How we view ourselves and the world around us impacts our ability to dream and achieve. In today’s innovation economy—with needs and opportunities evolving faster and more fluidly than ever before—our youth need a mindset that equips them to recognize opportunity, take initiative, and innovate in the face of challenges. NFTE has developed the framework for this quintessentially entrepreneurial mindset, drawing on our depth of experience teaching entrepreneurship to young people.
Tools for Life
Entrepreneurial Mindset Resources
Measuring the Mindset
Both anecdotal and academic research support the premise that entrepreneurs approach challenges and tasks in a unique way—with an entrepreneurial mindset. Research also suggests that an entrepreneurial mindset is not a fixed trait, but rather a set of skills and behaviors that can be taught, practiced, and cultivated, and that having an entrepreneurial mindset lays a foundation for success throughout life.
NFTE has been developing a scale to measure the entrepreneurial mindset in students. Our Entrepreneurial Mindset Index (EMI) measures eight core domains that we have identified as critical to becoming entrepreneurial, based on our own research and external studies.
We are working with Educational Testing Service (ETS) to develop the EMI, and we are grateful for signature support from EY. This index will be available as a tool within NFTE programs and beyond. As NFTE builds out its digital capacity, the EMI will be integrated with curriculum resources, providing real-time information about a user’s entrepreneurial mindset successes and progress.
We envision a future where educational institutions and businesses alike can use the EMI to help students and employees build entrepreneurial skills and behaviors that drive success.
NFTE’s Operation Mindset curriculum activates the entrepreneurial mindset in students, leveraging digital learning to help reinforce entrepreneurial behaviors. To learn more, inquire here.
Mindset learning is not just a key component of NFTE’s entrepreneurship curriculum. Professional development opportunities for NFTE educators are also designed to reinforce understanding of the mindset domains and share best practices for developing the entrepreneurial mindset. To learn more, inquire here.
Research: The Need for Mindset Learning
A survey of more than 400 employers referenced in an Economic Policy Institute briefing paper found that the most prized skills were skills such as oral communication, teamwork/collaboration, professional/work ethic, and critical thinking/problem solving, all of which are part of the entrepreneurial mindset. More than 90 percent of employers identified these skills as “very important.”
A 2015 study by Columbia University researchers examines skills-building programs focused on social and emotional skills, and found an approximately $11 return for each dollar invested.
A 2017 Penn State study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that teaching young people soft skills such as communications, relationship building, self-motivation, responsibility, and creativity help children overcome challenges and avoid unhealthy behavior. This in turn improves a variety of outcomes into adulthood, including doing better in school, being more likely to graduate college, and getting a good-paying job.
In 2012, the National Research Council released an extensive literature review demonstrating that entrepreneurial skills, such as creative problem solving and collaboration, are important to academic success. A report by the D.C. Children and Youth Investment Corporation went even further, concluding that entrepreneurship education “improved academic performance, school attendance, and educational attainment.”