The Entrepreneurial Mindset

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Why It’s Vital for Students to Learn to Survive in Today’s Marketplace

Today’s high school students are busier than ever. Between studying for SATs, applying to college, nurturing GPAs, and engaging in extracurriculars, students can be so overburdened that the idea of embarking into the world of entrepreneurship can seem like a distant dream.

And yet, more and more young people are starting to build their own businesses. Mark Greenberg is the founder and CEO of BuildEd. He uses his experience as an entrepreneur in industries ranging from consulting to real estate investment to develop entrepreneurship courses for partners like ASU Prep Digital and several K-12 programs.

According to Greenberg, entrepreneurship is an essential life skill and it’s never too soon to get started. As he sees it, adapting the proper mindset and learning the basic principles of entrepreneurship can transform students into successful business owners. But it all starts with how you define “entrepreneur.”

“An entrepreneur is a problem seeker, a problem solver, and an innovator,” says Greenberg. “I don’t think entrepreneurship is limited to those who start organizations or ventures. More than anything, an entrepreneur is a person that can add value, whether they create something themselves or work for a company.”

Under that definition, the path towards entrepreneurship and an entrepreneurial mindset can be pursued by anyone, including a teen. For those who are interested in attaining entrepreneurial success for themselves, Greenberg lays out its three core components.

The Building Blocks of Entrepreneurship

Identify the opportunity. This usually means finding a problem to be solved or a need to be filled.
Create value. Solving the problem or filling the need in a unique way.
Capture that value.

“Once you’ve done One and Two, Three is really easy,” says Greenberg. “Everything is an exchange of value. For example, if you’re aware of your company’s needs, and you’re constantly creating value, you’ll be running the place at some point. Conversely, if you just do what you’ve been asked, then you’re only a commodity.”

Of course, entrepreneurial skills can be developed outside working for a company or other professional setting. Entrepreneurship starts with finding ways to add value to the environment you’re already in, whether that’s the classroom, the athletic field, at home, or at a part-time job. This can be a novel concept for many high school students.

“What if you did two or three things for your parents that you weren’t asked to do?” he asks his students. “How do you think that value might be exchanged? When you ask if you can stay out a little later, do you think you might get some of that value back?”

As Greenberg sees it, entrepreneurship is much simpler than we tend to think it is. If you have the ability to add value to your community by identifying and solving a problem with an idea or skill of your own, then you’re already on your way to becoming an entrepreneur. All that’s left is to put your idea into action.

Tips for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Optimism is vital.

There’s a time and place for constructive criticism and playing the devil’s advocate, but successful entrepreneurs look at every problem they face with the confidence that a solution can and will be found.

Don’t fall in love with your idea.

“Starting from that place means your ears are closed,” Greenberg explains. “Entrepreneurship, when done properly, is about getting the answers to the test before you take it.” But if you already think you have the right answers, then you’re going to have serious issues when you encounter unexpected challenges. The best way to counter this is by listening well and being willing to adapt your idea for the sake of finding a solution.

Navigate risks with caution.

“I think it’s a false premise that entrepreneurs are risk takers,” says Greenberg. “They’re obviously not paralyzed by risk. There’s risk in taking a new job, there’s risk in starting something on your own, but entrepreneurship is about understanding fully what risks you’re taking and mitigating those risks.” In other words, foolish entrepreneurs dive headfirst and blindly into every risk they encounter, but successful entrepreneurs are aware of every potential risk, so they know which are worth taking and which should be avoided.

Learn by doing.

“Business savvy is something you accumulate over time, based on experience,” says Greenberg. “You have to get in the game. Yes, you need education, but you also need experience. We want our students to learn by doing.” Greenberg believes any student can be taught the essential skills of entrepreneurship as long as they have a safe space where they can experiment with their ideas; the guidance of an experienced teacher who inspires and challenges them; a strong curriculum that teaches them practical lessons; and most importantly, the opportunity to test their ideas in the real world.

