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Experiences Every Budding Entrepreneur Should Have in High School

Get good grades and pay attention in class.

Yes, there are those rare cases where a genius entrepreneur quits school to start a successful business. But for most students, what you learn in class will be tremendously helpful. You never know what knowledge you might need to draw on when starting or running a business, so don’t skimp on the classwork and put yourself at a disadvantage.

Get involved with something at school.

When you’re an entrepreneur, it helps to know how to work with people and lead them. A good way to get some early experience with that is to play a sport, join a club, volunteer for a school committee or even run for student office. All of these experiences can teach you how to interact with others toward a common goal.

Get a job.

Any job. Expose yourself to the working world to see how businesses operate. Even if you’re in a support role, you’ll have a window into things like how to interact with customers, what it takes to turn a profit, how businesses encounter and solve problems and the processes, policies and decisions that contribute to a company’s success or failure.

Be a shadow.

Find someone in your community who’s in a job or running a business you find interesting and ask to shadow them—for a day, a week, or even a summer, if they’ll let you. You may not get paid, but the experience could be invaluable.

Start thinking like an entrepreneur.

A lot of entrepreneurs start their businesses by solving a problem, improving an idea or product, or fulfilling an unmet need. Just because you don’t have a business of your own yet doesn’t mean you can’t start thinking like someone who does. Think of problems that need to be solved—at home, in your school, in the community. And if you think you have a better way of solving them, work out a plan and implement it, or propose it to the person in charge. Even if it goes nowhere, it’s a great exercise to start training your mind to think like an entrepreneur.

Participate in a college camp.

Some universities, like Northwood, offer summer camps where high school students learn about what it takes to launch and run a successful startup. Students can also use these camps to sharpen their leadership, presentation and marketing skills.

Go to networking events in your town.

There are business and entrepreneurship networking events in most towns today. Attend some. Put yourself in the circle of people you want to be in. Meet some folks who are doing the kinds of things you’re interested in, and stay connected to them. You never know what future opportunities might result from a connection you make today.

Get informed.

There are so many books, podcasts and online resources on the subject of entrepreneurism. So, what are you waiting for? Do some self-educating.

Start your own business.

It doesn’t have to be a lemonade stand. But it could be. Or babysitting, dog walking or selling cookies. Whatever the business, however small it might seem, there are lessons you’ll learn from doing that can’t be taught in a book. Put yourself out there and try to sell something to someone.

Don’t get discouraged.

If you’re going to be a successful entrepreneur, you can expect to suffer setbacks along the way. But that’s okay. Mistakes can be a great teacher. As long as you learn from your them. So, don’t worry if something doesn’t work out as planned. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and ask how you can make it better next time.

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