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4 Entrepreneurial Skills We Should Be Teaching in Schools

4 Entrepreneurial Skills We Should Be Teaching in Schools

“If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball” is the most memorable line from the 2004 movie Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. In the film, a kid fails to dodge the heavy steel projectile and gets nailed in the face; he falls to the floor writhing in pain.

For me, this is the perfect metaphor for the American educational system, with the wrench being the future students aren’t prepared for.

But, it doesn’t have to be this way. We can teach that kid, the ill-prepared student roaming the halls of the school in Everywhere, USA, to anticipate and learn to play — to succeed. We can teach him to build platforms, create confidence, recognize patterns and win by failing. We can teach him entrepreneurship.

Building platforms.

Beyond skills, the ability to think critically and creatively is what often separates the most successful from the average. They are learned platforms an individual can leverage to deliver value and outperform the competition. Blogs, vlogs and podcasts, on the other hand, are examples of platforms entrepreneurs use to reach potential customers. The idea is to combine the two types of platforms to influence the marketplace and make profit.

Schools already teach content creation, but it’s often outside of the realm of useful — kids do it for a grade and little else. What if we replaced English essays with compelling blog posts? Argumentative writing supported with evidence is already taught in high school English and could be applied to a blog. With teachers no longer being the sole audience, the effectiveness of the student’s arguments could be judged by metrics such as engagement numbers, reader or viewer or listener comments, and eventually product/service purchases.

Personal branding.

Kids know what they like but don’t always know what they stand for. They are influenced by peers and media. Marketers have developed a set of strategies to sway their opinions. Psychologist Marc Andrews describes advertising techniques such as using attractiveness, humor, scarcity, fear, social proof, sex and subliminals in his book Hidden Persuasion: 33 Psychological Influences Techniques in Advertising — all designed to influence and close the deal.

But, if a teen spends time branding herself, which involves reflecting on personal values and identifying who she truly is, she can become more self-aware and use this awareness to influence the world in positive ways. Then, she can create stories and products or services that are valuable, not superficial, because they are things she is passionate about and wants to share with the world.

Personal branding has other benefits, too. It builds confidence. It allows individuals to introduce themselves to the world and create a positive digital footprint, which is becoming essential in pursuing business and employment opportunities. Additionally, creating a personal brand differentiates one from the crowd and allows her to showcase skills and expertise.

Creating products or services.

While startup failure statistics vary greatly depending on the criteria used to define failure, a CB Insights survey of 101 failed startups found the top reason for failure was creating products consumers did not want, with 42 percent of the companies naming this as one of the reasons. Product “pricing/cost issues” and “user-unfriendly product” were near the top as well.

Renowned physicist and futurist Michio Kaku explained on The James Altucher Show that robots are “really bad at pattern recognition,” a skill that is strictly human. For now. Armed with the knowledge artificial intelligence will stink at it for decades, we can teach pattern recognition in school. And while some of it is intuitive, a 2012 study concluded that expertise in a domain greatly improves intuition. The researchers also found individuals can be trained to recognize patterns when given a set of thoughtful criteria to use.

Thus, we can teach students to develop approaches they can use to create products and services people actually need. One such strategy is design thinking — a human-centered design model developed by the Stanford d.school — currently gaining popularity in K-12 education.

Smart failure.

Experts say the willingness to start over from scratch is one of the key traits of successful entrepreneurs. This involves skills but also mindset — the willingness to change products, adjust the marketing approach, shift industries or rebrand.

And this is an area in which American schools lack. While growth mindset has become part of educational jargon and is encouraged, many of the encouragers — school teachers and administrators — do not practice it. Failure is often final, as evidenced by the emphasis on test scores and grades. It is still uncommon for high school teachers to allow students multiple ways and opportunities to prove concept mastery. While NECAP has nothing to do with fixing torn menisci, STAR will not make your child popular among his peers and PAWS is not the title of the latest episode of Paw Patrol, every U.S. state participates in standardized testing, and a multimillion-dollar industry exists to get parents and students “ahead.”

George Couros, a well-known educator and author, writes about the need for educational leaders to “make it clear that failure is an option” and teaching students that reflecting on failure and learning from it leads to “true growth” in his bestseller The Innovator’s Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity. As a successful entrepreneur himself, Couros recognizes that status quo education is lacking in its preparation of kids for the world of now.

Perhaps this excerpt from The Innovator’s Mindset says it best: “If we are going to help our students thrive, we have to move past ‘the way we have always done it,’ and create better learning experiences for our students than we had ourselves. This does not mean replacing everything we do, but we must be willing to look with fresh eyes at what we do and ask, ‘Is there a better way?'”

