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How to Teach Students to Be Entrepreneurs

Jennifer Taylor, Vice President, U.S. Jobs, Consumer Technology Association (CTA)

Small businesses are the backbone of the United States economy, comprising 99.7 percent of the nation’s businesses and employing almost half of all U.S. workers. But most schools do not teach entrepreneurship as part of the standard curriculum.

That’s why the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and EVERFI established CTA’s Future Innovators program in 2015. The program teaches high school students how to apply math and creative skills to think entrepreneurially about business. The program enables students to use an interactive digital platform called Venture-Entrepreneurial Expedition™, powered by EVERFI – a leading technology company on the front lines of education's evolution – to create a business from scratch.

Students learn how to generate business ideas and concepts, conduct market research, build effective teams and hire the right employees with required skills, create marketing and business plans, develop a budget and craft a compelling, concise business pitch.

On Nov. 2 in Las Vegas, the Future Innovators program held its third-annual pitch contest for Clark County, NV, school district students who completed the entrepreneurship program. Seventeen high school teams competed, pitching a panel of judges on their business ideas including a stress-relieving app and a coding program for parents. The three winners (pictured below) now advance to the final round in January.

Exposure to entrepreneurship and simulated business learning is traditionally introduced at the college level. But by teaching entrepreneurship much earlier, as with the CTA Future Innovators program, tomorrow’s college students may discover a passion for entrepreneurship or decide to pursue a business degree – paths that may not have occurred to them without this classroom study.

(Three teams from CTA’s Future Innovators program advanced to the final pitch competition in January) Photo provided by EVERFI

One lesson for all future business leaders – entrepreneurs aren’t always born with the confidence, grit and risk tolerance that comes with the territory. But people can learn how to be entrepreneurs. And what better time to introduce this career option than during high school?

CTA is dedicated to building the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators, a key step in closing the critical skills gap our country faces. CTA supports the growth of entrepreneurs through education, collaboration and mentoring – and Eureka Park at CES® 2018 will feature over 800 startups from around the world showing off their cutting-edge innovations. In this vein, CTA’s new U.S. Jobs team is leading initiatives to reduce the number of unfilled, high-skilled positions in the tech industry.