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How to Encourage Youthful Entrepreneurship

How to Encourage Youthful Entrepreneurship

Way back when, setting up your own business generally meant going to a bank to arrange a loan, spending an inordinate amount of time networking in-person and figuring out how to find and manage a staff.

Today, however, with a wealth of online tools at the disposal of anyone with an internet connection, it’s easier than ever to start a business with very few costs. Twenty-somethings are especially poised to take advantage of this shift, given that they tend to understand these tools. What’s more, whether they ultimately wind up employed at a massive corporation or go the full way on their own, experimenting with entrepreneurialism teaches a host of skills that will be crucial in our globally competitive workspace, where just being “good enough” isn’t going to cut it.

What Entrepreneurialism Does for Youth

Entrepreneurs tend to be jacks of all trades. They must be willing to learn as they go, shift with the market and work until they drop. Encouraging twenty-something entrepreneurialism means:

1. Teaching employable skills.

Take a look at any given job description today, and you’ll see a single buzzword repeated throughout: innovation. Employers want motivated employees who are creative, willing to “disrupt paradigms” while working with little management. However, they still need those employees to possess a number of more traditional skills, like communication, organizational and time management skills. And, hey, if they also happen to be good at marketing and sales, all the better.

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Whether you like using and developing these skills or not, all entrepreneurs must master them if your business is going to get anywhere. If sales doesn’t come naturally, then the entrepreneur must either figure out a creative way to get around it (like designing an even better online sales system) or just dive in and get over that fear. Not only does doing so show potential employers that you have developed that specific skill, but it also shows a willingness to take risks in the name of personal growth. If that doesn’t make someone employable, I don’t what does.

2. Nurturing creativity and teaching youth how to fail.

There’s a reason why these two things are sandwiched together: creativity and failure go hand in hand. To be creative, you have to look beyond everyday constraints to those things no one has ever thought of before — or they have, and decided they weren’t worth the risk. Doing so will inevitably come with a lot of failure, from which the entrepreneur must pick him or herself up and move on, having evaluated the failure and gotten him or herself ready for more directed experimentation.

While schools do fail students, they’re not the best at teaching student how to fail. In fact, in the academic realm most students strive to avoid failure at all costs. That’s fine when it comes to memorizing and mastering known information, but it doesn’t promote the kind of thinking that’s going to rescue humanity from its deepest crises — or make anyone a profitable company.

Entrepreneurialism forces young adults away from their knee-jerk failure avoidance behaviors. This will have enormous benefits in the ability to think creatively and pursue new avenues, which extends beyond work and into personal lives. A true entrepreneur is someone who sees failure as an opportunity for reinvention.

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3. Teaching the young how not to settle.

Entrepreneurs don’t just settle for what they’re given. Being an entrepreneur is akin to being an artist — never fully happy with where you are. Combine dissatisfaction with curiosity and you get someone who is constantly on the hunt for new ideas — and who pursue those that are most worthy. Whether you stay in the entrepreneurial world or not, embracing a spirit of entrepreneurialism will prevent the young from simply accepting less than ideal employment situations just because “that’s the way it is.” That drive will inform a lifetime of good work.

4. Doing this all within a relatively safe framework.

The younger an entrepreneur is, the less he or she has to lose. There’s generally no house to pay for or family to support. Yes, there may be student loans, but if they get going while still in college, they may still be on the parental dole and benefiting from scholarships, or there is at least no pressing need to pay loans back instantly. Even better, more and more colleges are offering courses in entrepreneurship as well as startup funds, so there’s less to lose and more to gain than ever. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings just announced that he will be sending $14 million to a Seattle startup that encourages more entrepreneurial education.

So, How to Get Going?

All of that said, there’s no getting around one key fact about entrepreneurialism: it’s hard. Or tiring, at the very least — especially when balanced with school obligations. That budding young entrepreneur is definitely going to need as much support and advice as they can get. Here are a few tidbits to pass on.

