Target Grade Level / Age Range:

8th grade

Estimated Time:

Two 45-minute class periods


Students will understand what entrepreneurship is and how to potentially develop business ideas and solutions to real-world problems.


  • Computer
  • Projector
  • Large display screen
  • Computers or devices for group student work

Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)


  • Entrepreneurship: the process by which individuals or a group of individuals (entrepreneurs) exploit a commercial opportunity, either by bringing a new product or process to the market, or by substantially improving an existing good, service, or method of production. 
  • Entrepreneur: a person who organizes the means of production to engage in entrepreneurship, often under considerable uncertainty and financial risk. 
  • Start-up company - a business organization that is formed by an entrepreneur or a group of entrepreneurs, which is used to coordinate the process of entrepreneurship under a common ownership structure.

Background – Agricultural Connections 

An entrepreneur is one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise. Entrepreneurs are often inventors. People like Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Eli Whitney, Benjamin Franklin, and Henry Ford all came up with ideas for entirely new products and services and figure out how to make their idea marketable and turn it into a successful business.

Entrepreneurs are often innovators. They might take existing products or services and change some aspect of them such as features, size or pricing. Products and services that have seen major innovation over time include the Internet (MySpace, Facebook, TikTok), medicine (use of viruses to produce vaccines), and money (paper currency to Bitcoin).

Entrepreneurs can also be marketing entrepreneurs. The don’t change the product, but rather the way the product is perceived by consumers. 

Interest Approach – Engagement 

Imagine this. There is a global pandemic caused by a virus. This virus is spread person-to-person through the air. While not 100% effective, scientists found one of the best ways to reduce transmission of the virus was for people to wear breathable masks that tightly covered their noses and mouths. Surgical masks were found to be the most effective, but even simple cloth masks were found to be effective. Cloth masks could be washed and reused multiple times. There are more than 7 billion people on the planet, and it is recommended that everyone on the planet should wear a mask during this pandemic. 

You are skilled at sewing. You have access to cheap cloth and other supplies like elastic straps. What do you do?

That’s right! You start a business sewing masks for friends and family. As more people learn about your product you start selling the masks to a wider network of customers. You are an entrepreneur!

Imagine this. You own a second house on the lake that your family spends the month of July at. You and your family occasionally spend holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas there as well. But for the other eleven months of the year, the house sits empty. You still have to pay taxes on it and pay the mortgage. You don’t want to rent it to someone because you still want access during July and holidays. You are willing to allow for short term occupants to stay in the house. After all, it is located in an area that attracts tourists to the lake who are looking for a place to stay and there aren’t a lot of hotel options in the area. What do you do?

That’s right! You start a business like AirBnB or VRBO hosting your home to travelers and start booking guests to stay there. You are an entrepreneur!

What other problems or examples of can you think of throughout early American history? As a class, brainstorm a list on a large writing surface. 


