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Cecala: Paving the way for successful entrepreneurs starts early, happens often

photo of Katherine Cecala who is discussing successful entrepreneurs
Katherine Cecala, above, is president of Junior Achievement of Arizona. (File Photos/DigitalFreePress)
By Katherine Cecala | Point of View

The workforce is changing and the way young people view the workforce is changing too. One of the surprising outcomes of the pandemic’s impact on the economy continues to be the surge in entrepreneurial activity, as more Americans leave their jobs and careers and strike out on their own.

The surge in new business creation is attractive to teens too, with research by Junior Achievement and The Hartford showing that 60 percent of teens would prefer to start a business over having a traditional job.

However, not even the most passionate of aspiring entrepreneurs can escape the risky reality that comes with launching one’s own venture.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1 in 5 businesses fail in the first year, and nearly half fail by the five-year mark. A lack of experience is one of the top reasons why.

The next generation of small business owners is currently sitting in K-12 classrooms across the country. That is why Junior Achievement of Arizona works to give students as much experience as possible in the realms of financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship.

Volunteers and mentors start providing programming for students on their first day of kindergarten, and that exposure continues throughout high school. The goal is to not only teach career and work readiness but to also prepare students for post-secondary education or work transitions while helping to foster an interest in entrepreneurship over time.

Paving the way for successful entrepreneurs starts early, happens often

This unique approach works:

  • 51 percent of JA Alumni say they have started or owned a business.
  • 36 percent of JA Alumni say Junior Achievement positively influenced their perception of business owners or community elders.
  • 27 percent of JA Alumni say Junior Achievement positively influenced their decision to start or run a business.
  • 7 percent of JA alumni say they employ 100 or more people, compared with 1.7 percent of U.S. small businesses.

Most of us will work for a small business at some point in time, and all of us interact with small businesses. Given the right information, tools and guidance, young entrepreneurs can increase their chances of success with their business endeavors. It is a years-long investment of time, support, and resources, but one that ultimately benefits our economy as a whole.

Editor’s note:

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