Posted in business, Curriculum, High School

Entrepreneurship in High School

     Welcome everyone, this is a very special post because it’s appearing in 2 blogs 3 blogs!  In addition to appearing here on the Homeschooling for College Credit page, I also have the honor of sharing it at 5 Major Steps, the page owned by my friend LeAnn Gregory.    She and I share the sense of urgency to prepare our teens for the next chapter of their lives, but our blog audiences are very different.   My readers are mainly homeschooling families who are strategically injecting college credit into their homeschool curriculum.  LeAnn’s readers come from a variety of school settings and are working to make wise choices about what to study in college and where to attend.  As if that weren’t awesome enough, my long time CLEP-friend and homeschool teacher Cheri Frame published my 3-month curriculum in her blog Credits Before College.  Regardless of which blog brought you here, where your children attend school, and what direction they’re headed, thank you for reading today!  ~Jennifer

Entrepreneur:  A person who organizes,  manages, or owns an enterprise, especially a business.


My 4 sons (currently ages 12, 16, 18, 22), have all run simple businesses and shown strong entrepreneurial drive from a very early age- with no prompting from me AT ALL.  I have, however, done my best to encourage this behavior because my husband and I support the idea of self-employment.   I think most parents are led to believe that they should always encourage entrepreneurism in kids and teens, however, the idea of “working for yourself” is really a philosophical position, and may not mesh well with the principles you’ve chosen to emphasize in your children.   So, before we continue, it’s a good idea to think about how your family really views entrepreneurism.  Is it something to be discouraged or encouraged? Do you support the idea of your son or daughter building a business, or would you rather they worked for someone else’s business?  Doe the insecurity of starting a business bring out your own passion? Or fear?

The fact is, that if everyone were an entrepreneur, we’d have no real economy.  We’d have no small, medium, or large companies of any kind.  Think about the two entrepreneurs who founded Google: Larry Page and Sergey Brin.  Though two men started the company, Google employs 72,000 people!  These employees earn a nice living, are highly educated, and are part of a global company that changed the world.  So clearly, we need entrepreneurs AND we need employees!  As we go forward, know that neither path is “better” than the other.  If your teen doesn’t have an entrepreneurial drive- so what?!  That’s fine!  In today’s post, we’ll look at ways to encourage the teens that DO have that drive, and I’ll provide you with some high quality (free) resources you can use  at home.  At this point in your teen’s life, you may already have a feeling about whether or not they desire to become an entrepreneur.  If you’re not sure, here are some clues:


  • Wants autonomy over their saving and spending of money.

  • Takes pride in earning their own money.

  • Likes to find the best deal on something they want to buy.

  • Makes deals and trades from a young age with siblings or friends.

  • Looks for ways to profit from deals and trades.

  • Finds their own solution to problems so they can get what they want or need. (movies, car, phone, sneakers, etc.)

  • Has their own ideas for running a small business (walking dogs, mowing, babysitting).

  • Follows through on their ideas for businesses or earning money.

  • Doesn’t require pushing or encouragement to earn money.

  • Doesn’t require pushing or encouragement to start a business.

  • Strategizes and sets goals to get the things they want.

  • Views themselves as capable of starting a small business.



Do any of those traits sound familiar?  I remember when my sons were very young, seated around their car track rug.  They each set up their own car lot and dealership.  After hours and hours of serious negotiation, each had negotiated and traded for their own selection of cars.   I don’t think they ever “played cars” on the rug by driving them around,  for them, it was all business- all the time.  Sometimes the negotiations were heated, but I always let them work out the deals. I was the parent, but I stayed out of their business.  In other words, I listened and corrected any bad behavior (rudeness, mean words) but I always stayed completely out of trading and deal making.  Afterall, I get that nobody wanted the ugly blue one with the wobbly wheel, or the slow purple one with a flower one hood…but they had to end up in someone’s lot, so trading was usually serious business.  I never minimized the importance of my kid’s learning business through play.  Kids learn early on whether or not it’s ok to ask for what you want, negotiate, trade, escalate a deal, make compromises, close a deal, and leave the table with dignity.  How we respond sends the message loud and clear.  Negotiating was how my kids played cars.

Trading and deal-making is the game.