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1. Find the Focus

One of the best things new young entrepreneurs can do is find their focus. Of course, finding that focus may very well mean experimenting first with this kind of product and then the next as they “beta test” and find the most viable audience. But that shouldn’t be taken as sanction to offer a million different things, just because the given entrepreneurs find them interesting. New entrepreneurs can start simply by writing down problems or annoyances they see as they process they world, as well as ideas for fixing them. Then they should take those ideas to family and friends to see if they seem viable, and do a little research into competitor offerings. Having narrowed down to a focus, new entrepreneurs will find it easier to test the market with various manifestations of their product and go from there.

2. Sort Out Pricing

Competitor and audience research is also key for determining the price of the product or service. Many budding young entrepreneurs are idealistic about how little they can charge, especially for a web-based product, but competitor prices often reflect real world realities, like just how much it costs to host a popular website each month. It’s also important to consider other factors, like building in room for growth and just how price-sensitive any given audience of consumers will be.

Again, this is a place where entrepreneurs should really be encouraged to experiment, not fear failure, and be ready to shift course.

3. Set Up an Online Store

Whether this specific new startup will operate solely in the online space or not, having an online store will be crucial for most businesses. Today’s consumers expect to be able to get whatever they want online, and they’ll simply go elsewhere if they can’t get it from that budding entrepreneur. However, consumers will also turn away if an ecommerce store doesn’t feel trustworthy or easy to use. As such, from both a design and a sales perspective, it’s usually easiest for a time-limited entrepreneur to build their shop on a third party platform Check out Amazon webstore’s small business spotlights for some great examples. Platforms like this will integrate easily with their site, and will also handle all of the tricky shopping cart and credit card processing for them. What’s more, with a service like Amazon, products will automatically become searchable on the Amazon site, gaining the product even more exposure.

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4. Market Via Email and Social Media

Even the best product or service won’t sell if no one knows about it. Thankfully for busy young entrepreneurs, marketing is easier than ever with tools they already use every single day: email and social media. Email marketing begins with a newsletter signup list on the company website. From there, entrepreneurs should put together an editorial calendar to help them regularly brainstorm ideas for content they can post on their blog and email out to their list, as well as any accompanying promotions. This should of course accompany regular activity on social media platforms, as well as attendance at any campus or local events to let target customers know all about the product.

5. Think Hard About Time Management

Being an entrepreneur requires juggling many different balls at once. That means time management is key, especially for enrolled students. Entrepreneurs should take time every week to plan out the week’s schedule, making sure to build in time just to relax and do something other than relentlessly pursue their business goals. In general, it’s best to focus on one thing at a time, rather than trying to multi-task. For some entrepreneurs, outsourcing basic labor like data entry or even higher level tasks like accounting will go a long way towards lightening that load.

The Takeaway

Whether that startup becomes a billion dollar behemoth or fails after just a few months, entrepreneurialism has a wealth of lessons to teach our nation’s youth, from financial literacy to creativity. Encouraging entrepreneurialism is good for the economy and even better for the young. So what will you do to encourage a young person into entrepreneurialism today?

Featured photo credit: Shutterstock via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on July 4, 2019

25 Killer Sites For Free Online Education

25 Killer Sites For Free Online Education

Whether you’re five or ninety five, the internet has a lot to offer. Particularly when the topic is education, the resources on the internet are endless.

Best of all, many high quality sites are completely free. From history to coding, excellent free online education awaits on the following 25 sites.

1. Coursera

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    Coursera is a website that partners with universities and organizations around the world. This brings a wide variety of topics and perspectives to one searchable database.

    Coursera is a powerful tool for free online education, and includes courses from many top universities, museums and trusts. This gives the site an extremely wide range of in-depth courses.

    Coursera is extremely useful if you’re looking to study many different topics, or want courses from different schools and groups.

    2. Khan Academy

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      Partnering with many post secondary schools, Khan Academy offers a useable, well organized interface. Also curating many courses from around the web, Khan Academy offers impressive depth on many different subjects.