Teaching entrepreneurship in schools is one way. It will help students gain transferable skills they can use to play the career game well, no matter what the future throws at them. Undertaking the entrepreneurial journey early on will prepare them for this game. They’ll still get hit by a ball here and there. But, they will always dodge the wrench.


Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com by Oskar Cymerman

5 Things the World Cup Teaches Us About Entrepreneurship

5 Things the World Cup Teaches Us About Entrepreneurship

All eyes are on the World Cup, the world’s biggest sporting event. Thanks to social technologies and digital media, the global soccer (or fútbol, depending on your location) community shared millions of pieces of content, including more than 140 million related Google searches, before a single match was played.

World Cup fans are no longer confined to experiencing the games within their direct community. Rather, this audience taps social platforms like Twitter to share real-time reactions, VSCO (full disclosure – VSCO is an Accel-backed company) to share beautiful images of the sport and Facebook to express patronage with other fans (and foes) on a global scale.

Entrepreneurs can learn a lot from how the World Cup has brilliantly navigated the evolving media landscape in support of a more technical audience. Soccer’s global governing association FIFA, advertisers, teams and fans are brought closer together as information transcends borders and demographics in real-time. That brings big opportunities for companies small and large.

Globalization has impacted the FIFA fan community and entrepreneurship at large. Soccer talent has long come from all corners of the world. Teams from dozens of countries compete at the World Cup. Similarly, entrepreneurship has broken through geographic boundaries, thanks to social media, venture capital investment and technology. Entrepreneurs with winning startup ideas are surfacing from nations big and small.

Here are five specific lessons that the World Cup can teach us about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.

1. Embrace change. This year, FIFA integrated new digital media and technology to promote the event and increase anticipation. When compared to the last two World Cup events (2006 and 2010), mobile adoption has skyrocketed to become the primary means of communications for the “mobile-first” generation.

The World Cup’s adaptation to new technology and consumer trends is an example for entrepreneurs who must continually understand customer behaviors to remain relevant. Startups must be prepared to iterate a product, service or entire business roadmap based on new trends and customer trends.

2. Utilize engaging content. We’ve seen outstanding content from the World Cup and its advertisers. A steady cadence of visual, engaging content that solicits deep emotional ties to the event and individual teams amplifies anticipation. Ideas that spread are emotional. Only companies that touch a person’s heart will touch a customer’s pocketbook.

If you haven’t already, watch the “Game before the Game” video from Beats, which solicits an emotional connection to the World Cup and the Beats brand.

Start by understanding which channels your customers acquire information. Develop content that appeals to their needs. Determine the real pain your widget solves and base your company’s content strategy on that, not what you think will work. Beats found a way to add value to the World Cup conversation through entertaining content, not the other way around.

3. Build a community. Soccer fans are among the most passionate sporting enthusiasts in the world. They eagerly come back with more energy and enthusiasm than ever, even after waiting four years between World Cup events.

Similarly, social media enables young companies to build devout communities through a shared passion around a product or service. Entrepreneurs who focus on individual customer desires will build a long-term social following. This following fuels the growth of passionate online and ‘offline’ customer communities.

4. Leverage the ecosystem. FIFA recognizes the vast community of people who are passionate about the very sport its organization represents. Similarly, major sponsors like Nike and Kia Motors view the World Cup as an opportunity to position their brand in meaningful way to soccer fans worldwide.

Entrepreneurs typically have a much smaller community but keep in mind that other stakeholders – think complementary businesses, media, analysts, customers from your competitor – exist in your startup’s ecosystem. Identify those within your community who share your vision. Develop mutually beneficial and creative partnerships. Expand your influence by supporting your industry’s ecosystem.

5. Expand your network. The World Cup is a global phenomenon linking a global community drawn from every nation and demographic. Entrepreneurs often find themselves surrounded by like-minded people. That often jeopardizes growth opportunities by leveraging a small eco-chamber. The best startups think outside of their direct surrounding, and understand how, where, when and why people value their company. While not always convenient, embrace an unfamiliar community and find a way to get true product feedback.

You may never make it to a World Cup game, let alone play for a professional soccer team, but the lessons that have made the event a global spectacle for nearly 90 years can help guide an entrepreneurs’ growth, influence and success.


