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Entrepreneurship Education Basics

What is an Entrepreneur?

We find entrepreneurs in manufacturing, business, agriculture, health care, tourism, education, government, and the arts.  Essentially, we find them among employees and employers in all sectors of life. Being an entrepreneur means more than being a business owner.  It means possessing entrepreneurial qualities and characteristics essential to being a productive citizen and excelling in one's career.  Being entrepreneurial means creating something new or developing ideas or projects; not following prescribed paths and thinking outside the box. The entrepreneurial spirit is the heart of a society that moves forward and adapts to changing economic, technological, and social challenges. 

Why is Entrepreneurship Education Important?

The United States has long been a world leader in business, job creation, the number of patents awarded, overall competitiveness, and quality of life. Especially in times of economic transition, national and regional economies depend on the entrepreneurial spirit of individual citizens for renewal. Likewise, individual prosperity, happiness, and freedom are directly linked to regional and national economic success.

The National Content Standards for Entrepreneurship Education are based on two core assumptions:

  • Entrepreneurship is a key driver of our economy.
  • Entrepreneurship education is a life-long learning process.

Wisconsin’s schools can support these goals by emphasizing central elements of entrepreneurship in their educational program across all content areas and by fostering entrepreneurship as a central element of the culture of teaching and learning.

For more information, visit The National Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education.

How Do We Educate Entrepreneurial Students?

The characteristics of the entrepreneurial spirit include traits and behaviors that are taught and reinforced across the entire school curriculum and at all levels. This entrepreneurial spirit, combined with a solid academic foundation, is essential for continued individual success and prosperity in a competitive and democratic society.

The Framework advocates that specific traits and behaviors, including inquisitiveness, creativity, leadership, and curiosity, must be developed throughout a school career so that each student is prepared for the world outside the classroom. Connecting content area knowledge with entrepreneurship will strengthen this development by creating an authentic learning context. For example, patents are often developed by professionals with expert knowledge in specific areas: new ideas in graphic design are developed by artists, and new practices in farming or sustainable living come from those with a deep love and knowledge of ecology. Specific curricular connections to the entrepreneurial process skills and business functions may be more obvious in certain career and technical education courses. However, the intent of this document is to illustrate how all educators may enhance existing content to support knowledge >and skill development in entrepreneurship.

The development of such expert knowledge, combined with specific entrepreneurial traits and behaviors, provides students the appropriate tools to develop entrepreneurial habits.


Entrepreneurship is essential for economic growth and stability. Wisconsin’s competitive edge in this global economy will be the talent it develops for innovation and entrepreneurship.  School districts must foster an environment that leads to entrepreneurial mindsets. The knowledge, attitudes, and skills students learn raise the bar in helping them develop the competence and confidence to deal with opportunities and challenges that face our state and nation.

The Department of Public Instruction, with support from the Department of Financial Institutions, has convened the Entrepreneurship Task Force to develop a framework that will guide district planning for entrepreneurship education across the curriculum. Elements of entrepreneurial literacy for PK-12 education in Wisconsin will be identified to capture, nurture, and develop the innovation and creativity in each student.

Educational advocates and leaders, including teachers from multiple disciplines, business and community representatives, and entrepreneurs from across the state were appointed to the task force.  Three task force meetings are being held to achieve the following goals:

  • Define entrepreneurial literacy and its role within the curriculum
  • Identify student entrepreneurial knowledge, skills and dispositions
  • Create a framework to support programs, instruction, and learning

National Content Standards for Entrepreneurship Education

The National Content Standards for Entrepreneurship Education website is designed to give you the standards and Performance Indicators framework necessary for developing curriculum for entrepreneurship programs as a lifelong learning process. The website provides also provides resources containing background information on Entrepreneurship Education and the Lifelong Learning Model for Entrepreneurship Education, sample applications of the standards, and information about the research used to develop the standards.