Entrepreneurship and the STEM subjects are a perfect combination.
Entrepreneurship is a cross-disciplinary pursuit that helps students think outside of the box, fuels innovation, and encourages individual curiosity. STEM equips students with the knowledge to implement their most creative business ideas.
Entrepreneurship as a Process of Constant Improvment
PittMoss is an agricultural business that recently sat down to record a webinar with STEM Jobs (that would be great to show in your classroom!), and their conversation contained a number of valuable entrepreneurship lessons that you can pass along to your students. Here are just a few of them:
- Look at something as common as a smartphone and think about the entire life cycle of that everyday item. What materials is it made of? How were those materials harvested or created? Where were each of the components made? What had to happen to get that product from a factory into their hands? What happens to it when they throw it away? What toxins are released into the environment? And finally, how could that process be improved?
- Use the resources you already have at your disposal instead of going into debt. Resourcefulness is critical in entrepreneurship and in the process of coming up with better ideas.
- Ask lots of questions and seek out people who know more about a subject than you do.
- Expand on what’s already been accomplished instead of starting entirely from scratch.
- The work doesn’t end with the launch of the business—it’s a continual process to make the product better.
Entrepreneurial skills are learned through practice and the process of trial and error. Have students experiment with their own business ideas to develop a better understanding of how entrepreneurship works.
Ask Students to Design a Business
This allows students to explore and identify potential ideas without risk. Have them write up a basic business plan, emphasizing reflection on potential problems they might run across if they were to actually start such an enterprise in real life. The website $100 Startup has a slimmed down, one-page business plan available for download along with other entrepreneurship resources. Students will answer basic questions about their business concept, such as “Who are the main customers?” and “How will they market the business?”
Once students feel comfortable with their business plans, put their products and services to the test. A simple way to do this is to have them write a few survey questions to gauge possible consumer reactions to the idea. Then have students distribute their questionnaires to the rest of the class or other friends and family members. Feedback is valuable because even negative responses contain key information. Do the most positive respondents have anything in common? This kind of data can help pinpoint target markets.
Seeing and hearing about the real change that entrepreneurship enacts on the world might motivate students to take an active interest in business. Most successful entrepreneurs rely on a network of other individuals to make their ideas a reality. Mentors can talk to students about the challenges of starting and running a business and offer practical advice. Mentors can be found in the local business scene, at networking and startup events, or even through social media.
Want to enable students to learn skills that will make them better entrepreneurs? Read on about promoting financial literacy in the classroom here.