Over 600,000 new businesses open each year in the U.S. Nearly half of the country’s workforce is employed by small businesses. So, it’s no surprise that the next generation wants to continue the trend of entrepreneurship. As an educator – especially online – you have a unique opportunity to help your students realize their goals so they can eventually bring them to life.
Teaching online has its challenges. But, you can use the skills and resources you have to truly connect with your students. In doing so, you can either encourage them toward a path of entrepreneurship or direct them somewhere else if you think they might be better suited elsewhere.
If you’re excited about teaching entrepreneurship skills, think outside of the box when it comes to doing it over a digital platform. It takes a little creativity, but you can truly have a strong influence on the next generation of business owners. Let’s look at how you can make it work.
Begin with the basics of entrepreneurship
One of the best ways to get started with teaching entrepreneurship is to let your students know where it could lead. Discuss some of the benefits of an MBA, for example:
- Growing a professional network
- Acquiring an international perspective
- Cultivating transferable skills
- Benefitting from real-world case studies
You can also cover the benefits of owning a business and what to expect when they’re trying to launch one. Getting your students excited about entrepreneurship will make it easier to cover the basics. Thankfully, those basics are easy to study even through an online platform. You can teach your students some of the important skills they’ll need to succeed in business, including public speaking (an easy thing to do over video platforms), reading nonfiction texts, and utilizing project-based learning to simulate real-world situations.
The basics should also cover what your students should know before starting their business. That includes getting a handle on their finances. Small business loans and funding options might seem overwhelming at first. But, by teaching it, you’re preparing future entrepreneurs to be financially sound from the start.
Teaching the basics will make it easy for your students to decide whether they want to focus on entrepreneurship or not. It takes a passionate individual to want to start their own business. If they lose interest at the first step, you’ll both know they should be considering a different career path.
Get creative with your approach
There are several hurdles to consider when it comes to online learning. Some of the most notable include:
- Technical issues
- Computer literacy
- Time management
Getting your students to work through those hurdles isn’t always easy. That’s why getting creative with your approach is crucial. Students disengage often because they are distracted by things at home, or they just aren’t in the right environment to learn effectively. One way to combat that is by keeping them as involved as possible.
Instead of lecture after lecture, find ways to get your students talking. Teach your students to create business model canvases. These pared-down business plans can then be used to create pitches your students can give over video conferencing in a mock Shark Tank-style investment exercise.
There are plenty of ways to keep your students engaged, and it should be a priority if you want to keep their attention. So, don’t be afraid to get creative with your approach if it means everyone is involved.
Keep things social
One of the potential drawbacks of online learning is that it can be less social than teaching in person. But, there are things you can do to really connect with your students over an online platform. Spending extra one-on-one time with those interested in entrepreneurship can help them decide if it’s the right path.
You can keep online learning social for your entire class by:
- Providing extra emotional support
- Having space/time for students to interact with each other informally
- Organizing team activities
- Focusing on the gamification elements of online platforms
- Promoting peer learning
- Develop an online learning community
Keeping things social online will make your virtual class feel more like a traditional one in many ways. That can cut through the tension, make everyone more comfortable, and put your students at ease. Eventually, they’ll be more likely to ask questions and chime in with their own ideas. They may even be more comfortable emailing you or asking to do a private conference if they have additional questions or want more information about entrepreneurial skills.
All in all
As a teacher, you have an opportunity to inspire and educate the next generation of entrepreneurs. While using an online learning platform may have some bumps to work through, you can take pride in your work, knowing you’re encouraging dreamers to accomplish their future goals.
Charlie Fletcher is a writer and former preschool teacher from the lovely “city of trees”, Boise, Idaho. When not writing, she can be found exploring the great outdoors or geeking out over the latest Game of Thrones fan theories.