Five ways you can inspire budding entrepreneurs | Feature in The Guardian Newspaper

Five ways you can inspire budding entrepreneurs | Feature in The Guardian Newspaper

Few school students have ambitions to start a business, but entrepreneurs can change that. Here’s how to invest in the next generation of startup founders

Starting a business is an unpopular career choice among school pupils – 78% of young people aged 15-18 have no interest in doing so, according to a recent YouGov survey, commissioned by Google. But, as a business owner, you have the power to motivate the future generation of founders.

Entrepreneurship still remains on the fringes of education. It is, at best, an after-school activity or club for the academically gifted. While initiatives like these should be commended, more needs to done to engage all pupils – not just the most academic.

So how can today’s entrepreneurs help the entrepreneurs of the future?

1. Go back to school and give a talk
I’m the founder of a social enterprise (UltraEducation) that teaches primary and secondary school children about business. Since launching in 2014, we’ve connected hundreds of CEOs and small business owners with schools. Many of these entrepreneurs enjoyed going back to school because it gave them a chance to inspire pupils who may feel lost or disengaged with formal education.

If you’d like to give a talk at your old school, or a local one, try contacting the head teacher and offering your time – you could even give a speech in the school assembly. You might need to be Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checked before you can visit a school, which can take a few weeks to be processed. However, each school will have their own procedures. My biggest tip would be to resist the temptation to bore the pupils with a lengthy slide show presentation. Instead, give them an honest insight into the exciting, challenging and often unpredictable experience of being an entrepreneur.

2. Become a mentor
Many young entrepreneurs struggle to find a confidant with business experience who’ll donate time to helping them turn their startup ambitions to reality. By volunteering just a few hours of your time each month, you could set a young person on the path to starting their own business.

Schools often have mentoring schemes in place. However, opportunities for pupils to have one-to-one business mentoring is lacking. To mentor a school pupil you will need to be DBS checked. I’d advise contacting your local schools to see where you might be able to help in this area.

3. Offer work experience

Giving a young person the opportunity to see first-hand how a business works is invaluable. But don’t just ask them to get the tea in; really give them an insight into what running a company involves. Ask them to shadow you to a meeting or two, to take notes and to share their opinions. Young people are yearning to be valued and heard, so give them that chance.

Every school and further education college has a careers department whose job it is to go and source work experience opportunities for students. In some cases, though, there are too many children for the number of employers who get involved.

4. Volunteer at workshops
If you don’t have the time to set up something, you can get involved in existing events. There are a number of organisations around the UK that put on events and workshops to encourage young people into entrepreneurship. These organisations often rely on people in the business community volunteering their time to provide the experience and expertise young people need.

MADE festival, for example, which is held annually in Sheffield, runs a Young Entrepreneurs Club in the city that meets every two weeks. There are also opportunities with other organisations like the charity Young Enterprise.

5. Teach entrepreneurship
If you are given the opportunity to teach school students, you may wish to develop your own courses. If that’s the case, I would recommend focusing on areas that are not just essential to starting a business, but also reinforce other core academic subjects.

To understand profit and loss and develop financial skills, having a good grasp of maths is essential. But, rather than focusing on times tables and sums, an entrepreneurial class should aim to teach maths in the context of running a business. Experiment with music and YouTube videos to bring lessons to life and always remember your goal is to make the subject relevant to the real world.

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Julian ‘The Ultrapreneur’ Hall is a serial entrepreneur and #1 best selling author of ‘Entrepreneur to Ultrapreneur‘. The founder of UltraEducation, a company that teaches entrepreneurship in primary (@UltraKidsClub) and secondary schools. 

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