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4 Ways to Start 10,000 Hours of Entrepreneurship Practice

Through his book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell popularized the 10,000-Hour rule, which drew from old studies of expertise. The rule posits that attaining expert-level mastery of anything requires a lot of deliberate practice. In a similar vein, research indicates that effective entrepreneurship education requires the development of an entrepreneurial mindset and key skills, combined with the opportunity to safely practice their use.

Three general categories of entrepreneurial education are:

  • Teaching about entrepreneurship, to lay a theoretical foundation and deepen understanding of concepts and common practices.
  • Teaching for entrepreneurship, to equip aspiring entrepreneurs with technical skills and knowledge.
  • Teaching through entrepreneurship, which entails experiential learning.

(Read more in this 2015 OECD background report Entrepreneurship in education: What, why, when, how.)

Holistic entrepreneurial education should accommodate all three approaches.

4 Ways to Enable Entrepreneurship Practice for Students

Here are four ways you can facilitate entrepreneurship practice for your students. Depending on the resources at your disposal, you might even combine some of these approaches.

  1. Entrepreneurship class: This involves designing a curriculum to shape students’ mindsets so that they are equipped to identify opportunities from challenges that they experience. Here, the focus should be on providing good quality, comprehensive education that prepares youth for the future of work. This includes fostering entrepreneurial thinking and skills through curriculum design, rewarding innovative thinking, and promoting informal education where diverse experiences and activities are opportunities to learn.
  2. Entrepreneurship & leadership camp: Through African Leadership Academy’s BUILD-in-a-Box program, our students and alumni run entrepreneurial leadership training camps in their home countries and elsewhere across Africa. This report outlines what a two-day BUILD-in-a-Box camp typically looks like, and details some of the key components for successful delivery (e.g. program partners, facilitators, curriculum, and tools). This is one example of a short-term, intensive experiential opportunity.
  3. Entrepreneurship Club: If there is not enough time in your academic schedule for an entrepreneurship class, you could try running a club. This offers more flexibility and can be driven by student interest. Check out, for example, SA Teen Entrepreneur’s High School Entrepreneurs Society.
  4. Simulations: A market day is a fair where students showcase their goods and services for sale to others. It could be a final Economics or Entrepreneurship class project, or a one-time opportunity to practice basic sales and marketing skills. Ultimately, market days are relatively low stakes opportunities for students to develop and practice entrepreneurial skills individually or in teams. A student venture program is a structured, formalized learning experience, that is guided by a curriculum with clear learning objectives, activities, and assessments. At ALA, this year-round program entails formal trading activity by student-run enterprises in a simulated economy. (Listen to this conversation about some of the systems and structures that need to be in place for this kind of simulation.)
Members of the student enterprise Hair Matta pitch their products to interested customers at the 2020 ALA Enterprise Fest (Photo Credit: Mfundo Mbanze)

Practice Makes Better

While the 10,000-hour rule might appear to gloss over complexity, we can all agree that practice makes better. What’s more important than reaching that 10,000-hour mark is to actually start and persist.

How are you applying the (spirit of the) 10,000-hour rule to develop entrepreneurial skills and mindsets?

This article first appeared in the Anzisha Educator Community newsletter. Join the mailing list here and get a free copy of our e-book, How to Develop Entrepreneurial Behavior Through Entrepreneurship Practice.



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