Grade 6-8

What Makes an Entrepreneur?

Time: 60 mins,
Updated: August 27 2020,


Students will be able to:

  • Identify entrepreneurs by recognizing their distinguishing characteristics.
  • Describe the differences between entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship.

In this economics lesson, students will identify common characteristics of famous entrepreneurs.



Ask students if they have ever heard of Disneyland, Disney World, Mickey Mouse, Mary Poppins or Toy Story. Ask students what this list has in common. Tell them that all of these forms of entertainment have their roots in an entrepreneur named Walt Disney. Tell students they will watch a short video about the live of Walt Disney, entitled Walt Disney: Entrepreneur and Producer – Mini Bio about the life of Walt Disney. Show the video and ask the questions on Slide 2.

  • Who is Walt Disney? (creator of the Disney empire, including movie studios and theme parks; an American entrepreneur)
  • Why is he called an entrepreneur? (because he was innovative and took risks to start his own businesses)
  • What words would you use to describe the man Walt Disney? (examples should include innovative, creative, visionary, artistic, etc)


Tell students that today’s lesson will help them better understand entrepreneurship and the characteristics of entrepreneurs. Review the definition of entrepreneurs (Slide 3), the characteristics of entrepreneurs (Slide 4), and the definition of entrepreneurship (Slide 5) to ensure students understand them. Pose the following open-ended statement (Slide 6), asking students to complete it in their own words: An owner of a business is…..”. Have them make a list of the suggested endings to the statement. Explain that many entrepreneurs are concerned about the world around them and want to use their skills to improve it. In this sense, they are called “social entrepreneurs”. To better explain this concept, show the video How to Define Social Entrepreneurship – Courtney Spence. Debrief the video with the following questions (Slide 7): How would you define social entrepreneurship? (Entrepreneurs who strive to use their skills and resources to be a change agent, improving the lives of others.) Do you agree that entrepreneurs can be socially responsible while still making a profit? Answers will vary, but try to help students understand that many entrepreneurs and businesses strive to be good citizens who are socially responsible.) Can you identify people in our community who are socially responsible entrepreneurs or business leaders? (Answers will vary.) Remind students that entrepreneurship may not be for everyone; however, even those who work for others can demonstrate some of those characteristics because many companies today are seeking “intrapreneurs” to promote creativity and advancement. Use Slide 8 to explain the definition; show the video IntrapreWHO!? What is an Intrapreneur?. After viewing the video, ask students to identify some of the characteristics of intrapreneurs. (Possible answers: highly engaged, goal-oriented, curious, open-minded, courageous, etc.)

Group Activity

Tell students they will be using the terms and concepts presented in this discussion to complete a group activity. Put students in small groups and show the video on Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s Hamburgers. Have students go the same web site [INSERT HYPERLINK] to read his bio and complete the DaveThomas Entrepreneur group activity. Review student answers and respond to any questions. Ask students if they can see any similarities between Walt Disney and Dave Thomas. (Answers will vary.)

Individual Activity

Have students read Richard Branson’s Six Tips for Every Young Entrepreneur on Slide 9, and write a brief paragraph with two or three sentences on each tip showing how it relates to today’s lesson. For example, how did Walt Disney or Dave Thomas use the “things that drive them” to launch their careers? What were things that may have driven them to open their own companies or take the risk to do something different? Have students volunteer to share their answers after completing the activity. (Answers will vary.)


Have students answer the following questions in the Interactive Quiz posted on Slide 10.

  1. Identify three characteristics that can be associated with an entrepreneur. (Answers will vary.)
  2. Explain, using Dave Thomas as an example, the major differences between being an intrapreneur and an entrepreneur. (Answer: Inside innovation like at KFC as opposed to starting and running your own business.)
  3. Identify an entrepreneur from your community and defend your reasons for this choice. (Answers will vary but should be concise and show the characteristics that the local entrepreneur has and why the student sees this person as fulfilling the role of an entrepreneur.)


Activity 1

Have each student or small groups of students identify a local entrepreneur they would like to interview. Students should prepare a list of questions for teacher approval before setting up the interview. Questions should include the reason they chose this line of work, their greatest challenge on the job, and other similar questions. Once questions and the selected entrepreneur are approved, students should arrange a time to interview the person. Remind students is important to be on time, dress appropriately, and be respectful while conducting the interview. After completing the interview, have students submit a written summary of the answers and their overall experience. You may also want them to share their experiences with the rest of the class.

Activity 2

Have each students select a famous entrepreneur to research online. Be sure to approve their selection before they start the project to ensure they make an appropriate selection. You may also choose to have a select set of questions for students to answer, such as how they got started, their level/type of education, the reason they selected that business or line of work, their personal characteristics, etc. Have students write a 2-3 page paper or prepare a poster for the classroom.