Explain to students that you are now going to discuss some of the characteristics of entrepreneurship and the importance of entrepreneurship. Ask students to take out a notebook and capture some of the important information from the slide deck as you walk through it. Present slides 1-12. 
  1. Characteristics of Entrepreneurship
    1. Risk taking
      1. With any new venture there is a considerable amount of risk of failure
      2. Entrepreneurs should be courageous and able to evaluate risk
    2. b. Innovation
      1. Many entrepreneurships start with an innovative, new idea
      2. Entrepreneurship need to figure out how to turn that idea into a business that generates profit
      3. Entrepreneurs might introduce a new product to the market. Or they might develop a new process for existing products that is more efficient or more economical.
    3. Visionary Leadership
      1. Entrepreneurs should have a clear vision of what they want to achieve
      2. They should clearly understand the customer need their product or service is meeting. 
      3. They should have a clear idea of what resources and employees may be needed. They should guide their employees to helping achieve the vision.
    4. Open-Minded - Often, unique circumstances can be an opportunity. Entrepreneurs see opportunities and take advantage of them.
    5. Flexible - Entrepreneurs are open to change and see change as opportunity
    6. Know your product
      1. Entrepreneurs know the product or service they are offering
      2. They also know the latest market trends and how the product or service fits
      3. This allows them to make small tweaks if needed
  2. Importance of Entrepreneurship
    1. Job Creation
      1. Employment opportunities at start-up businesses are often entry level jobs
      2. Entry level jobs provide training for unskilled workers
      3. Entry level jobs provide needed experience for workers
    2. Innovation
      1. Entrepreneurs often provide new products
      2. New markets
      3. New technology
      4. Increased quality of goods and services
    3. Community Development
      1. Entrepreneurs build a larger and more diversified employment base
      2. Employment leads to higher expenditures on education, better sanitation, and increased home ownership
    4. Standard of Living Increase
      1. Communities with successful entrepreneurship businesses see overall increase income in residents
      2. Increased income increases the standard of living through consumption of various goods and services
    5. Support of Research and Development
      1. New products need to be researched and tested
      2. Entrepreneurs spend money on R&D with research institutions and universities
  3. Break the class into five groups. Give each group a case scenario. For each of the scenarios, ask student teams to brainstorm a solution to the problem and try to come up with a product or service that would address the problem. This process will take at least 30 minutes and potentially multiple class periods or out-of-class time. The teacher should determine how they want to manage this work time and what kind of coaching or assistance to guide teams of students throughout the process. As a team, students should develop an entrepreneurial business plan that answers the questions below. Ask student teams to create a multi-media presentation (PowerPoint or similar) to share their idea with the rest of the class. 
    1. What is the problem needing to be addressed?
    2. What is the proposed solution (product or service) that could be an entrepreneurial business?
    3. What is the value that this solution provides to customers?
    4. Who are the target customers?
    5. How will you test your idea – your new product or service – to see if it actually works?
    6. What information might you want to collect from customers who use the product or service to improve your product or service?
    7. How will you let customers know about your product or service?
    8. How will you attract customers to start using your product or service (adopting a new practice or switching from something they are already using)?
    9. How will this product or service make money? How much will you charge?
    10. What expenses might be involved in developing or producing the product? Or what expenses might be involved in offering the service?
    11. What key resources might you need to make this business idea successful? (office building, retail store, employees, loans and financing, etc.)
  4. In the second class period, ask each team of students to pitch their idea to the class using their multi-media presentation. Allow roughly eight minutes for each of the five student presentations. 

Did you know? (Ag facts)

  • The labor market is constantly changing. Now with the digital revolution and digital transformation being everywhere, we see all professions changing completely. Agriculture is one of the oldest sectors in the labor market if not the oldest sector but of course, agriculture is going to change as well.

Extension Activities 

  • Have students identify an entrepreneur in their community. Have them interview them with at least five of the following questions.
    • How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
    • What was your mission at the outset?
    • When did you "charter" the business?
    • How many employees?
    • What service(s) or product(s) do you offer/manufacture?
    • How do you advertise your business?
    • How do you advertise your product/service?
    • To what do you attribute your success?
    • What do you look for in an employee? The most important thing to us is that they fit into our corporate culture!
    • What made you choose your current location?
    • What kind of Corporation is your business?
    • What’s your company’s goals?
    • What is unique about your business?
    • What are your responsibilities as the business owner?
    • Does your company help the community where it is located?
    • If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?

Suggested Companion Resources 


• Hasso Plattner – Institute of Design at Stanford
• This lesson was developed with support from AgVA Foundation as well as the National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization and the CHS Foundation Educating Next Generation Agricultural Leaders Grant.


Will Fett

Organization Affiliation 

Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation

Agriculture Literacy Outcomes

  • T4.6-8.a. Compare and contrast historical and current food processing and systems
  • T4.6-8.e. Explain how and why agricultural innovation influenced modern economic systems  
  • T4.6-8.d. Discuss how technology has changed over time to help farmers/ranchers provide more food to more people
  • T4.6-8.h. Identify specific technologies that have reduced labor in agriculture 
  • T5.6-8.a. Consider the economic value of agriculture in America 
  • T5.6-8.b. Distinguish between careers in production (farmers and ranchers) with those that directly involve consumers (business and nutrition)
  • T5.6-8.c. Explain how agricultural production and trade led to the development of industrialized societies 
  • T5.6-8.h.  . Identify farm ownership in relation to processor ownership (e.g., cooperatives, corporations, vertical integration)

Iowa Core Standards

  • Social Studies 
    • SS.8.16. Analyze the role of innovation and entrepreneurship in institutions throughout early American history in a market economy.