The 4 entrepreneurial skills all students should learn in school

Basic entrepreneurial skills should be a part of all students’ education—not just those pursuing an MBA, Jeff Booth writes for Fast Company.

Booth, founder and CEO of the home improvement online platform BuildDirect, has recognized that entrepreneurial skills are not only critical for success in all careers, but also contribute to personal satisfaction.

But even successful entrepreneurs, Booth argues, are not born with these abilities, which is why it’s important to teach them on campus. Booth identifies four key entrepreneurial traits that students should learn.


1. Audacity

Where change is constant, risk is constant. Because our economy is constantly shifting, students must learn to reassess risks accurately and frequently. Booth argues that this also means learning to reevaluate what actually counts as failure and position oneself to take risks more often.

“It’s often far riskier to pursue the safe and well-trodden path,” says Booth.

In an educational environment, Booth says letter grading systems can hinder this mindset and discourage students from taking risks. “In the business world, failure is just another point of departure,” says Booth. Students need to realize that in the real world, success doesn’t depend on a single letter, he argues.


2. Generosity

“The idea that others have to lose so that you can win is increasingly outdated,” writes Booth. Successful entrepreneurs often focus on fostering what Booth calls an “abundance mentality.” Collaborating rather than competing with other forces will “create a bigger pie for others,” he says.

Booth adds that this approach is usually championed in the classroom, but rarely outside of it. He encourages institutions to find more ways to integrate teamwork into extracurricular and professional contexts.


3. Resilience

When entrepreneurs hit bumps in the road, they must channel their letdowns to work harder and alter their outcomes.

This mindset should begin in school, with students using criticism and negative feedback to work harder, rather than become discouraged.

“This life lesson couldn’t be more essential in an entrepreneurial-minded world,” says Booth. “It’s deceptively simple yet more critical than ever.”


4. Flexibility

Rather than over-valuing technological skills, focus on “learning how to learn,” says Booth. Even if technical know-how like coding is still important in many parts of the job market, it won’t be forever.

Graduates will need to consistently adapt to changing demands, which is why getting comfortable with lifelong learning is vital. “The key is to constantly ask, ‘What’s next? How can I stake this to the next level?'” says Booth. The best way to establish this mindset is to read voraciously (Booth, Fast Company, 10/29).