Educators Have A Key Role In Nurturing An Entrepreneurial Spirit Among The Youth When you stand up in front of a classroom and impart knowledge, you have genuine power, and that's why educators can make a real difference to the future success of their students.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
When you stand up in front of a classroom and impart knowledge, you have genuine power, and that's why educators can make a real difference to the future success of their students. But it is not as simple as merely equipping them with the necessary tools. Instead, it is about identifying their innate talents at a crucial age, and supporting them to grow into the entrepreneurs and leaders of tomorrow. So, how can you go about doing this? Well, there are some remarkable tools, resources, and methods you can apply.
The data shows young people really are our future
What makes a successful entrepreneur? Many think that a business person is merely "created" through their upbringing, their lifestyle choices, and, indeed, their level of education. While all of the above may well be true, data shows that there could also be a natural element to entrepreneurship. In other words, what if these traits were innate?
The chances are they might be. Contrary to popular belief, children have been known to start exhibiting entrepreneurial behavior from as young as five. Yes, it is at this formative time that there are noticeable differences between them and their peers. While many may simply overlook the characteristics associated with entrepreneurship in children, educators have a core duty to identify and nurture them. Case in point, there is a huge body of evidence, well documented in the Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal, which suggests that educators do indeed play a vital role in the future business pursuits of their students. As they note, "Students' entrepreneurial self-efficacy can be enhanced by positive, encouraging comments from teachers."
Armed with this knowledge, it is, therefore, crucial that educational institutions put great emphasis on their students' entrepreneurial traits from the earliest possible age.
The challenge of spotting a young entrepreneur
There is no doubt in my mind that there are children out there with entrepreneurial spirit who slip under the radar. For whatever reason, these individuals are not given the help they need to thrive in the future. While they may still succeed off their own back, a little encouragement could go a long way. Research from the Institute of Education (University of London) shows that there are some small, yet fundamental differences between future entrepreneurs and their peer group. Here are some of the institute's findings around the signs exhibited by children at 10 years of age:
Extremely high levels of self-esteem
It takes no great leap of imagination to understand that self-esteem is linked to entrepreneurship. In truth, it takes a great amount of confidence to start and sustain a business in the long term. According to the research, future entrepreneurs scored 0.13 on this trait, whereas their peers averaged at -0.01. It is therefore fair to say that entrepreneurial students tend to be more outgoing and confident than is the norm for their age group.
High levels of self-regulation
In the same respect, business owners need to regulate their own lifestyles and workflows. You may think that this is a learnt characteristic, but the findings tell a different story. In fact, entrepreneurial children came in at 0.15 on self-regulation. Compared to the average of their peers, which was -0.01.
Slightly higher IQ levels
Now, here's a surprise for most of us. While some imagine that entrepreneurs are vastly more intelligent than those around them, the results show something altogether different. In reality, there was only a variation of 0.01 between the two sets of students. Lower reading abilities, but higher math abilities. Finally, it is worth considering children's aptitude for basic skills, such as math and reading. According to the sample, students who went on to be entrepreneurs had higher math abilities than their peers and yet lower reading skills. While these results won't be true in all cases, you should keep them in mind.
Of course, merely noticing these traits is not enough to brand a student as a "young entrepreneur." Still, if an educator does notice these signs, there are some specific scientific tools that are out there which may help. In using them, teachers will have the chance to identify students within their classrooms who may be the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Related: Breaking Stereotypes: Separating Myth From Reality When It Comes To Young Entrepreneurs
Scientific tools that identify entrepreneurial traits
There is not an exact science to figuring out what makes someone an entrepreneur. However, there are tools which allow you to identify students with these traits. So, it may be worth, as an educator, having your students complete these assessments so that you may better understand their talents. Here are a couple of options that you may wish to consider when finding the entrepreneurs and leaders of tomorrow in your institute.
The Builder Profile 10 (BP10) Assessment by Gallup
One of the most direct ways to establish whether someone has a natural talent for the world of entrepreneurship and business is to check out which traits they currently possess. Gallup offer the BP10 Assessment on their main site, which is available at a charge and can identify such traits. The tool is centered around 10 core talents that are essential in any entrepreneur and seeks to find out whether individuals already have them. When you have bought the test on behalf of your institute, you will be able to use it with your students and in the classroom environment. Each student will have to take a 30-minute assessment and the results will be almost instantaneous. The results come in the form of an in-depth evaluation of each student's strengths and depths of the 10 core entrepreneurial talents. Using them, an educator should be able to gain a stronger understanding of those whom they teach.
The Open Psychometric Test Resource
Should finances be an issue, there are also free resources online which may be equally as effective. One such place that you can find a wealth of useful tools and information is the Open Psychometric Test Resource, a collaborative project established by UK universities and research students. Here you can access tests revolving around aptitude, leadership, numerical skills, and, indeed, entrepreneurship. The test looks at key attributes, such as creativity, passion, control taking, achievement striving, and industriousness. Each candidate simply has to answer 50 questions, saying whether they agree with each statement using a measure of "very inaccurate" to "very accurate." The results will then offer a full breakdown of the student's abilities.
How to nurture young entrepreneurs
Once an educator has used the above information and tools to identify gifted students within their institute, their job is by no means over. The stumbling block for many, though, is how to take the next step and nurture the talents that these young people possess. To aid you with this conundrum, it's worth looking at the research from the Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal once more for some useful insights to use in classes and workshops.
First identify, then develop natural talent
If a young person has completed the BP10 and it has shown that they have particularly strong business building talents, then it is important to understand this is only the beginning of the story. Working from the assessment results, the educator can provide further learning activity to nurture these talents– starting with the amount of time and focus that these areas are given on a daily basis.
Think about curriculum development
Once talent is identified, there needs to be methods in place for students to nurture and develop their innate talent. One key aspect for educators to consider is creating a curriculum that allows students to "practise" their talents, much as they would practise any of the traditional subjects. The objective is to develop talents into strengths.
Learning experiences with entrepreneurs
"Vicarious learning" is the act of experiencing and taking on knowledge from the success of others. For example, teachers may invite successful entrepreneurs into the classroom to deliver speeches or even skill lessons. Over the years, there have been various studies to support the idea that this technique is effective on a small scale. The inclusion of entrepreneurs and business owners within an educational setting may seem unusual, but it is one that could seriously pay off in terms of results.
Positive reinforcement from teachers
While every educator seeks to encourage their students, there may be a deeper meaning behind this act. In fact, the research suggests that "verbal persuasion" -giving children positive reinforcement on their successes- can help to boost their leadership skillset.
Fear prevention lessons
Of course, one of the major things that holds young people back when it comes to entrepreneurship is the fear of failure itself. Hence, the research suggests that teachers should work alongside students to diminish fears surrounding autonomy and leadership. In doing so, they can help to give young people the confidence they need to start up a business alone in the future.
After identifying the necessary traits and including the above-mentioned approaches in the classroom, educators can give their students a fighting chance in the arena of leadership and entrepreneurship. Nurturing select students in this area will not only give them confidence, but gives them the best possible chance of realizing their potential. It is in this way that modern-day educators can truly make an impact on the future.
Related: Entrepreneurs Raising Entrepreneurs