      Among the more well known educational sites, Khan Academy is also incredibly useable, which may make it easier to keep learning goals.

      3. Open Culture Online Courses

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        If you are struggling to find exactly the material you are looking for, try Open Culture’s listing of free online education courses. The page highlights 1000 lectures, videos and podcasts from universities around the world. The site features a lot of material found only on universities private sites, all in easy to browse categories. This means you can find hundreds of university courses, without having to visit and search each university’s own site.

        Open Culture’s list features courses from England, Australia, Wales and many state universities around the United States. A very helpful resource for finding many courses in one area of study.

        4. Udemy 

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          Udemy’s free courses are similar in concept to Coursera’s but additionally allows users to build custom courses from lessons.

          Working with many top professors and schools, the site mixes the customizable platform of other sites with a heavy emphasis on top quality content. This is another site however, that mixes free and paid content.

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          5. Academic Earth

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            Another site with courses from many different schools is Academic Earth. Much like the three sites above, Academic Earth brings together top notch courses from many different sources, and focuses on offering a wide variety of subjects.

            Academic Earth lists courses by subject and school, so it might be easier to find what you’re looking for.

            6. edX

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              Another great option for free online education is edX. Also bringing together courses from many different schools, the site has impressive, quality information for everyone. edX covers a great range of topics.

              7. Alison

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                Unlike the previous sites on this lists, Alison is a free education site offering certification in some areas. Alison offers courses mainly in business, technology, and health, but also includes language learning courses.

                It’s a great option if users need certification for their learning as Alison also offers school curriculum courses.

                8. iTunesU Free Courses

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                  A very convenient place for free online education is iTunesU, because it integrates seamlessly with your iPod, or any app-ready Apple mobile device. On iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, users download the iTunesU app.

                  Desktop users can access  iTunesU on the upper right hand corner of the iTunes Store. iTunesU is also convenient because the store is categorized much like iTunes.

                  Users can search learning materials in many different ways, including genre and topic. However, courses are often a mix of free podcasts or videos, and paid content.

                  ITunesU does include courses on a pretty wide scope of topics, but does not integrate with Android, Google or Windows mobile devices.

                  9. Stanford Online

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                    Your hub for all the online offerings from Stanford University, Stanford Online offers self-paced and session based courses. While Coursera features some courses from Stanford, many classes are only available via other hosts. Some courses require iTunes, but most are completed in your web browser.

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                    Stanford Online is a great site for high quality courses, though the topics are somewhat limited compared to sites partnered with more than one school.

                    10. Harvard Extension

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                      Like Stanford Online, Harvard Extension features free online education courses from Harvard only. This is another excellent source for top notch course material, though the course variety is less rich than multi-school sites.

                      Additionally, Harvard Extension allows you to search for courses by professional certificate. This makes it much easier if your online education goal includes certification.

                      11. Open Yale Courses

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                        Open Yale Courses echoes Harvard Extension and Stanford Online, in that it offers only courses from Yale. While the site is similarly limited to topics taught at the school, Open Yale Courses offers a lot of videos of actual campus lectures. The availability of videos makes the site a great option if you’re looking for quality courses, but learn better by watching than by reading.

                        12. UC Berkeley Class Central

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                          Much like the other schools on this list, UC Berkeley has a variety of free online education options. The school has slightly fewer courses than the schools above, but includes some supplementary lectures, webcasts and RSS Feeds, making it easy to keep up with the topics you choose.

                          13. MIT OpenCourseWare

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                            Similarly, MIT offers a variety of free courses. The school has a comparable number of courses to the schools above, plus includes very in-depth course materials on the subjects available. MIT also offers free RSS feeds, a convenient way to continue learning.

                            14. Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative

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                              Carnegie Mellon’s free online education site is comparable with the other school’s on this list, however, Open Learning Initiative also covers a smaller range of topics. But for the topics that are covered impressive, in-depth material is available.

