We need entrepreneurs, not meatheads

Why don’t local high schools, colleges, and universities teach students how to run a business before they jump into the work world?

Schools teach business components, like marketing, accounting, economics and finance, but they don’t show students how to build the whole business enchilada for themselves. There are entire schools that teach students how to make a career in government, and how to prepare them to work for others. How about teaching students how to be their own boss? How about setting them on the road to entrepreneurship and running a small business?

Today’s students have all kinds of bad choices they can make for majors. Hoover Institute Fellow Harvey Mansfield says Sociology is one of those “meathead” majors, along with other “close competitors” in the social sciences, like political science, and the humanities. But why should these “counterfeit majors”, which teach you almost nothing about how to make a living, be offered by schools when they could be teaching a real career?

The curriculum would be refreshing. The instructors would begin by telling the students how they can acquire knowledge or experience in a particular type of endeavor or small business, or ally themselves with others who know. They should be taught something about the entrepreneurial spirit. They need the know-how to open an enjoyable business, perhaps with partners; learning how might require entrepreneurial effort.

Then, students must be taught to do basic market analysis, to determine where sufficient demand might exist in their region for the product or service their small business would offer.

Students would have schooling in how to prepare a business plan that works, and how to create an income and expense budget that’s realistic, especially how to determine how much capital will be needed to get the business off the ground. Ways to obtain sufficient capital would be explored other than dad’s wallet, like working awhile to save enough money to stride out on their own.

The kids would learn telephone manners and how to conduct themselves in public settings. They would hear the basics of business dress and grooming, and learn that tattoos and metal body trinkets don’t fly well in a business setting. They would be taught can-do attitudes, and the basics of how to grade and fire employees. They would need a class in business writing and public speaking, perhaps even the art of persuasion. Other areas of instruction might be bookkeeping, public relations, banking relationships, managing workers– especially those who misbehave–and how payroll works. They would be told where to go to understand what government regulations and taxes small businesses must deal with, and how to handle workers and unemployment comp.

They might role-play policies for dealing with difficult customers, and keeping good customers happy. Misbehaving kids would be dismissed from the program.

I bet there are many parents who would love to see their kids go through major coursework like this.

One definition of entrepreneurship is “the art of transforming nothing into something.” So, how about it, school board members and college trustees? Young people are our future. Why not take Florida’s students who are not destined to become scientists, doctors and engineers, and offer them practical instruction on how to think like an entrepreneur and how to run a small

John R. Smith

John R. Smith

John R. Smith is chairman of BIZPAC, the Business Political Action Committee of Palm Beach County, and owner of a financial services company.
John R. Smith

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