Originally posted on Entrepreneur.com by Ryan Sweeney

5 Entrepreneurs Who Started With Nothing – and 3 Lessons to Learn

5 Entrepreneurs Who Started With Nothing – and 3 Lessons to Learn

It’s not uncommon to hear about entrepreneurs who used the wealth they made from a previous endeavor to build a thriving new startup, or about seasoned business owners who took over a decades-old franchise and transformed it into something new. These stories are inspiring in their own way; but to me, it’s even more inspiring to hear about people who started with nothing.
These are entrepreneurs who started their journey with no capital, no funding and sometimes no education or experience, yet despite the odds were still able to build massive successes.

How did these people accomplish such unlikely feats, and what can we, as entrepreneurs, learn from them?

1. John Paul DeJoria

John Paul DeJoria isn’t as much of a household name as Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, but he has accomplished feats of entrepreneurship and business management that rival theirs. Starting out as a newspaper courier, and working as a janitor and tow truck driver to make ends meet, DeJoria eventually started working at a hair care company, where he met Paul Mitchell.

With a loan of just $700, the two of them started a business that turned into the conglomerate now known as John Paul Mitchell Systems. Later, DeJoria co-founded Patron Spirits, and was a founding partner of the House of Blues chain. Today, he’s worth more than $3.1 billion.

2. Kevin Plank

Kevin Plank, the CEO of the fitness apparel company Under Armour, was pretty much broke when he started selling signature clothing under the Under Armour brand. He took all the cash he had saved, about $20,000, and racked up an additional $40,000 of credit card debt to fund the company.

Soon after, he made a landmark sale of $17,000 to Georgia Tech University, and in a wave of momentum, made sales to two dozen NFL teams. From there, he went on, in just a few years, to cultivate millions in sales and hire hundreds of employees. Today, Under Armour does nearly $2 billion in retail sales, and has 5,900 employees.

3. Jan Koum

Jan Koum, the founder of WhatsApp, was born in a small village near Kiev in Ukraine. Coming from poverty, Koum’s family emigrated to California, and Koum started learning about computers in his spare time. By the time he was 18, he had developed impressive skills, and in 1997, he was hired by Yahoo! as an infrastructure engineer.

He spent a decade in that industry before realizing the huge potential of the app industry in 2009 and starting WhatsApp Inc. By 2014, WhatsApp had become enormously popular. Facebook bought the app for a staggering $19 billion.

4. Sam Walton

It’s almost ironic that Walmart is frequently criticized for underpaying its employees and using cutthroat tactics to maximize profits. Sam Walton, Walmart’s founder, had almost nothing to his name himself when he started his first general store back in 1945.

He relied on a $25,000 loan from his father-in-law to fund that initial purchase, and was an instant success in the retail industry. The first official Walmart was opened in 1962, in Rogers, Ark.; and by 1976, Walmart was worth more than $176 million. At one point, Walton was considered the wealthiest man in the United States.

5. George Soros

Though you could describe him as an investor more than an entrepreneur, there are few better rags-to-riches stories than that of George Soros. When Soros was a teenager in Hungary in 1947, he fled Nazi persecution to live in England. Despite having little money to fund his efforts, he attended the London School of Economics, working his way through university to obtain his degree. He then moved to the United States in the 1950s, and became an investment manager for a number of major firms, eventually starting his own hedge fund and building his own company.

His most famous move was shorting the British pound in the early 1990s — which made him $1 billion in a single day.

Key lessons to learn

So what can we learn from these entrepreneurial stories?

Debt is a viable option. Debt is scary to take on, especially when your idea isn’t a sure bet, but almost everyone on this list got a loan at some point to establish early momentum. As long as you have a plan to pay it back, debt can be a valuable tool.

Invest in yourself. You need to invest in yourself before you invest in anything else, by focusing on improving your skills, education and experience. Without self-investment, you won’t be able to build a business, let alone sustain one.

Look to the future. These savvy entrepreneurs didn’t enter a market that already existed; they created new ones, or made bets on how current markets would evolve. Future-focused strategies always win out over present-focused ones.

Entrepreneurs can come from humble beginnings, so long as they’re willing to work hard, commit to their ideas and take the risks necessary to see those ideas become reality. Take inspiration from the massive successes who have come before you, and don’t let a lack of money or experience dissuade you from following your dreams.


Originally posted on Entrepreneur by Jayson DeMers


7 Signs You’ve Got An Entrepreneurial Mind

7 Signs You’ve Got An Entrepreneurial Mind

It’s true—entrepreneurship isn’t cut out for everyone.

It requires a rare kind of tenacity and independence, a willingness to initiate and persevere through doubt and uncertainty.

