The words “entrepreneur” and “entrepreneurship” are heard more and more frequently these days. Why? Because creative people and “go-getters” are being recognized and rewarded for their innovations. There are entrepreneurship classes in middle schools and high schools all over the country and some districts are taking it to the next level—elementary school. But why?
The skills taught in entrepreneurship classes are applicable to almost any career, profession and life and include the following:
- Look for solutions to problems
- Think outside the box
- Accept failure and learn from it
- A little fear is okay
- If at first you don’t succeed, try again and again
- Embrace your motivation and enthusiasm
- Keep reading, learning and researching
- Set goals and once achieved, move them farther
- Develop your emotional intelligence
- Be open to other opinions and opportunities
Obviously, this is not a complete list.
Recently, The Naples Children’s Business Fair was hosted by the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce Leadership Collier Foundation in partnership with Collier County Public Schools at Gulf Coast High School on January 11th; which is the 5th largest children’s business fair in the country with over 100 young entrepreneurs with a desire to sell their business items. This organization offers support to kid-entrepreneurs about the basics of running a business while presenting their products and services at a well-attended event.
The Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce works to encourage economic diversity and opportunity for all by connecting business and education. They have partnered with non-profits and schools to enable partnerships between thousands of students and successful work-based learning opportunities, such as internships, shadowing a professional, industry fairs and worksite tours.
The Leadership Collier Foundation aims to inform, engage and make a positive difference in Collier County through community leadership programs and initiatives focused on talent development, relationship building and community engagement. Since August 2018, more than 3,800 students in Southwest Florida have been paired with a work-based learning experience, thanks to The Leadership Collier Foundation.
Parents, guardians, teachers and friends were there to support the entrepreneurs, both with setting up their booths, words of encouragement and suggestions. And on this particular day, problem-solving, when the unexpectedly strong wind propelled some of the booths into the air and products skipping along the courtyard. Luckily, smiles abounded and they were confident with the strategies they employed to defeat the wind.
Keep in mind that for some of these elementary and high school students, it was their first foray into finance and salesmanship. For example, one parent coached the student by saying, “Be sure to thank your customers and give them a business card.” Another was the student’s teacher and she encouraged the student to speak up and not be afraid to show the products for sale. Some students have participated in the past and have refined and improved their products, packaging and sales pitches. Some of the students with special needs required a bit more guidance, but they were all smiles when a sale was completed.
Entrepreneurship classes are popping up all over the country as more people realize that not everyone must go to college. Some students are just naturally tuned in to finding solutions and inventing and they thrive on the challenges and problem-solving. Look at some of the students in our schools today who are writing computer programs, creating 3-D models and perfecting formulas for their products. Really, it is just mind-boggling what students are capable of today.
What can you do to help? Call Amanda Beights at The Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce at 239-262-6376 or email www.NaplesChamber.org/childrensbusinessfair or visit the Work-Based Learning Experiences Website at www.collierschools.com/wbl or call Courtney Stahlman, Manager, HS Career Academies at 239-377-0109 or at StahlC@collierschools.com.
You can offer to speak to a group about your profession or business, host a student intern, sit on a panel for student presentations, mentor a student, conduct a mock interview, be a guest speaker to an entrepreneur class, provide a job shadowing experience, host a teacher externship or join an advisory board to provide feedback, industry updates and design the most current and relevant programs for CCPS students. Sounds like fun, eh? You’ll be amazed at what’s going on in our schools and contribute your expertise in a positive way.