Entrepreneurial mindset in youth development – Part 3: Failure, 4-H and problem-solving

Participation in 4-H entrepreneurship programs can develop problem-solving skills wanted by employers.

Problem-solving is defined as the process of finding solutions to difficult or complex issues. Problem-solving is highly regarded as one of the most important entrepreneurial characteristics. Participation in 4-H entrepreneurship programs can provide youth with this valuable attribute.

Youth in entrepreneurship programs are encouraged to develop products and services that are solutions to some of life’s daily problems and develop them into entrepreneurial endeavors. Not all entrepreneurial endeavors will be successful, but even when failure does occur the young entrepreneur has an opportunity to learn from the experience, and thereby improve their chance of success in the next entrepreneurial endeavor. Youth in entrepreneurship programs are encouraged to make mistakes, learn from those mistakes and develop new ideas or solutions based on what they have learned.

The ability to problem-solve nurtures self-confidence in youth. To develop self-confidence, youth need to feel and believe they are capable and they must experience success at solving problems and meeting challenges. However, they must not be afraid to fail as they examine possible solutions to problems.

The “head” component of 4-H provides youth with an opportunity to take the lead, with the help of adult partners, in thinking, learning and problem-solving. Providing safe environments where youth can problem-solve is part of the foundation of the philosophy of 4-H. Exposure to entrepreneurship projects cultivates the entrepreneurial mindset of problem-solving in youth. This is a marketable skill in whatever field youth eventually choose as a profession.

According to “The 10 Skills Employers Most Want in 20-Something Employees” by Susan Adams in Forbes magazine, problem-solving skills are among the most important qualities employers seek. It can also be the spark for social entrepreneurialism, pursuing innovative ideas to solve community problems. This mindset may lead to civic engagement in their communities as adults. When kids are tasked with looking at problems and finding solutions by thinking outside the box, the entrepreneurial mindset can take them to solutions that may change their world.

The Aspen Institute Youth Entrepreneurship Strategy Group in its 2008 Policy Maker's Action Guide for Youth Entrepreneurship Education suggests the most important step in developing youth entrepreneurship programs “is to involve state and school district adoption of a formal entrepreneurship education curriculum," followed by teacher professional development, community partnerships and effective and accurate evaluation.

Michigan State University Extension 4-H programs can play a role in creating community partnerships by providing entrepreneurship resources, staff and program evaluation to develop youth entrepreneurship programs.

This the third article in a series of articles examining 4-H, failure and the entrepreneurial mindset. To read the rest of the articles in this series, see:

Did you find this article useful?