The essential skills for enterprise success

For young people today, aspiring to set up a business is becoming more and more popular. In fact, recent surveys suggest a large majority of those aged 16-21 want to be an entrepreneur1… and it’s not hard to see why. In a world of increasing economic uncertainty, carving out your own path can seem like a more rewarding prospect, financially and otherwise. That being said, regardless of whether your students have ambitions to be the next big start-up, the same skills are invaluable across the world of work and developing an enterprising mindset can set them up for life.

So what makes someone enterprising? The conventional wisdom suggests it’s something innate: maybe some people just have a more positive ‘glass half full’ approach to life. The way we commonly picture self-made business owners and famous entrepreneurs reinforces the idea that there are just a few among us whose talents naturally lie in enterprise.

But this isn’t always the case.

In fact, a successful enterprising mindset involves developing a mix of essential skills to make the most out of all available opportunities, big and small. It’s about being ready, able and willing to adapt to the evolving employment landscape of the 21stcentury. 

These skills can be taught and measured just as effectively as numeracy or literacy.

Here are a few tips on being enterprising in the real world, which you can use to build throughout your teaching, whether it’s form time, subject lessons or a one-to-one careers guidance session.

1. Emphasise the need to communicate well, and be well informed

Excellent presenting skills are vital to pitch an idea convincingly, while having an understanding of how to speak to your audience will win you supporters, whatever the situation. Remind students that on the flipside, it pays to be good at listening and taking on information: if you’re informed and listen well, you can capitalise on key opportunities others might miss.

2. Reflect on how to solve problems creatively

While most ideas develop from something that already exists, many solve new, complex issues in school, workplace or community situations. Problem solving skills help to break down these challenges into simpler component parts, and then creative strategies help generate solutions. How have your students done this already in or out of the classroom? You can encourage them to reflect on this question as part of the LifeSkills ‘Creativity and idea generation’ lesson.

3. Get them making long-term plans that can adapt and flex

Anyone can have ambition, but turning it into a well-organised, realistic plan is a vital skill. It’s not always easy, but once done it can allow people to work towards milestones and aim high. Remind students that success doesn’t just mean aiming for the stars – knowing when to stick at something and when to adapt or change their plans is a key part of staying positive and working towards manageable, longer-term goals. Why not introduce them to goal setting and the SMART model? You can find ideas for this in the LifeSkills ‘Setting goals’ lesson.

4. Inspire them to be outstanding team leaders

Why not open with this question to students: What do they think makes a good idea great? Big ideas and blue-sky thinking needs to be nurtured by both effective leadership and a lot of brilliant teamwork. To be truly successful, people need to know how to share their passion with others, as well as make smart decisions about how to delegate. This can be a great question to ask when setting your students a creative challenge, or kicking off project-based learning tasks.

5. Remember the strengths you bring to the table

As educators, you are enterprising on a daily basis, from using your presentation skills to solving problems,and with a packed curriculum we know staying positive is key. Therefore, who better to develop these skills in young people? Remember to use these tips in your own development, whether it’s a personal goal to bring more creativity to your lesson planning, or ways to build colleagues’ skills and confidence at your next CPD session. The more self-assured and confident you become in these areas, the more your students will thrive too.

Keen to embed these tips in your next session? Why not try the LifeSkills Toolkit for building a 21st century mindset, which we’re proud to have helped the programme develop in line with our Skills Builder Framework. It’s a great place for you to start exploring these essential skills with your students.

1https://www.bmmagazine.co.uk/news/43488/

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