Steve Mariotti, Founder of the Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship Discusses the 5 Key Steps to Bring Entrepreneurship Education to your Classroom

Listen to this article

“Poverty is the worst form of violence”


What if I told you there was a way to bring an entire generation out of poverty?

Would you believe that simple classroom practices could elevate entire communities to a higher standard of living?

Steve Mariotti

I believe that entrepreneurship education holds the key to these incredible developments around the globe. And, in my almost 40-year career, I have seen firsthand how a few small changes in the classroom can help precipitate such change. I have written about it in scores of textbooks, I have talked about it at hundreds of conferences from Davos to the NFTE Teacher Summit, and today, I want to share five easy ways to bring it into your classroom.

1. Be The Business Guinea Pig! Be it a lemonade stand, a school bake sale, or a weekend tutoring business, any teacher, anywhere can get firsthand experience as by starting a small business today. Following the entrepreneur’s mantra of ‘buy low, sell high,’ try reselling something you have, whether its a product or a skill. I argue that the simple act of turning a profit is life-changing and will help you bring your students on the entrepreneurship journey with you.

2. Don’t Just Talk Problems…Talk Solutions. If your classroom is anything like mine was, your students will get excited talking about problems they see in their community. Is the soda machine always broken? Then let’s talk about selling sodas on a table set up down the hall. Once you get into the mindset of identifying problems and simple changes to help solve them, you and your students are already imagining a better future through enterprise!

3. Let The (Classroom) Market Decide. As solutions come up, have your students discuss how they might work. Would they sell soda at a markup from the machine’s price? Where would they buy the soda? Depending on the hurdles everyone identifies, some solutions will look more feasible than others. Try holding a contest to pick the best one.

4. Collaborate On A Plan. Divide your class into groups, with each one covering a different aspect of the business plan. You can do this quickly through the 20-minute method (see here) or a more traditional plan that covers all aspects of the business. The goal is to create a plan that the class can follow, which foresees problems that they’ll need to solve and how the business will operate.

5. There’s No Time Like The Present! At this point, you’ve tried your hand at selling for a profit, and you’ve worked with your class to think through a marketable solution to a problem experienced by the students. All that is left is to put the business plan into action. Remember: If the business requires some investment (think: buying products at wholesale or renting a space), the business plan that you already created will be your best tool to rally local entrepreneurs and trade associations behind the idea and may even help raise some much-needed cash to put it into play.

Steve Mariotti:  is a prominent advocate for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship education worldwide. He is the founder of the global nonprofit NFTE and the author of hundreds on the transformative power of entrepreneurship, including his recent memoir, Goodbye Homeboy.