Does your teen have a great business idea or want to pursue a career in entrepreneurship? What follows are some great resources for your teen to support them on their entrepreneurial journey through high school and into college.

1. Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE)

Among other things, NFTE provides resources that assist students in opportunity recognition — i.e., attempting to spot ideas and turn them into successful businesses. Furthermore, “by teaching the entrepreneurial mindset, NFTE provides young people with tools and attitudes to overcome adversity and address future personal, economic, community and global challenges.” NFTE does this by providing resources, through regional programming and by hosting a national conference and competition.

2. DECA

With over 3,500 high school chapters, DECA “prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe.” DECA holds national pitch competitions, entrepreneurship tracks and is in partnership with the U.S. Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship. Given business and entrepreneurship is primarily offered as an elective in high school, DECA is a great way to get exposure to business language and ideas.

3. University options

Entrepreneurship programming varies across college campuses. While your teen is still in high school, determining what options are available may be helpful in choosing a university. Some universities may offer only a few courses while others have certificates, minors, majors and degrees. And although entrepreneurship education is growing at most universities, the differences are still rather drastic. Exploring these options early in high school is advantageous in preparing to apply.

4. Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO)

Joining national organizations can provide for learning and expanding one's network. CEO is a national program that connects entrepreneurship chapters across most U.S. states. With over 200 chapters, CEO’s mission is to “inform, support and inspire college students to be entrepreneurial and seek opportunity through enterprise creation.” Through CEO, students have the opportunity to participate in a national pitch competition and the ability to win seed funding for their entrepreneurial ideas.

5. Megapreneurship

A term used to explain the abundance and diversity of innovative minds working together on entrepreneurship across college and university campuses. Megapreneurship initiatives attempt to connect those from all disciplines, such that students share ideas and perspectives from business, sciences, engineering, humanities and so forth. In an effort to stimulate campus-wide entrepreneurial contagion, universities that have cross-discipline initiatives in place for students help to stimulate the entrepreneurial ecosystem and are a great way for college students to meet other entrepreneurship-focused students across campus.  

6. Entrepreneurship ecosystem

Gain an understanding as to what is going on in and around university entrepreneurship ecosystems. Can you get experience volunteering with the local small business development center (SBDC)? Are there nearby incubators, innovation or economic development centers? While the university may offer a wealth of entrepreneurship related opportunities, it’s important to also determine what is occurring in the broader entrepreneurship ecosystem.

7. Enactus

Enactus invests in students who are taking entrepreneurial action. Enactus believes that entrepreneurship can make the world holistically better and, as a nonprofit organization, it provides a platform for university students to create community development projects. To date, over a million people have been positively impacted by students’ involvement in entrepreneurial-minded community development.

Many parents are still left wondering how they can support their teens down this entrepreneurial path. My advice is simple. First, be encouraging. Second, don’t tell them why an idea won’t work. Instead, challenge them to go out and interview real potential customers and ask for the sale.

Last, help connect them with the entrepreneurs in your community. Take them to a chamber of commerce networking event or a rotary meeting and introduce them around. Have them pitch their ideas to these individuals and gain valuable feedback.