BEING THE ENTREPRENEUR OF YOUR LIFE

First published by Springside Chestnut Hill in March 2022

Let’s face it. The world faces enormous problems. The pace of change is accelerating. Technology is rapidly advancing every industry, and the impact of globalization is increasing. We are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic and facing unprecedented climate challenges. The pace of change is not likely to slow down, and with it will come new problems that need to be solved and new needs to be fulfilled. 

So, how are we going to solve these challenges, and who will lead us into the future? We all certainly have a part, but mainly it’s going to fall on today’s students, tomorrow’s leaders—hopefully, bright, entrepreneurially minded leaders equipped to solve big problems.

As educators, it’s our job to equip today’s students to be the “entrepreneurs of their lives”—to use their skills, initiative, and, most importantly, a strong “entrepreneurial mindset” to solve problems, build innovative solutions, and help make the world a better place. If we’re going to bring about positive change, entrepreneurs need to be everywhere, embedded in the threads of companies, government, non-profits, and all types of organizations. 

We all have the potential to be entrepreneurs, whether in big or small ways, if we look at problems around us, recognize opportunities to solve those problems, take action, and build community. 

For our students, we can encourage this approach by helping them focus on and develop the key traits and characteristics of entrepreneurial thinking. What if they were more curious, resilient, and apt to take action? What if they were more likely to seek opportunities, use creative problem solving, and have more resilience and resourcefulness? And what if they were more creative, more communicative, more collaborative? What might be the positive outcomes?

The result should be more individuals equipped with the tools to see problems, recognize opportunities, develop creative solutions, take action, and more. If done well, there will be more students able to collaborate, experiment more, go out of their comfort zone, and persevere even when things look tough. 
 
This is why Drexel University created a new school, the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship, to help college students become the entrepreneurs of their lives. The first school at a university fully dedicated to teaching this subject, it goes broader and deeper into entrepreneurial skill development, with the fostering of an entrepreneurial mindset at its core. Part of our vision at Close is that every student at Drexel will have at least an appreciation of entrepreneurship. We also want students to “start something” and be ready to launch their careers in any size organization with the skills to tackle the problems of today and tomorrow. 

To achieve this, we focus on helping students develop what we call their “power skills.” Using a tool called the Entrepreneurial Mindset Profile, we help them develop an entrepreneurial personality—characterized by self-confidence, optimism, proactivity, and passion—and a set of skills, including persistence, future focus, flexibility, and originality. 

None of these things is specifically focused on starting a business. While many of our students will do that, we’re really aiming to help them develop themselves, to build towards a career, and to use their skills to do great work, whether working on a startup, in a startup, or for an established organization. 

But maybe college isn’t early enough. That’s why the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy is committed to developing an entrepreneurial mindset and skillset in its students, Pre-K-12. The CEL program enhances the school’s liberal arts curriculum with learning opportunities and classes that empower students to shape their futures and the world.

It’s impressive that SCH’s approach to entrepreneurship is essentially an approach to problem solving. Like our program at Drexel, the CEL program prioritizes the development of key traits that comprise the entrepreneurial mindset, including opportunity seeking, creative problem solving, resiliency, and resourcefulness. Equipped with this mindset, students are prepared to take on exciting challenges rooted in their passions and graduate with a competitive advantage. 

Educators and families alike can all find ways to educate, support, and develop the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders. This is why entrepreneurship programs such as those at Drexel and SCH are essential to empowering students to shape their futures and the world. 

There’s nothing more optimistic and empowering than being entrepreneurial. From their earliest years through to the start of their careers, we need to work on equipping our students with a mindset that enables them to face and solve the world’s most significant problems—the ones that will make the difference in our, and their, future.