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Entrepreneurial Mindset

Tools for Life

How we view ourselves and the world around us impacts our ability to dream and achieve. In today’s innovation economy, where needs and opportunities are 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 a framework for describing this quintessentially entrepreneurial mindset, drawing on our depth of experience teaching entrepreneurship to young people.

Critical Thinking & Problem Solving

The capacity to apply higher- level, process-oriented thinking, consider an issue from a range of possible perspectives, and use that reasoning to make decisions.

Flexibility & Adaptability

The ability and willingness to change actions and plans to overcome present and future challenges.

Communication & Collaboration

The ability to clearly express ideas to an intended audience, including persuading others to work towards a common goal.

Comfort with Risk

The capacity to move forward with a decision despite inevitable uncertainty and challenges.

Initiative & Self Reliance

The power to take ownership of a project without input or guidance and work through obstacles independently.

Future Orientation

An optimistic disposition with a focus on obtaining the skills and knowledge required to transition into a career.

Opportunity Recognition

The practice of seeing and experiencing problems as opportunities to create solutions.

Creativity & Innovation

The ability to think of ideas and create solutions to problems without clearly defined structures.

Entrepreneurial Mindset Resources

What is an Entrepreneurial Mindset?

An entrepreneurial mindset is a set of skills that enable people to identify and make the most of opportunities, overcome and learn from setbacks, and succeed in a variety of settings. Research shows that an entrepreneurial mindset is valued by employers, boosts educational attainment and performance, and is crucial for creating new businesses.

NFTE incorporates the entrepreneurial mindset in all that we do.

Our awareness programs introduce students to entrepreneurial concepts and our classrooms and camps embed NFTE’s entrepreneurial mindset domains into the curriculum, providing students with tools to assess and reflect upon their entrepreneurial mindset.

You can learn more about entrepreneurial mindset in NFTE’s whitepaper, On Ramp to Opportunity.

Measuring the Mindset

Developing and measuring an entrepreneurial mindset is integral to NFTE’s work, driving our vision to activate the entrepreneurial mindset of an entire generation. Working with researchers at the Educational Testing Service (ETS), and with signature support from EY, we designed the Entrepreneurial Mindset Index (EMI)™ to measure mastery in eight core domains that we have identified as critical to entrepreneurial thinking.

NFTE’s EMI is a largely reliable and valid instrument to measure entrepreneurial mindset. The eight domains are captured with Likert items (questions that ask students to self-report agreement) and Situational Judgement Tests (questions that ask students to respond to a real-world scenario that is tied to a domain). You can learn more about NFTE’s development of the EMI and our latest research on entrepreneurial mindset in our whitepaper, Measuring Entrepreneurial Mindset in Youth.

Mindset Research

In recent years, educators have been rethinking the skills students need to be successful. With an eye towards career and college-readiness, many states and school districts are expanding their focus to include important “non-cognitive” skills such as critical thinking and problem solving.

The entrepreneurial mindset pairs these traditional non-cognitive skills with the quintessentially entrepreneurial skills demanded by today’s innovation economy. Research shows that developing an entrepreneurial mindset helps students engage in school, boosts educational performance, and is valued by employers.

Recent publications:

Relationship Between Entrepreneurship Education, Entrepreneurial Mindset, and Career Readiness in Secondary Students (Journal of Experimental Education, 2020)

The Entrepreneurial Mindset and the the Future of Work (Joint research brief developed by EY and NFTE, 2019)

Measuring Entrepreneurial Mindset in Youth Whitepaper (NFTE, 2018)

On Ramp to Opportunity Report (NFTE, 2017)

Curriculum Resources

NFTE’s “Operation Mindset” introductory module activates the entrepreneurial mindset in students, leveraging experiential learning activities and digital resources. Students who participate in Operation Mindset get to explore our eight domains of the entrepreneurial mindset through this interactive digital learning tool.

NFTE’s Entrepreneurial Mindset Index (EMI)™ also serves as a resource for students and teachers in NFTE programs. The EMI is a tool to develop entrepreneurial awareness and build upon the entrepreneurial skills and behaviors that instill career readiness.

Students receive a personalized report of their entrepreneurial mindset upon completion of the EMI. Based on their top three self-report domains, students can learn about their EMI archetype and explore other archetypes as they begin their entrepreneurial journey. Students create a personalized action plan based on these results and have an opportunity to take the EMI again at the end of the program to reflect on their progress throughout the NFTE experience.

Special Thanks!

NFTE is especially grateful to EY, the founding sponsor of the NFTE Entrepreneurial Mindset Index.