While entrepreneurship will test you, it can also be incredibly rewarding. I’ve experienced my own journey as my single most powerful interface for personal growth.

If you’re considering entrepreneurship and you think you’ve got what it takes, I’ve created a list of seven traits that you can be sure will serve you well in this fast-paced environment.

To help me create the list, I consulted fellow entrepreneur Adam Rivietz, the co-founder and CSO of world-leading influencer marketing firm #Paid. #Paid connects top influencers with top brands including Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Audi, Airbnb, and Visa using an artificial intelligence algorithm. Its database empowers over 15,000 influencers across 105 different countries to monetize their content and communities.

 On the latest episode of my podcast Unconventional Life, Rivietz opens up about what’s made him personally successful. Read on for our list of seven unmistakable signs you’ve got an entrepreneurial mind to see if entrepreneurship could be for you.

1. Your Gears Began Spinning Early. One common denominator of nearly every successful entrepreneur I’ve spoken to is that the gears of their “business mind” began spinning at a very young age. Designer eyewear brand Ellison founder Aristotle Loumis launched a “chores” business at age ten where he agreed to do his friends’ chores three times a week for $7 a visit. Word for this too-good-to-be-true service quickly spread beyond his circle of friends and soon, he had enough clients to make $500 a week. “My family didn’t have the most growing up but we prided ourselves on the fact that we worked so hard,” he says.

2. You Know How To Spot Trends. Entrepreneurs are constantly taking the pulse of their surroundings and looking for ways to satisfy rising demands. I remember in the summer of 2011 I noticed a wave of girls in my area wearing feathers in their hair. I decided to buy thousands of dollars worth of hair feathers from the fly fishing shops in my area to sell to salons online. Within weeks, my gut instinct turned out to be right; all of the fly fishing shops in the midwest were out of stock of feathers and I suddenly had a five-figure business on my hands.

3. You Think On A Big Scale. Where a “rational” or “practical” mind might seek to avoid risk and play on a more manageable scale, the entrepreneurial mind sees grand potential.

Case in point—Rivietz’ model for #Paid was tested on just one influencer before he expanded his service to tens of thousands. His first client was a girl he knew from high school who amassed 75,000 followers in a year. “We reached out to her and said, ‘we want to be your talent agency, let us help you.’ When we got her paid we said ok, our idea is validated now let’s find more influencers. We reached out to 700 more influencers on Instagram who had an email in their bio and within one week 500 of them said they were interested,” Rivietz reflects.

4. You Surround Yourself With Motivators. In the famous words of Tim Ferriss, “You are the average of the five people you most associate with.” Successful entrepreneurs know that having negative influences in your life can powerfully detract from your vision. Rivietz says, “You want to surround yourself with tailwinds, not headwinds. When a plane flies, it can cut a lot of time if it happens to get tailwinds that push it in the right direction forward. Headwinds make the plane take longer to get to its destination. Surround yourself with tailwinds—people who are gonna support you and motivate you—and you’ll reach your goal quicker.”

5. You Know How To Leverage Relationships. The average consumer is four times more likely to buy a product when referred by a friend. Great entrepreneurs live by this principle and are able to leverage the power of social networks to sell their products.

Zuckerberg’s Facebook spread like wildfire because it let its users take care of its referrals. Likewise, Rivietz’ #paid monetizes the relationship between influencer marketers and their audiences.

6. You’re A Rapid Executioner. One of the skills I emphasize at my business accelerator programs for entrepreneurs is that of rapid execution. You wouldn’t believe how many people wait an extraneous amount of time to get in action around the things they want to create.

The mark of a true entrepreneur is that they’re willing to say “yes, our doors are open for business,” far sooner than most would. This doesn’t mean they’re brash; on the contrary, they’re calculating the opportunity cost of waiting too long. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve whipped up a sales page on a night’s notice; that’s because entrepreneurs follow the 80/20 principle and seize the day.

7. You’re A Visionary. Entrepreneurs are experts at dreaming up ways to make things more efficient. Where others see limitations, they see possibility. Jobs’ famous iPod innovation with its “1,000 songs in your pocket” struck 2001 by surprise.

According to entrepreneur Zach Benson, being a visionary means having conviction that you can make what you desire a reality. “Lifestyle by design is real,” he says. “I work with hundreds of influencers on Instagram. People are actually living these lives even though what you see on Instagram seems impossible. I always dreamt of living this lifestyle… Fast forward today I have made it into a reality.”


Originally posted on Forbes by Jules Schroeder


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