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Spread the word about entrepreneurship

Clearly this country needs more successful entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship is an exceptionally difficult profession, but it is also one of the most rewarding. Entrepreneurs take care of their staff and their families all while building a legacy through their work and contributions. The bottom line is entrepreneurs make a difference in so many lives.

Jerry Osteryoung
Jerry Osteryoung

One of the most satisfying things to see is a new entrepreneur come into their own. As with many other things, an entrepreneur’s confidence increases exponentially the longer they are in the role, and I have watched this progression many times.

One lady I was assisting had me convinced that running a business was not her cup of tea. She just had no self-confidence at all. If I had been asked to make a prediction, I would have said she would throw in the towel and walk away from the business. But I was wrong. She learned her business and blossomed in the role. Now she is the epitome of self-confidence. The business was the vehicle that allowed her to find her confidence.

Though entrepreneurship is vitally important to our country, it gets very little recognition. In fact, many people do not even realize it is a viable occupation. Many times while at FSU, students would tell me they did not know that they could major in entrepreneurship or even that it was a valid and valued profession.

I think every entrepreneur has an obligation to spread the word about entrepreneurship both to ensure our country remains great as well as to help people find a better way of life.

For the past three years, I have taught entrepreneurship at the Youth Automotive Training Center in Deerfield Beach. The school was founded by Jim Moran as a way to give back to the community and help put troubled kids on a path to success. My role was to introduce entrepreneurship as a profession. What was surprising to me was that so many of these kids had no idea running your own business rather than going to work for someone else was an option.

Recently, I was contacted by the Gadsden Correctional Facility and was asked to give a series of classes on entrepreneurship. Initially, I was hesitant because I had no idea if this audience would be receptive to what I needed to tell them. And quite frankly, going to prison was not exactly what I thought I would be doing at this stage in my life. However, despite these concerns, I agreed.

A minimum-security prison encircled with razor wire, this facility holds 1,500 women inmates. There are many checks before you are let in, and each time I go, I am given an ID card and a special alarm to wear on my belt. If I am ever knocked down, the alarm will be tripped and the entire facility will be notified.

It has been a memorable experience as much for the novelty of the situation as for the people I have had the opportunity to work with. I was completely hooked after the first class. They are better students than many I have taught and they really want to learn — more than many of my FSU students. They are engaged, respectful and they just know this is what they need to do to provide for themselves and their family. I can truthfully say that I look forward to this activity every week as I am giving these women hope and knowledge for their futures.

Now go out and consider how you can help spread the word about the importance of entrepreneurship and how to get into this field. There are countless venues where you can do just that. Junior Achievement, for example, is always looking for volunteers to teach entrepreneurship in the public and private school systems.

You can do this!

Go to Links Other small business advice columns from Dr. Osteryoung are here. Note: Articles older than 30 days require registration (it's quick and free).

Jerry Osteryoung is a consultant to businesses - he has directly assisted over 3,000 firms. He is the Jim Moran Professor of Entrepreneurship (Emeritus) and Professor of Finance (Emeritus) at Florida State University. He was the founding Executive Director of The Jim Moran Institute and served in that position from 1995 through 2008. His newest book co-authored with Tim O'Brien, "If You Have Employees, You Really Need This Book," is an Amazon.com bestseller. He can be reached by e-mail at jerry.osteryoung@gmail.com.