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Is Entrepreneurship the Great Equalizer? (910 hits)


So, I'm surfing the Internet, trying to access some links on entrepreneurship, when I become reacquainted with Steve Mariotti's National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, or NFTE. NFTE, now known as the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, is a nonprofit organization that trains teachers and other adult professionals to teach at-risk adolescents how to start and operate their own business enterprises.

I first became a NFTE fan in the mid 1990s. At the time I was employed as the Staff Development and Information Coordinator with a large behavioral health organization in Knoxville, Tennessee. Even though I was primarily responsible for overseeing some of the organization's internal training initiatives, I continued to hold on to my desire to positively impact the lives of children and youths. Unfortunately for me, my primary responsibilities prevented me from convincing senior management that the NFTE program should be one of the organization's service offerings.

But even after all of these years, I often wonder if entrepreneurship is the great equalizer. Historically, this designation has been reserved for education, largely due to the belief that knowledge is power. I agree with this belief, that a quality education is the great equalizer, but I also believe an introduction to entrepreneurial principles has the power to encourage disadvantaged youths to be more than who they thought they could be. I write such a statement because young entrepreneurs learn how to make money for themselves through the power of their ideas.

There are times when I think the expression of these ideas is being muffled by the American public educational system. These days, teachers seem to be teaching students how to do well on End-of-Year and End-of-Grade tests rather than tap into and exercise their creativity. Consequently, many students go through school lacking the love for learning that one needs to make above-average to excellent grades.

What NFTE's success should show us adults is adolescents have a better appreciation for the educational process after they have tasted the fruits of their labor as entrepreneurs. Can you blame them? I know I can't, especially when I begin to understand these same adolescents' need to engage in "adult" money-making endeavors. Through entrepreneurship, these adolescents position themselves to be more prosperous than their parents because they learn early that one should never be content with just being another person's employee. They should also crave the freedom that comes with being employers.

My hope is more nonprofit organizations will develop and offer more community-based youth entrepreneurship development projects. But I don't think these projects should focus exclusively on ventures that place money in their small business' coffers. I also think they should start and operate ventures that add value to the community at large.

I am trying to do this through The MediaWorks Project, which requires that I teach youths between the ages of 10 and 14 how to conceive, produce, publish, market and sell their own children's picture books. My pilot group had yet to complete its first book project, but when it does, I'm confident my project participants will have the knowledge and know-how to make money to give a portion of it away (in the form of mini-grants) to area nonprofit organizations.

What do you think? Is entrepreneurship the great equalizer?

I look forward to reading your responses.

From FAULKERSON FOCUS by Jeffery A. Faulkerson, MSSW
http://faulkersonfocus.blogspot.com
http://jefferyafaulkerson.com
Posted By: J. A. Faulkerson
Thursday, December 30th 2010 at 1:36AM
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Jeffery,
This is a wonderful endeavor that you're involved with because our youth desperately need to know how to own and run their own business. I look at it as the next progression from wanting a job, to wanting to be a boss on the job, to wanting to own the job itself. We have to make our yout undertand that getting a job at someone elses company puts them at risk of be expendable when times get tough. However, according to the Small Business Association, most businesses fail. The statistics are listed below:

The Small Business Administration (SBA) keeps the stats on business failures and claims that more than half of new businesses will disappear in the first five years.

3. Statistics show that 8 out of 10 new businesses fail within the first three years.

4. A study done by Inc. magazine and the National Business Incubator Association (NBIA) revealed that 80 percent of new businesses fail within the first five years.

5. 80% of new businesses fail within their first year.

Given these dire statistics one should go into buisness with the clear understanding that the chances of they succeeding are very small. Therefore they should do like a lot of other people and not quit their day job until they are really on their feet. The most important thing that they will need to understand is that marketing of their product will be critical. So if they can't write a clear business plan that has a very tight Marketing section they the business probably will never get off the ground. There are always exceptions to this if someone finds a niche that hasn't been exploited yet. But other than that the taxes alone will kill you. What we need to do is find a way for businesses to be more successful than they usually are. Young businesses need a support system that gives them proper advice and resources.


Saturday, January 1st 2011 at 4:25PM
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