     A byproduct of letting your teen spend (waste) their money, is that they learn how to spend money wisely.  In our house, we have some family rules for giving and saving, but what’s left is 100% theirs to spend (waste) as they choose.  I realize this is probably a big counter-intuitive parenting tip, but when you control the teen’s spending, they never feel the sting that comes from poor planning or lack of budgeting.  Natural consequences are the best teacher, and when your teen has to choose between a night out with friends or buying a new pair of jeans, they’ll have the opportunity to develop their “wisdom muscle.”  If my teen spends $10 on something that they later regret, that’s an inexpensive life lesson: I don’t have to say a thing.  Life was their teacher. I’ll happily let them squander $10 so they later don’t misspend $10,000.   Let’s face it, adults don’t have nearly as much trouble saving as they have learning how to spend money properly and carefully.  Learning about budgeting when you’re 5 is better than when you’re 15, but learning at 15 is SO MUCH better than when you’re 25, 35, 45, 55…. you’ve heard the ages of Dave Ramsey callers, right?

My older teens have successfully worked hard, saved, and spent their money on the thing they each wanted.  Besides their own small businesses, they are old enough that they’ve also held paying jobs as employees (lifeguard, dishwasher, server, etc.)  My older two love nice cars, and set that as their goal.  From selecting, negotiating, buying, registering, maintaining, insuring, etc. their cars are 100% their responsibility.   Taking responsibility has given them tremendous pride of ownership in how they operate and care for their vehicles.

matt's car 1
(Matt’s Mustang). Just so no one thinks his mom paid for his car!
One of several cars purchased by Jennifer’s sons WITH CASH.  (Alex’s Jeep)


Teaching your teens about money, business, and entrepreneurship is a fun and valuable opportunity that gives them important skills throughout their life!  For 10th grade, I cobbled together a fun homeschool curriculum based around the popular TV show Shark Tank, and an free online courses from MIT.

NOTE: the free MIT courses are open access, do not issue grades, won’t give you access to a teacher, and are considered “personal enrichment.” The do offer a very expensive verification credential, but I’ve never bought one because even with the credential, college credit is not awarded.  

We followed this outline loosely- in other words, every day included a little bit of


reading, a little bit of the class, a video or two, and an entry into their business journal.  I’ve intentionally left it loose to allow flexibility.  I’ll leave it up to you, but I also required a “lab” in which my son had to start and operate a small business for the semester.  He chose to custom paint and sell skateboards.  It was a lot of work, and he learned a great deal.  I highly recommend incorporating a business venture if possible.  If they create a business, have them keep track of their challenges and progress using a simple notebook/journal.

College Credit:  0

High School Credit (for homeschoolers):  1/2 Credit

Length of Time:  1 semester (3 months)

Month 1

Daily Lessons

MIT Entrepreneurship 101 online course

Reading List

  1. Disciplined Entrepreneurship, Bill Aulet  (MIT Professor teaching the series)
  2. Cold Hard Truth, Kevin O’Leary (Shark Tank)


  1. Shark Tank (Airs weekly on ABC, or available on
  2. Economics U$A (videos 1-9)

Month 2

Daily Lessons

MIT Entrepreneurship 102 online course

Reading List

  1. Display of Power, Daymond John (Shark Tank)
  2. Driven, Robert Herjavec (Shark Tank)


  1. Shark Tank (Airs weekly on ABC, or available on
  2. Economics U$A (videos 10-19)

Month 3

Daily Lessons

MIT Entrepreneurship 103 online course

Reading List

  1. How I win at the Sport of Business, Mark Cuban (Shark Tank)
  2. Use What You’ve Got, Business Lessons Learned from My Mom, Barbara Corcoran


  1. Shark Tank (Airs weekly on ABC, or available on
  2. Economics U$A (videos 20-28)

In closing, let me leave you with a few final suggestions for full curriculum.

Foundations in Personal Finance is the high school curriculum written by Dave Ramsey. It specifically emphasizes the principles he teaches adults, but with a teen-friendly approach.  This isn’t an affiliate link, I’m in no way associated with this product, I just happen to believe it’s fantastic. Foundations in Personal Finance High School Curriculum You can view the first chapter here: video.

If you’re looking for a little more “oomph” in the entrepreneur department, you can use a fantastic free program like Coursera to teach your teen how to start their own business. They have full university courses your teen can enroll in without sending transcripts or paying anything.  Individual courses are free, but you can enroll in a full bundle specialization program (see link) that awards a credential, but it’s not required.  Learn how to start your own business from Michigan State University.