TBS.02.18.16Gary Vaynerchuk says entrepreneurs are born, not made. We disagree! Early exposure to the entrepreneurial mindset can be the difference between young minds knowing that entrepreneurial success is possible and never finding out. Sometimes something happens at a very early age that opens the door to entrepreneurship as a valid alternative. What is that?

The Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education (EntreED) promoted Congress to designate the last week of February to answer that very question. Dr. Gene Coulson, the organization’s Executive Director, has some educational programs he is encouraging. He wants to make young people aware of entrepreneurship as a career alternative in grades K-12.

Sure, in kindergarten and the 1st grade it might be just a definition of what entrepreneurship is, how to spell it, and how it’s distinguished from employment. Exposure progresses and by the time the students are in middle school and high school, they will be aware of entrepreneurship as an option for their future. The key is every student learning more about entrepreneurship every year.

Some of the groups he works with encourage high school students to get involved in a business plan and other types of entrepreneurship competitions. Others bring in real entrepreneurs for the young folks to see, hear, and question. They thus expose the students to successful entrepreneurs who overcame their risk adversity, solved a problem, and improved the community.

Gene feels strongly that it’s the entrepreneurial mindset that really distinguishes the true entrepreneur from the business school students learning form and function. And that mindset can be encouraged at an early age. He says young folks need to take inventory of challenges and problems within their own communities, see them as opportunities, and imagine ways to solve them. Encouraging young people to begin to notice these problems and ask, “Who else do these problems effect?” is the beginning of ideation.

One member of EntreEd is the Generation E Institute which is promoting the “Entrepreneurs Interview” during National Entrepreneurship Week. During the event, middle school and high school students have the opportunity to meet local entrepreneurs and business owners. Smaller groups of students ask them questions in an informal conversational setting, then explain what they have learned to others.

This approach incorporates social skills, writing, communication, and public speaking – all essential entrepreneurial skills in themselves. But the contacts these students make will also become opportunities for future job prospects, mentor relationships, and community goodwill. Check out more ideas for the Generation E Curricula for K through 12 in Teaching Success: New Directions in Entrepreneurial Education.

We love this whole concept! These young people grow up thinking of entrepreneurship as a valid alternative rather than something reserved for the elite or well born. We feel that the entrepreneurial mindset can be taught and with that education comes the courage to take risks and see ideas through to success. It can help young people look at problems as opportunities and can give them the communication, social, and other skills necessary to engage and empower others to make their ideas a reality.

Gene is promoting these K-12 programs in the rural parts of Appalachia. Instead of resistance to these ideas, he was met with enthusiastic support. With the demise of the coal mining culture, the community has welcomed these programs. “Entrepreneurship is the only hope for this region,” they say.

Big companies and industries come and go. And when they do go, like coal in Appalachia, those who have been dependent on them for employment will be looking for solutions. Perhaps those solutions are in our schools right now! Let’s take out an insurance policy on our future. Let’s celebrate National Entrepreneurship Week by supporting ideas like those encouraged by EntreEd to build some great entrepreneurs!

Who We Are.

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey Barefoot Wine Founders

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.

They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.

Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at www.consumerbrandbuilders.com.

To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact sales@thebarefootspirit.com.