by Ted Dacko
This country was founded on entrepreneurship going back centuries from Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford to Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos. But we still have many failures in entrepreneurship. Most estimates show that 90% of start-ups don’t make it. And, while we have learned to accept failure, it is incumbent upon us to reduce the failure rate and increase the success rate in entrepreneurship. Did you know that 72% of high school students have considered starting their own business, yet 62% are never offered a course in entrepreneurship? High school students are our most underutilized creative resource — if we can successfully engage their talents, we’ll unlock innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. So, how can we better encourage their entrepreneurial ambitions?
Confucius said: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” Getting students to better understand the real issues of entrepreneurship earlier can address a portion of the failure problem and lead to solving our countries problems. We need our youth to learn to develop ideas, pitch those ideas and compete for the limited funds available to support those ideas. This is as essential as involvement in high school sports, only the stakes are much higher.
High school principals are in a unique position to help support this initiative. They have access to the power and resources that can direct teachers and students toward better student education and participation in entrepreneurial ventures. But it does not need to be resource intensive. There are ways to provide this education and participation simply. For instance, informing students of virtual pitch competitions and encouraging these students to develop an idea and pitch it are absolutely free and easy to do. Many schools not only encourage students to participate but also provide credit to students who do participate. Or, they will imbed these competitions in associated curriculum offered by the high school. These schools have high participation rates and could offer better outcomes to their students. plus, the students can include their participation on college applications. Or, better yet, these students can take these ideas and pitches and actually turn them into entrepreneurial ventures.
One such pitch completion is the Blue Ocean Student Entrepreneur Pitch Competition. This is an international, student-led and virtual competition that is associated with the best-selling business books Blue Ocean Strategy and Blue Ocean Shift by Dr. Chan Kim and Dr. Renée Mauborgne. These books are often required reading in college business (and even engineering) courses. Since the competition is virtual, all the student (or student teams) need to do is create a 3–5 minute video pitch for their idea and submit it online. The competition offers a team of nationwide professional entrepreneurs who judge the competition and the pitches. Students can win prize money ($1,000 for first, $750 for second, $500 for third and $750 for the People’s Choice winner which is judged by likes on our YouTube channel). Plus, the high school is eligible to win $1,000 for having the most students submit a pitch (the top 3 high schools each get $1,000). And it’s free to students and schools!!!
The Blue Ocean Student Entrepreneur Corp. is a registered 501c3 and funding is provided by corporate sponsors who do not advertise directly to students. Sponsorship is totally based on doing good.
These competitions have outstanding content for high school students to learn more about entrepreneurship and help them hone their entrepreneurial skills. And there is no work at all for the high schools, the teachers or the principals except to make students aware of the competition. The Blue Ocean competition even offers promotional materials to help the principal and teachers with the promotional efforts.
Promoting and education high school students on entrepreneurship is essential to our economic future. Forward thinking high school principals can be a part of the solution simply by taking steps to promote competitions in their schools. These steps are simple and do not require resources. The students benefit, the teachers benefit, the highs schools benefit and the community benefits. What more can a high school principal ask for?