“If you create an environment with those four things I think you can absolutely create entrepreneurs,” Greenberg says. “I see entrepreneurship education as the great equalizer. You don’t have to have an IQ of 150. You just need to step up, be armed with an idea, and be willing to work hard.”

Even if most high school students have yet to develop specific professional ambitions, according to Greenberg’s definition of entrepreneurship, the entrepreneurial mindset is useful far beyond the world of startups and business ventures, and therefore it ought to be learned and adapted by everyone.

“Life is about interacting with people, and there’s a lot of problem-solving along the way,” he explains. “Entrepreneurship – your ability to interact with people well and solve problems – will equip you for your personal life, your family life, and your professional life.”

We’re sold.

These Young Entrepreneurs Will Inspire You to Start a Business

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Apple. Google. Facebook. Starbucks. All of the iconic businesses we recognize today started as mere ideas. It’s the action you take with your initial idea that establishes you as an entrepreneur. The success of your vision comes from the right combination of confidence, versatility, and resilience paired with opportunity.

Today’s business world is ripe with young trailblazers breaking age barriers and establishing entrepreneurial careers after opening the door for opportunity when it knocked.

Just look at these inspiring teen entrepreneurs who are changing the face of business.

Arizona State University (ASU) recently hosted the 2018 ASU Innovation Open, which rewarded savvy young entrepreneurs with over $195,000 in prize money. The grand prize winner, Hoolest, is the brainchild of ASU student Nicholas Hool, who engineered a device to biomechanically reduce performance stress. He honed in on a problem (event-triggered anxiety) and used his personal talents and resources to create the solution. The concept was awarded $100,000 and massive exposure.

Think you have to wait until college to launch your dreams? Think again. CEOs whose age barely reaches double digits are successfully running full-fledged operations. And many of these teen entrepreneurs focus on a problem they need to be solved in order to improve their own quality of life.

New Yorker and avid lacrosse player Samantha Wolfe found that her ability to play was inhibited by cold winter months. With the help of her father, 17-year-old Wolfe created a heated lacrosse stick that is currently testing at the professional level. Her ingenuity landed her on TeenBusiness’ Top Twenty 2017 list.

Sometimes a business is founded solely for the betterment of society. Young social innovators are applying creative ideas to philanthropic missions worldwide.

Mexican teen Julian Rios Cantu nearly lost his mother to breast cancer when he was 13. Her diagnosis was the catalyst to Cantu’s product Eva, an auto-exploration bra that assists women in detecting early signs of breast cancer.

Twelve teenage girls united to engineer a solution for the homeless population near their high school. With no experience in coding or 3D printing, this all-girl team created a solar-powered tent that packs into a rolling backpack. Their determination even spawned the hashtag #wegetitdone.

If you are uncertain of a problem that needs solving, reflect on what makes you tick. What compels you? What activates your unique set of skills and talents? Erwin “Jimmy Burner” Portis Jr. was in third grade when he developed a love for fashion. Now 19 years old, he is living his dream as a fashion designer. Once you unlock your passions, the creative process unfolds and the reigns are yours to turn that passion into a tangible business.

Now, it’s your turn.

Whether you are solving a social issue, creating a product with a key consumer in mind, or evolving an outdated service to fit current trends in technology, now is the time to let your ideas take flight.

By embracing the entrepreneurial mindset in high school, you are opening the door to unlimited potential. Equipped with the right courses, you can approach entrepreneurship with a holistic understanding of the academic foundation as well as the practical application of the key principles of business.

And the business world is bursting with investors seeking out the next great concept. From startup accelerators to conventions and contests, you are one online search away from finding a hub of eager ears ready to listen to your vision. Capitalizing on resources like these exponentially increases your venture’s potential for success.

If you are ready to take on the rewarding challenge of a lifetime, the business world is there for the taking.