                              15. Codecademy

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                                Codecademy is a website dedicated specifically to teaching coding. Where other coding sites follow an example/practice session workflow, Codecademy includes a live practice window. This means you can practice coding while still viewing the lesson material.

                                The courses at Codecademy are well written and easy to follow and the website is organized very nicely. Codecademy features a centralized dashboard where you can monitor your progress, plus organizes lessons into complete modules. This lets you learn an entire language without needing to pick the next course manually.

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                                16. Code

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                                  Code is another website focused on coding and app writing. A site with high quality courses, Code also features learning options for kids.

                                  In addition to kid friendly courses, Code offers free online education classes on a wide variety of technology topics. These classes include app writing, robotics and Javascript.

                                  Most of the courses are also geared in a such a way that they can be useful in a classroom setting. This makes Code a great resource for harder to find coding topics, as well as various learning settings.

                                  17. University of London Podcasts

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                                    The podcast page on the University of London website is another great source for free education. While the courses are limited to podcasts, the site features podcasts from it’s own campus, as well as eleven universities in and around London. This gives learners a wide base of topics and lectures, but still ensures in-depth material.

                                    18. University of Oxford Podcasts

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                                      Similar to the University of London, the University of Oxford features many different podcasts. Most are public lecture series or lectures from visiting professors, with several different recordings available.

                                      The advantage to this particular site is that podcasts are organized into series, making it easy to subscribe to multiple lectures on one topic. Another good site for thoroughly in-depth lectures.

                                      19. BBC Podcasts

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                                        For the more casual learner, the BBC offers a wide variety of podcasts on many different topics. Most podcasts are updated weekly, and focus on everything from finance, to sports, to current events.

                                        Through the World Service line of podcasts, there are also many in different languages. The focus of these podcasts are less in-depth and theory based, which may be more accessible to the average person.

                                        20. TED-Ed

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                                          Another great destination for more general learning is TED-Ed. From the same people that brought you the all encompassing, motivational web series, comes a site chocked full of educational videos. Most include impressive animation, and all are ten minutes long or less.

                                          Not only is TED-Ed an excellent site for the curious, it also includes supplemental materials and quizzes on the videos. This makes the site extremely useful in formal education settings, as well as in entertaining ways to brush up on new discoveries and topics.

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                                          21. LessonPaths

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                                            LessonPaths is another great tool for those looking for a more usable and convenient way to access learning material. On this site, users create link playlists of their favorite learning materials from other sites. Users then rank these collections, making it easy to find many different high quality, accessible sources on a given topic.

                                            22. Memrise

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                                              Another impressive free online education site offering ease of use and convenience is Memrise. Available both on desktop and as an app, Memrise is a particularly powerful tool if you are studying a language. The site encompasses many other topics as well, though some of the course material is user generated content.

                                              Part of what makes Memrise special is their integration of games into the learning materials, mixing learning with entertainment.

                                              23. National Geographic Kids

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                                                The kids site for National Geographic is another site that makes free online education applicable for younger users. For those looking for kid friendly education, a large variety of games, puzzles, videos and photos keeps kids interested on this site.

                                                National Geographic Kids doesn’t organize learning into courses, making materials available by topic and medium instead. This makes National Geographic Kids a good option for those looking for a more casual learning environment.

                                                24. Fun Brain

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                                                  Fun Brain is another good option for kids who want to learn online, but focuses on games and fun puzzles. Particularly focused on math and reading, Fun Brain’s game based approach can be valuable if the child in question struggles to pay attention.

                                                  Fun Brain offers rewards and challenges as well, and is another site aimed at a casual learning experience for kids K-8.

                                                  25. Whyville

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                                                    Similar to the sites for kids free online education is Whyville a destination for preteen online learning. The site includes a variety of social features, with a focus on learning materials geared for young teens.

                                                    Whyville also mixes in educational games, to make the site a well rounded option for kids too old for simple games, but too young for heavy reading based material.

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                                                    Featured photo credit: Dai KE via unsplash.com

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