Entrepreneurship Lessons in a Greenhouse

The Best Place to Teach a Growth Mindset

We sometimes get strange looks when we describe our entrepreneurship spaces at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy because after mentioning our fully-commercial teaching kitchen, we explain that it is built on the back of a 4,000 square foot greenhouse.

“It’s an entrepreneurship space?” people ask. “More than that,” we reply, “it’s a part-classroom, part-business, part-innovation space, part-maker’s space, and all parts entrepreneurship.”

Teaching the growth mindset is foundational to teaching entrepreneurship and I can think of no better place to teach this than in a space dedicated to real-time displays of flourishing growth. But the space also illustrates a key point about growth—if not directed, growth can get out of control.

Consider the tomato plant. In the greenhouse, we grow “indeterminate” tomatoes which means they can grow to fill the space provided. It also means they grow like crazy—and in every direction. If left unchecked, the indeterminate tomato plant will grow out, over, up, and under, filling up all nearby space. The plant will focus so much on growth solely for the sake of growth that it will produce less fruit.

For this reason, tomato plants must be heavily pruned. Their suckers must be removed, and the bottom leaves must also be cut off, leaving only the top to grow in one clear direction—vertical. Because of this intentionality, the tomato plants will grow well over twenty feet tall and will produce incredible harvests all through the growing period.

The lesson is clear—growth for the sake of growth can often lead to less fruit. Directional growth that is pruned with intentionality, however, will more than exceed expectations. And this is the type of growth we seek with the entrepreneurial mindset.

When we tether our growth to a clear vision and when we operate out of a defined mission with stated core values, our growth will not only be healthy and life giving, but will know no limits. Coupled with grit, the ability to redefine failure, and the desire to seek opportunity, we become unstoppable.

Reach out to connect.

Our tomato plants at the height of their season

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Every Monday, I send a short thought directly connected to teaching the entrepreneurial mindset in a school setting. The content is curated from the ten year growth of our entrepreneurship and sustainability program here in Cincinnati, OH where we operate six student-run businesses, fifteen elective courses, and a fully-developed certificate track.

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Imagine your culture infused with growth mindset, grit, redefining failure, and opportunity seeking. Imagine your team acting and thinking like entrepreneurs.

Stephen Carter