Lessons for Entrepreneurial Success That Should Be Taught in High School

By Brian Scudamore, an EO Vancouver member and founder of O2E Brands

There is no shortage of high school and college dropouts who transformed themselves into business success stories – Richard Branson, Hootsuite’s Ryan Holmes, or Ikea’s Ingvar Kamprad, to name a few.

The fact that these titans of industry made it, despite their refusal to finish school, says to me that classrooms aren’t set up for future entrepreneurs. As a fellow dropout, I have often thought that if curriculum had included lessons in entrepreneurship I might have stuck it out.

My kids are approaching high school now, and it would be great if they were able to learn some lessons in entrepreneurship in the classroom. With that in mind, here are the three lessons for entrepreneurial success they don’t teach in school – but should.

Harness Your Daydreams

Daydreaming is usually discouraged in class – it detracts from fractions and grammar. But kids should learn to visualize their future, right along with studying math and history.

A few years ago, growth in my first company, 1-800-GOT-JUNK? plateaued. To get back on track, I went to my parent’s cabin and sat on the dock. There, I gave myself permission to dream about a future with no restrictions.

I came up with an audacious goal: expand to 30 of North America’s top cities within five years. Once I had a clear visual of my future, I was able to take steps to make it happen and now we have more than 150 franchises. If I hadn’t taken the time to set these goals, I never could have achieved them.

That’s why I’m working with my daughter’s school to install a “Can You Imagine?” wall, where students can write or draw their boldest plans and dreams. After all, what greater skill can we give children than the license and the resources to visualize their own futures?

Maximize Each of Your 24 Hours

According to The Wall Street Journal office workers waste an average of 40% of their workday. The findings show that they simply don’t have the organizational skills to cope. A simple way to combat that problem is by teaching time and project management in school, so people aren’t surprised when they enter the workforce.

My 10-year-old daughter has ski lessons, violin practice, gymnastics and plenty of friends – on top of all of her homework. Kids today are busier than ever but rarely get any insight into how to manage their time.

Showing them how to maximize their time now will help them in the careers later. Books like Tim Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Work Week are filled with strategies for working smarter, not harder – imagine if that were required reading in high school!

Embrace Your Inner Rebel

I was called “disruptive” by a lot of teachers. Now I know that having a penchant for adventure and a willingness to shake things up are essential traits to successful entrepreneurship – it’s how innovators are born.

Schools should allow for some “disruption”, harnessing energy instead of dampening it. This can be as simple as allowing students to move around the classroom or work elsewhere when they need to. It means encouraging kids when it comes thinking outside the box.

It’s true that some schools are slowly adapting their approach, and certain entrepreneurs are helping move them forward. Mark Zuckerberg – a college dropout himself – donated money to developing personalized learning programs tailored to individual needs and interests.

For the sake of the my children’s generation, here’s hoping some entrepreneurial lessons can be incorporated alongside math, science, and English.

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One Response to “ Lessons for Entrepreneurial Success That Should Be Taught in High School ”

  1. Ginna Frantz on

    I love the direction of this story. I am a seasoned entrepreneur who has launched 4 businesses. I would love to travel around the country to speak to HS kids about entrepreneurship and their futures. Kids are so open to suggestion. I truly think reaching HS kids are very reachable. YV3K

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