Who is a typical entrepreneur?
- An older experienced white man?
- An executive with wealth to invest, substantial experience and contacts in a specific industry?
- A math or tech guy who wears thick glasses?
- A high school junior and her close friends with a vision and passion for innovation and tinkering with ideas?
Increasingly, the last option is driving our economy and job growth, if not today, definitely tomorrow. The first three stereotypes of traditional entrepreneurs have formed some deeply rooted perceptions that could be slowing down small business startups.
Its important to understand that entrepreneurship and business development is something many of us can do. In fact this career path is one of the most rewarding ones out there – and it’s available to those with the passion and drive across a wide variety of skill sets.
Regardless if you see yourself as an entrepreneur or not, there’s no denying the importance of small businesses in our economy its impact on our standard of living.
Here are some facts:
- 95% of businesses in the United States are small businesses
- 100% of large businesses in the United States started as small ones
- Small businesses drive 46% of United States Gross Domestic Product
- Most new businesses leverage existing ideas – they’re not brand new inventions but more often refinements and integration
There’s been plenty of research around when and how young people make decisions about career choices. More and more that research points to primary and high school as critical times for these decisions. Perceptions that entrepreneurs don’t look like them decrease the number of students who see themselves in those roles.
How do we fix that?
The number one thing we can do to is break down stereotypes and show students how new businesses start while they’re still in school. The best way to do that is to have them roll up their sleeves and start something – anything.
Like any hand-on experience it’s always good to have a guide. The good news is that there are entrepreneurs everywhere – and most are more than willing to help. Combining the natural open mindedness of students with the experience of those who have started businesses is a powerful combination that’s hard to beat.
As a result students realize:
- Starting new ventures can be fun and rewarding
- There is no cookie-cutter or prototype of an entrepreneur
- The time to start is now
Taking students through this process builds the pipeline of new business developers. We help them while improving prospects for our local and national economy.
Ken Johnson is the Founder of BizGen. BizGen is an entrepreneurial competition focused on high school students. BizGen’s competitive entrepreneurial pitch format is designed to light that fire in students, allowing them to see themselves as business developers. Developing ideas, working in teams to refine them, access to coaches and mentors who help guide their way – all create that special experience. Pitching those ideas to seasoned judges and a live audience for the chance to win funding ties it all together. It turns out the experience isn’t just exciting and entertaining, its impactful.