We analyzed what successful school principals do.

They all share five entrepreneurial characteristics.

As a principal, do you think of yourself as an entrepreneur?
Do you think of the school you lead as a type of business - with stakeholders, budget, goals, and mission?

The most successful principals have an entrepreneurial spirit and run their schools in a way that shows they recognize they are in fact running a business.

So, what do school principals - who embody entrepreneurial qualities - think about entrepreneurship?

But more importantly, how does their thinking show up in their actions?

One thing’s for sure:

Labeling themselves entrepreneurs isn’t enough. They walk the walk and act with the agility, vision, and the dedication of an entrepreneur.

Imagine the impact this could have on your school, your staff, and especially your students.

Imagine if you modeled what makes entrepreneurs great: giving everything you have when the going gets tough and never giving up.

Today’s principals need practical, real-world strategies on how to help their schools navigate through the new era’s trends.

We have five ways to do just that.

Let’s dive in.

Entrepreneurs are AGILE.

Entrepreneurs refuse to allow obstacles to hinder their goals. When facing a new challenge, the right kind of school leader will search for new ways to overcome any task.

What does this look like for you?

Let’s say your school is dedicated to college preparation. For years now, you’ve set the values and mission of your school to align with future-focused, 21st-century skills.

But why won’t enrollment follow suit?

Any good entrepreneur knows that attempting to attack the same problem from the same direction is the definition of insanity.

So what does she do to make a change?

Here’s one way:

Study social media management and understand whether this new channel can help you attack the problem from a different direction:

  • Use 21st-century tools to tackle a problem that’s been plaguing schools for decades.
  • Use Facebook marketing techniques.
  • Use Instagram to spread your school’s brand.
  • Tweet the ways your school is working to make a difference.

Then spread your mission like wildfire.

Encourage students, teachers, support staff, and especially parents to join the action. Use a central message to highlight your school’s brand above the competition.

Entrepreneurs are (calculated) RISK-TAKERS.

Taking risks is the essence of entrepreneurship. On top of that, there are risks involved in hiring employees, marketing strategies, and even customer service.

Some of the world’s leading entrepreneurs are thought of as excessive risk takers. Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Atlantic Airways, is one of them. A little-known fact is that he negotiated with Boeing for the ability to return his first plane, no questions asked, before launching the airline. He had taken a calculated risk, not an excessive one.

A few calculated risks:

Shake up a staff meeting.

  • Invite staff members to bring their best suggestions and lead the meetings.
  • Cancel a meeting entirely if it has no impact. Instead, send out the agenda in an email, and give teachers more time in their day for productivity.
  • Opt for a standing 5-minute huddle instead of a normal meeting.

Put a new spin on your Open-House.

  • Host a bake sale, but donate your proceeds to a charity of your student’s choosing.
  • Invite students to take the lead, and provide tours to prospective families while sharing your school’s mission.

Revamp Curriculum Night.

  • Digitize it! Using Loom or Screencastify, share the essential parts of your school’s curriculum with the world through an online video community.

  • Cover the walls of your gymnasium with chart paper and invite families to share their favorite memories of school. Have plenty of Expo markers on hand, then ask families what they want to learn this year.

Entrepreneurs aren’t afraid of collaborating and taking a calculated risk when they believe in their school’s mission.

Entrepreneurs BUILD CAPACITY.


  • Acquiring and retaining exemplary talent is a fundamental aspect of an entrepreneur’s mission.
  • For your school, dedicated teachers and staff help you set a standard for 21st-century classrooms.
  • You can make this happen.
  • Take on the role of an entrepreneur in your school, and build a roster of educators with passion and vision.

Try these:

  • Create “Teacher of the Month” certificates.
  • Offer “Dress down” or “Dress up” days.
  • Give teachers an “hour off” by taking over their classroom.
  • Use social media to highlight their achievements.

An amazing thing happens when YOU work hard to showcase the talents of others: they’ll want to work hard for you

Entrepreneurs have VISION

Let me guess... you work hard on building a brand you believe in. School leaders are motivated by their values. Reflect on your school’s vision and mission, and highlight the best ways to make that happen.

What does your five-year plan look like?

What are your non-negotiables?

What are you gripping that you need to let go of?

Use an app like Dream It Alive to create a vision board for your goals. Set the sharing to public, and encourage your teachers and staff to share their goals and professional visions.

Put it all together

So what does this mean for you?

How can you apply at least one of the strategies you’ve just read about to be an even stronger change agent for your staff and school community?

Which one of these strategies could have the greatest impact on your school enrollment?

We know you have the skills to encourage entrepreneurial qualities in others and enact significant change for your school.

It’s all about how you use those skills.