02 October 2014

Entrepreneurship Can Be Taught - And Might Someday be Taken as Seriously as High School Football

A new study by Kathryn Shaw of Stanford provides data supporting the notion that entrepreneurship can be taught

I would assume that like art, football, or accounting, there are people with a natural aptitude for it and that anyone can become better at it with the right coaches and experience. 

Every high school student knows about successful, high-paid athletes in the country and has a team of coaches at their high school who can help them to become better at football or basketball. In 40 of the 50 states, the highest paid public employee is a football or basketball coach.[1]  Even though everyone knows that only a fraction of the kids playing football in school will go onto become pros, the ones who do are all the more adept at it for all the time they "played" in school.  There are one million kids playing high school football. 1,700 men play for the NFL. 

Imagine taking entrepreneurship even half as seriously, making sure that students weren’t just aware of high profile entrepreneurs like Gates and Zuckerberg but actually had coaches at school who could help to develop them. Even if just a fraction of the kids who "played" entrepreneur in school went onto become professional entrepreneurs, it could make a huge difference in rates of job creation.

Gallup CEO Jim Clifton, who has led the analysis of millions of bits of data on this topic, argues that “from all of Gallup’s data and research on entrepreneurship, what will most likely tell you if you are winning or losing your city … [is] 5th to 12th graders’ image of and relationship to free enterprise and entrepreneurship.”[2] 

Just as students now play sports, they could compete on business plans and they could launch startups as varied as for-profit businesses, social movements and bands. A community could work to team up aspiring entrepreneurs who have business savvy and new business models with aspiring innovators with technical skills and new inventions. There are already a smattering of people pioneering and advocating policies such as these; what they need to make an impact is a community primed to realize the importance of developing such strategies and programs. Who knows? Perhaps in 20 years the top paid public employee in, say, 4 states will be an entrepreneurial coach who has helped to launch dozens of successful startups, creating jobs and wealth in the process.

Here's a really exciting example of people taking this idea seriously coming from the thought leader Steve Blank.

[1] http://deadspin.com/infographic-is-your-states-highest-paid-employee-a-co-489635228
[2] Jim Clifton, The Coming Jobs War, Gallup Press, 2013. 

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