What do kids know about being entrepreneurs? Turns out their curiosity about the world around them, natural creativity, willingness to take risks and unbridled enthusiasm add up to the characteristics shared by great business leaders. But after we close down our neighborhood lemonade stand, outgrow our baby-sitting empire and shut down our lawn mowing business, we often lose our entrepreneurial instincts.

Youth entrepreneurship is booming in the United States. Websites are popping up all over the Internet with resources, blog sites and stories on how the next generation of entrepreneurs is turning passions into profit.

“Entrepreneur Inc.” magazine recently devoted an issue to 14 of the top nationwide young entrepreneurs that made from $5 to $54 million in revenues with their start-up ventures in 2011.

 An annual ongoing survey conducted by Harris Researcher indicated that a large majority of our youth want to be their own boss. Overall, 72 percent of youth ages 8 to 21 years old said they have the ability and desire to successfully launch their own business. More than 75 percent of our high school students consider owning and operating a business as one of their top three career choices.

Entrepreneurship is becoming a viable alternative for our young people who may not be interested in a traditional liberal arts college education. Entrepreneurship training in tandem with career technical education training is a dynamic combination that provides young adults the skills to apply their technical knowledge, like graphic design, and strengthen it with business knowledge.

Napa Valley College is responding to the demand of educating the next generation of entrepreneurs. Funding through California Community Colleges Economic Workforce Development has allowed NVC to grow the Napa Youth Entrepreneurial Program or “YEP.” Napa Valley College Business and Entrepreneurship Center (BEC) provides resources, including counseling and training to youth.  

This June, NVC is hosting the fifth annual Business Boot Camp on the main campus, June 18 to 22 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The NVC Business Boot Camp is a five-day program that will train students, ages 14 to 27, in a hands-on environment. Camp participants will have the opportunity to learn the skills needed to start and operate a business including: researching a business idea, analyzing your competition, understanding e-commerce, developing promotional materials, understanding financials and presenting plans.

The college’s BEC instructors and local business leaders will guide participants in teams. The Business Boot Camp is also sponsored by many local businesses and includes guest visitors and field trips to local businesses.

For the more artistic younger entrepreneurs, NVC is also hosting the third annual Digital Arts Camp at New Tech High June 11-15 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Participants will have a full day of hands-on training in digital arts and media.

The cost for either camp is $200, and financial scholarships are available for students (14 to 27) interested in attending the training.

For more information on programs for youth entrepreneurs, contact Napa Valley College Small Business Development Center at 253-3210 or visit BECatNVC.org.

Beth Pratt is director of Career Technical Education Programs at Napa Valley College. Reach her at epratt@napavalley.edu or 253-3113.


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