My Teen Has a Business Idea

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Teen Business – How to Help Your Teen Start a Business in High School

Remember the teenage days of mowing lawns and washing cars to make some cash? Consider that era long gone. Today’s teenager might have a lawnmower in tow, but she may have also taken the time to conceptualize a brand, develop a business plan, design a website, and build a social media following. Being a teen business owner is becoming more common and it’s a fantastic way to prepare for the real world. 

Preconceptions about age once associated with the business world have been pushed aside by a class of young, innovative and tenacious visionaries. And the next visionary may be your teenager. So, what do you do when your eager teen comes to you with a business idea?

Listen to their ideas with an open mind.

Your first step as a parent is simple: listen. It may come as no surprise that you stand to be their first and biggest investor. Whether it’s emotional, mental, or financial, your support offers a crucial springboard for your teen’s confidence and creativity. By listening without judgment or expectation, you allow your entrepreneurial teen to express their unique point of view free from the cursory skepticism young minds often receive. Starting a business in high school is no easy feat, but the personal growth and potential career opportunities that result can be invaluable. Remember, being a teen business owner is impressive and admirable, especially to college admissions officers and future employers. 

Ask the right questions to spur in-depth analysis.

Is your teen eager to become an entrepreneur but stumped on what business to pursue? This is when your guidance is once again fundamental. Ask them questions like, “What makes you happy?” and “What are your talents?” Often the catalysts for entrepreneurial journeys are innate passions and skills. If your entrepreneur is still unsure, encourage them to outline which needs they think aren’t being fulfilled in your local community. Business Insider provides a helpful list of ideas that might just ignite your teen’s ambition.

Encourage them to get hands-on.

Forming a tangible business can be an excellent bridge between the theoretical lessons of the classroom and the practical realities of the business world. Without concrete experience, a student can often feel lost after graduation (which can be a stressful transition as it is). There is simply no substitute for learning by doing. By executing a business endeavor in high school, your teen can put ideas into practice in a safe and low-stakes atmosphere.

Encourage them to find mentors.

Another essential step in aspirant entrepreneurship is finding your mentors and role models. Entrepreneur Magazine lists this action as one of the 8 tips for high school entrepreneurs. Who serves as better role models than peer-aged tycoons fulfilling their dreams and changing the landscape of technology, social progress, and even venture capitalism? Fortune Magazine’s “18 under 18: Meet the Teen Entrepreneurs Who Are Changing the World” is an excellent resource to motivate your teen to follow through on their vision. As young as 11 years old, these game-changers are living proof that, regardless of age, a good idea paired with the right tools can lead to widespread success.

Support them through their perceived failures.

One valuable lesson your teen will learn by starting a business is how to handle failure. Failure is a necessary part of any entrepreneur’s eventual success. And while failure may never feel good, learning how to maintain perspective, confidence, and determination through periods of stress results in an unshakable strength and level-headedness that no classroom could teach. As C.S. Lewis once said, “Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” Adaptability, creativity, and resilience flourish from these often temporarily frustrating experiences and that mighty trinity is invaluable to every entrepreneur.

Embolden them to take relevant courses.

To help strengthen your teen’s business idea and its sustainable growth, you can guide your teen in enrolling in relevant courses that are beyond the standard classes offered in many high schools. Courses in psychology, economics, finance, leadership, ethics, communications, and entrepreneurship can equip your budding leader with an entrepreneurial mindset early on. Read this post to understand the instrumental benefits these courses can provide.

Who knows, you may be championing the next great innovator or social influencer. Remember, in 2018, children are no longer the future. They are the present.

13 Business Ideas for Teens

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Simple Business Ideas That An Entrepreneurial Teen Could Start Now

Believe it or not, many global leaders cut their teeth early on in life as “kidpreneurs” or teen business owners. Many people have formed great companies from simple ideas that they started noodling about when they were in their high school. For most teenagers the motive to start a small business is simple — they need money! But the spirit of true entrepreneurship comes from when people see a problem or a demand and, through creative enterprise, they come up with a solution to meet that need or demand.

