July 6, 2017

Entrepreneurship education is a marathon sport

Turo Numminen

Expert at Junior Achievement Finland

In sports, it’s generally accepted that you can’t start from the top. Rather, you begin from the basics and train your way up to the masterclass. Entrepreneurship is no different.

An average person is not able to create a globally scalable startup, even with an excellent idea. One needs to understand the process, have the right mindset and skills and, most importantly, a great team and a support network in order to succeed.

Luckily all these skills can (and should!) be learned, trained and tried out before getting your first startup off the ground.

Kids aren’t worried about making mistakes or failing fast. They are willing to invent new things, test different options and ask for mentoring while building their projects. Most kids are also natural marketers and they start marketing long before the minimum viable product has been finished. They also eagerly share the results and learn from each other, even if intellectual property rights are not fully resolved and shareholder agreement is still unsigned.

We should nurture kids’ enthusiasm and ideology and support learning while they grow up. Creating entrepreneurial learning experiences with hands on projects from the 1st grade could lead to more open entrepreneurs, ready to take on the world without the fear of failure. This won’t be a rapid process, but the sports industry is an excellent example of long-term development and success.

Education policy and programmes as well as many teachers already support entrepreneurial learning style; in that sense, we are heading in the right direction. The next step is to make sure that home is not hindering passion and pushing toward the traditional yet obsolete ‘permanent job’ ideology. Instead, we could say: You have five years to test, learn and fail – let’s talk about careers after that.

I hope to see a startup club as an after school activity for kids interested in changing the world. As they grow older, venture funds could “draft” the best talent to join existing startup teams, hoping that the rookies will run their own company later on. This is how it works in sports – and seems rather successful. What’s stopping us from being the first?

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