Educating Entrepreneurs


By Rashad Phillips

Since I was a kid, I’ve been fascinated with business. During middle school, I sold candy in school and operated a lawn service. After getting my first taste of making money, I quickly became addicted to the rush of being an entrepreneur. Both of my parents were career employees who had the desire to become entrepreneurs but lacked the required capital. My only direct exposure to the entrepreneurial spirit was when my parents became Amway consultants and when my mother sold leather handbags. As a child, I noticed that my parents seemed much happier when they were entrepreneurs.

In the 7th grade, while the majority of the kids in my class were misbehaving because we had a substitute teacher, I noticed that our substitute teacher was reading the business section. I asked the teacher for a lesson on how to read the stock page and that was the beginning of my formal business education. After my middle school teachers noticed my passion for business, they recommended that I attend Garinger High School’s Academy of Finance (AOF), a pilot magnet program which exposed high school students to accounting, economics, and finance. During our senior year, we were offered a junior level finance course at UNC Charlotte and a Real Estate Pre-license course at Central Piedmont Community College. I successfully completed both courses and twenty days after my 18th birthday, I earned my real estate license. The AOF program was preparing us to attend college and to work in the banking sector but I was trying to figure out how to use this information to start my own business. After graduating high school, I attended Johnson C Smith University to pursue a business degree. During my senior year at JCSU, after having had two part-time jobs, a work study job, working as a part-time real estate agent, at the age of 21, I decided to lease a commercial space and launch my own business. Since launching my first business, I’ve launched three other businesses and one of them is focused on helping aspiring entrepreneurs.

Recently, I was asked about my entrepreneurial journey and what steps parents should take to encourage their children to become business owners. Since my journey in business has been so personal, I’ve spent the majority of my time learning how the business world works which has caused me to neglect developing a formula for the next generation. My lack of adequate answers for parents and students led me to write this article and to seek out experts for advice on educating future entrepreneurs.

Isis Brantley, Natural Hair Stylist, Educator, and Entrepreneur

Isis BrantleyI started out just testing my skills on the community and then people began to ask me to teach them how to become self-sufficient. The Institute of Ancestral Braiding was created because I identified an opportunity to create economic empowerment through teaching women how to use their natural gifts and inherent skills. It’s very important to pass down the skills of working with our hands and hair from generation to generation because that’s how women feed our babies, that’s how we clothe our children, that’s how we provide shelter, and that’s how women stay in divine connection with the earth.

An important quality for women entrepreneurs to develop is the quality of love for one’s self, along with embracing our identity. It’s also important to amplify and exude the following qualities: truth, justice, reciprocity, balance, and harmony to embrace the art of ancestral braiding. The qualities that I just mentioned are universal principles so they apply to all entrepreneurial pursuits.

Dr. Randal Pinkett, Chairman and CEO of BCT Partners, Winner of NBC’s The Apprentice (4th season).

Randall Pinkett HeadshotThe number one predictor of if you will own a business has nothing to do with your income, social status, or ethnicity. It’s based on if your parents were business owners. The best thing a parent can do to encourage their children to become entrepreneurs is to start a business and involve their children. Parents who don’t have an entrepreneurial background can sometimes teach their children to fear risk and to seek a safe career choice. When parents are business owners, their children get hands-on experience learning how to think like an entrepreneur. If parents aren’t entrepreneurs, but want to expose their children to entrepreneurship, I recommend the following: 1) Get your children involved with entrepreneurship programs such as FBLA, NFTE, or SIFE. 2) Encourage your child to experiment with running a small business (lemonade stand, candy sales, or Ebay Selling). 3) Encourage your children to contact prominent local business owners to seek advice and gain insight.

Adrian Sundiata, Dean of Students at Cross Road Charter High School

Adrian SundiataMy goal as the dean of students at Cross Roads Charter High School and Uhuru Sasa Restoration Academy is the create 21st century competent students. We are living in an age of entrepreneurship and our young people must be prepared to compete in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Uhuru Sasa Restoration is a Saturday School Program at Cross Roads and we train our students in solar, wind, and hydroelectricity technologies. Our students are learning how to install solar panels, modernizing light systems, and identifying opportunities to use clean energy. At Cross Roads, our model is a business model and most of our Career and Technical Education classes are business related classes.

Cheryl Wood, Author, Speaker, and Mompreneur

Cheryl WoodThe event that pushed me over the edge was when I asked my employer if I could reduce my lunch break by 30 minutes so that I could leave 30 minutes earlier so I wouldn’t have to fight traffic to pick-up my children. My boss denied my request because he said if he changed my schedule then he would have to change everyone else’s schedule. This situation was one of the events that fueled my desire to take a leap of faith and become an entrepreneur. I’ve written three books and become a professional speaker. My example has rubbed off on my daughter Jayana who was 9 years old when she self-published her first book.

For your readers who are in the Corporate Rat Race but want out, I suggest that they develop a successful mindset. Aspiring entrepreneurs need to know that you are enough, that you have what it takes to accomplish your goals, and that you don’t need the permission or validation of others to go after your dreams. Also, on a daily basis, remind yourself that success is never going to be free, easy, or convenient. Success requires a continual long-term financial, emotional, physical, and spiritual investment.

Dr. Rudy Jackson, Entrepreneur & College Administrator

Rudy JacksonA core element of entrepreneurship is the ability to identify and solve problems.  The college experience provides a great laboratory to build entrepreneurial skills.  While there is important knowledge to be gained inside the classroom, entrepreneurs must also see their time outside of class as an opportunity to apply their knowledge to real-life problems on their college campus.  Outside of the classroom, parents can assist their children by explaining the pros and cons of entrepreneurship, discussing the skills required to become a successful entrepreneur, identify entrepreneurs that your children interacts with on a daily basis and asking those entrepreneurs questions, and allowing your children to earn money based on their ability to solve household problems.

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