.

“If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.”

Albert Einstein

Why Youth Need Entrepreneurship Education?

Today, the focus of education, especially in India, is to create excellent employees. The aim of school and college education has sadly reduced to just producing academically good students, one who clear interviews and get selected to work in a large corporations. Grass root innovation, discovery and problem solving is stifled and many bright and enterprising ideas are not being developed.

World over it is being realized that economies need the entrepreneurs and innovation, to bring in latest technologies, jobs through solutions to global problems and solve the issues facing humanity. Out of the box thinking is needed to address the Sustainable Development Goals.

Another aspect, that we must understand, is that entrepreneurship skills and mindset develop the child holistically and inculcates the 21st century skills in them. Such education will come to use for the child in her life, even if she chooses not to be an entrepreneur.

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