There are hundreds of business ideas just waiting to be discovered. A teen can start by figuring out what they’re good at, what drives them and what they have access to.

Check out these 13 teen business ideas that any highschooler could start tomorrow:

1. Academic Tutor

Are you head of your class? Do you like to work one-on-one with other students your age or younger? Consider tutoring as a great side job. Pick a specific subject that you feel confident to tutor in or maybe expand your services to SAT/ACT Prep tutoring and help other students prepare.

2. Child Care

By far one of the most popular jobs amongst teens is babysitting. Sure, you can make some good money as a “sitter,” but think beyond the basics. A savvy teen could step up their game by providing other in-home services, like house-cleaning, errand delivery/pick-up, and even pet care. Get certified in CPR/First-aid and collect references from past families to provide an even more premium service for your clients.

3. Blogging/Podcasting

If you are a talented writer or have a passion for the theatrical, maybe blogging or podcasting is for you. Setting up a blog, writing interesting content and eventually getting enough traffic to your site can take some time, but pays out in the end. The more traffic you have, the more you can potentially make from advertisements on your site. With a relevant podcast, you can cover topics that interest you, host guests and fellow students on your show. Once you have a platform and a few listeners, you can invite local and even national businesses to become sponsors of your podcast.

4. Inventor

Inventing something isn’t just limited to a product; it can even be an idea or a concept that doesn’t exist “out there” right now. Intellectual Property is just as valuable as an actual product you create. Take the steps to do your research, talk with other entrepreneurs who have walked this path before and get your patent, prototype or idea on the path to becoming a reality.

5. Lawn Care

Lawn care can be a very lucrative business if you have transportation and equipment. You’d be surprised at how many neighbors would be happy to stop paying a large company to mow their lawn and instead throw some cash your way. Build your client base quickly with word of mouth marketing, door-to-door flyers and even yard signs.

6. Computer Setup/Tech Support

If you’re good with computers or technology, there is a huge demand for in-home tech services. People know that they have to keep their computers, smartphones and TV’s current, but may lack the know-how and time to set them up correctly. You can also provide a “help-line” where customers can call or text with you to get help solve their tech issues.

7. Graphic Design

There are dozens of online vendors that act as a directory for designers to custom create a logo or t-shirt design for clients. Companies like 99designs.com, fiverr.com, and threadless.com provide artists opportunities to compete for dollars when they submit designs that meet a customer’s needs. If the customer likes your design, you win and get paid the sum you agreed upon.

8. Musician

If you’re musically inclined, you can start a business with a band or as an individual musician — playing weddings or events. The local coffee shop or wine bar are perfect venues to get your name out there and hone your craft at the same time.

9. Event Photographer

Photography has become a very popular side-business amongst teens. Most teens have a leg-up in the game because they have a better understanding of new technology and an eye for what’s trending. There is a significant investment up front in quality equipment but if you can make a great plan and start winning some business, you can see a return on your investment in a flash!

10. Farmers Market Vendor

Farmers markets are popping up everywhere in every small to large town. If you have space and the ability to grow food in your home or garden, you can start a booth at your local farmer’s market to sell those homegrown food items. Or maybe you have a knack for handmade crafts like jewelry, candles or soap. Locals love to buy locally grown or made products.

11. E-commerce Reseller

Hit the local garage sales, thrift stores, and estate sales and buy items that you know can turn a profit online. Ebay, Etsy, and Craigslist are just some of the larger venues to get cash for your finds. Make sure you consider shipping costs and packaging when you resell.

12. Home Repair

If your pretty handy with tools and own a few or can borrow some from your parents, think about doing some on-call home repair or a refurbishing business. Fix a creaky door, change out light bulbs for an elderly person or tune up a bike; any of these jobs are simple but can be too time-consuming for people and that’s where you can solve a problem and make some cash.

