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High school activity (grades 9–12)

Content standards: National Council on Economic Education standard 14

All Kinds of Entrepreneurs
25 minutes

Description
This project introduces high school economics students to the many facets of entrepreneurism. Most students think of an entrepreneur as someone who owns a business. But this exercise helps students appreciate the range of entrepreneurial activity in the economy and understand the important role that entrepreneurs play in introducing change into the marketplace. The activity demonstrates that anyone can be an entrepreneur as long as he or she has the creativity to find new ways to combine existing factors of production. Finally, the activity helps students generate their own entrepreneurial ideas and think of themselves as future leaders.

Procedures

  1. Ask students to think of examples of three different kinds of entrepreneurs:
    • inventors, who come up with ideas for entirely new products or services;
    • innovators, who take existing products or services and change some aspect of them, such as features, size, or pricing; and
    • marketing entrepreneurs, who do not change the product itself but rather the way the product is perceived by consumers.

  2. Students must first come up with an example of the three types of entrpreneurs from today’s marketplace. The first step, identifying an invention, is more difficult than it appears because every new idea is somehow related to an existing idea. This difficulty shows students what a challenging form of entrepreneurism invention is and demonstrates the fine line between invention and innovation.

    Either individually or in groups, students can enter their ideas into a grid like the one below. Once students come up with an example of an invention, then they have to think of ways it has been innovated and marketed.

     

    Existing Product

    New Product

    Invention

    automobile

     

    Innovation

    cup holders

     

    Marketing

    associating the car with another existing product (e.g., Ford Expedition Eddie Bauer edition; placement of Jaguar in the Austin Powers movies)

     


  3. Next, students come up with their own entrepreneurial ideas and list them in the second column of the grid (see examples in the grid below). The product listed in this column can either be related or completely unrelated to the one in the first column. As with existing products, the line between invention and innovation is a fine one, so students may get stuck trying to think of something entirely new. This difficulty can help students appreciate the challenge involved with being an inventor, but in the interest of completing the exercise quickly, you may need to encourage them to “invent” something that is somewhat related to an existing product (for example, “rocket shoes” is an invention that was submitted by a student).

     

    Existing Product

    New Product

    Invention

    automobile

    personal desktop waste recycler (e.g., creates new paper from discarded paper)

    Innovation

    cup holders

    inclusion of a shredder attachment

    Marketing

    associating the car with another existing product (e.g., Ford Expedition Eddie Bauer edition; placement of Jaguar in the Austin Powers movies)

    rename the product “Green Machine”

By Alan Melchior, economic and financial education specialist, Miami branch

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