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Start up your future: Teaching for today’s entrepreneurial business culture

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(BPT) – Every year Christine Rainwater asks her Washington, D.C.-based undergraduate business students the same question on their first day of class: are any of you interested in starting a business?

“Ten years ago, I would only get two or three students to raise their hands,” said Rainwater, a DeVry University professor and president of the Small Business Advisory Firm. “Now, the majority of my students do – and some share ideas even before class begins. It really represents a new mindset as students take a more entrepreneurial approach to learning. I think they’re surrounded by fast-growing startups like Uber and GrubHub, and they feel inspired to quickly bring their own business ideas to life.”

open for biz

Business enterprise shows like Shark Tank, Beyond the Tank, and How I Made My Millions are indicative of a bigger business trend: renewed growth in small business and startup ventures. According to the 2015 Kauffman Index of Startup Activity and National Trends, the Startup Activity Index rose in 2015 – reversing a downward trend that began in 2010 – allowing the largest year-over-year increase in the past twenty years.

“Students see new, successful companies run by young creatives whose passion propelled them to success faster than climbing the traditional corporate ladder,” said Rainwater. “Not only is this inspiring more people to do the same, but it’s encouraging a whole new type of student to head back to school looking for resume-building experience that can jump-start job prospects right out of the program.”

Shaping a New Culture of Entrepreneurs
Today’s college student is different than past generations. In fact, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly 75 percent of undergraduate students today could be considered “non-traditional.” They are often busy, working adults that have to balance the demands of school, work and family life.

Several non-traditional students need colleges that can fit into their busy schedules of work and family responsibilities. Moreover, many are coming back to school because they want to advance their current career or move to a new field quickly. Non-traditional students want their degree to speak for itself, demonstrating their capabilities and value.

That’s why Rainwater puts hands-on learning at the center of her curriculum.

“In my Senior Projects course, I challenge my students to explore their own neighborhoods, develop business plans for local companies and even kick-start businesses of their own,” she said. “It’s always rewarding to see their eyes light up when they first come up with a viable idea, or see the impact they’ve made in their communities.”

The approach has given students real-life experience and has encouraged collaboration with local organizations. Online grocery store Relay Foods enlisted the help of Rainwater’s students to revamp their salsa canning and distribution plan. As a result, the students were able to help the grocer increase brand awareness and customer appeal for their signature salsa. Another student turned her passion for making premium homemade soap into a business, eventually turning the side job into an online boutique.

The Benefits of Breakthrough for Rising Innovators
Outside the classroom, Rainwater is the president of the Small Business Advisory Firm, a network focused on meeting the educational, networking and program-specific requirements to compete in the federal and private-sector contracting environment.

“In the past, people had to go through an extensive process to start their own businesses,” said Rainwater. “Today, technology has removed many of the barriers that used to stand between big thinkers and entrepreneurship.”

Rainwater considers immersive learning an imperative tool for business students’ professional development. She believes that it not only fosters creative thinking and entrepreneurial spirit, but also creates a safe environment for students to build tangible skills that can be immediately implemented in the workplace – across a variety of roles and practices.

To help today’s students learn more about starting a new business, DeVry University offers a small business management and entrepreneurship degree specialization within its College of Business & Management. At the graduate level, its Keller Graduate School of Management offers an entrepreneurship concentration within its MBA program.

“Right now, U.S. startup activity is rising for the first time in five years, showing entrepreneurs are the most hopeful they have been in several years,” said Rainwater. “And the beauty of these entrepreneurship programs is they not only teach students how to grow businesses, but they arm them with skills to succeed when they hit obstacles along the way – setting them up for long-term success.”

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Written by Tyrone Turner

April 20, 2016 at 9:45 pm

Never Vulnerable Again!

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Hey there, folks. It has been a long while since I posted. I have been caught up with working, being a family man, training in martial arts, and trying to get more fun and rest in. In the past two years or so is the first time in several years that I didn’t have some sort of a side business to supplement my 9 to 5 income.

My 9 to 5 situation has become a little shaky recently after I suffered an injury that has really side-lined me. I needed surgery and all. Now, money is a little tight in my household. We’re getting by, but our quality of life has diminished.

multiple streams

Why am I even telling you all of this?

Not for sympathy and not because I’m going to set-up a GoFundMe page to ask for donations or anything like that, but rather to give you a warning by example to not put all of your eggs in one basket.

That is to say don’t rely solely on your income from your job. Things can change quickly and an employee can be fired for no reason or any reason at all (except if discrimination can be proven) in 49 out of 50 states — Montana being the exception.

I strongly encourage you find something that you can do on the side to create some “cushion cash” in case something changes at your job. Learn from my mistake of becoming too comfortable. As a martial artist and past recreational boxer, I should know that I did in fact violate rule number one: Protect yourself at all times.

I am going to get back into teaching martial arts classes again after I fully recover from my injury. But what I’m really looking to do, is to create passive, recurring income. A friend of mine from Texas, named Esther, told me about a cool side business that I can operate from home. I also have realized that there are numerous tax benefits in that I can write-off a lot of the money I was already spending as classify those expenditures as business expenses. That way, I will get a larger tax return next year. It is sort of like double-dipping in that I am increasing my income and keeping more money in my pocket because I have a smaller tax bill. That is cool.

I’m building a strong fortress that the Big Bad Wolf of injury and lost pay cannot blow down.

I plan to never be vulnerable again!

Please, take care of yourself and learn from my mistake.

Thank about your current hobbies and see if you can monetize it. It will create another source of income and help you stay afloat if something happens to your job.

Thanks for your time.