13. Personal Shopper

Are you a fashionista? Good at finding deals and matching trends and tastes for other people? Maybe being a personal shopper is a good fit. Styling another person’s wardrobe or home can feel strange at first, but the truth is people really struggle to find the right clothes and shoes for the right occasion. Find clients who have a busy work schedule and may not be able to pick things out for themselves.

Starting a teen business is a great way to get on the path of having an entrepreneurial mindset, which will help you with all of your future endeavors, whether you choose to be a business owner or not.

7 Courses That All Aspiring Entrepreneurs Should Take in High School

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A Note to the Aspiring Entrepreneur

Becoming an entrepreneur isn’t the easy path, but it can certainly be rewarding. The business world is vastly different now than it was 10, or even five, years ago. In this digital age, starting a business doesn’t look the way it did for our parents. More people are trading in the traditional corporate path and opting to start their own companies instead. It doesn’t matter if you’re 15 or 35, your age doesn’t limit your ability to become an entrepreneur. According to this Forbes article, entrepreneurs are getting increasingly younger.

As an aspiring entrepreneur, honing your skills in a variety of areas will be important. Why wait until college to start honing your entrepreneurial mind? You can start now.

Here are the top seven courses that every aspiring entrepreneur should take in high school:

Psychology

Leadership expert and motivational speaker, Tony Robbins, has found that 80 percent of success is due to psychology and only 20 percent is due to strategy—which means any brand that hopes to succeed needs a CEO who understands how our minds work. Psychology helps young entrepreneurs understand what makes their future employees, customers, and other stakeholders tick. Making everything from interpersonal communications to how you manage your personal mindset easier to navigate. 

Economics

Understanding how a country’s economy works allows you to grasp how changes in that economy cause major ripples for individuals and businesses. For an aspiring entrepreneur, recognizing how the fluctuations in the economy can affect industries is paramount to making smart fiscal decisions that lead to a healthy business. Learning how your business could fit into the economy early on can save future entrepreneurs ample time (and money) in the long run.

Personal Finance

It all starts at the individual level and never is that truer than with personal finance. Learning how to budget your expenses, do your taxes, apply for loans and invest in stocks and bonds helps you stay cash-positive enough to fund a future business. You will also be able to use your newfound financial knowledge as a springboard for your business’ finances. Knowledge is power and so many people enter the business world without even a basic understanding of how the financial world works. 

Leadership

Even the best business ideas can’t survive without the vision and example of a strong leader. A leadership course will teach you everything you need to know about leading by example, managing conflict, and using your reasoning skills to make complex decisions. This course is a key asset in managing future client relationships and current interpersonal relationships.

Entrepreneurship

It almost goes without saying that this course is one that all blossoming entrepreneurs should take. What does it mean to build a business? What are the steps to creating a brand? How do you turn your passion into a revenue stream? A course about entrepreneurship will likely guide you in answering these questions. More and more universities are recognizing the importance of offering entrepreneurship courses — by taking one in high school you’ll be ahead of the curve. 

Communications

Communication may be key, but it’s especially crucial in business. With money on the line, how you get your point across makes all the difference. A communications course will teach you how to be clear and concise in all forms of communication (written, verbal, in front of a group, one-on-one and everywhere in between), no unnecessary misunderstandings included.

Ethics

Similar to a philosophy class, an ethics course will challenge your perceptions of right and wrong, while making you consider your own integrity and values more deeply. Most businesses today actually start off by first establishing their core values. These values are meant to permeate everything they do and serve as a guiding force for the decisions they make. As an aspiring entrepreneur, this course will help you combat the desire to make money over doing what is right while inspiring you to start a business that aligns with your personal values system. 

The good news for high school students? All of these classes can count towards required credits for graduation! If your school doesn’t offer them, you can consider taking a few online to supplement your schedule. 

Check out ASU Prep Digital’s online course list to learn more and get started on your entrepreneurial path.