Why Kids Should Be Taught Entrepreneurship Early On


It’s clear the world needs more innovation and more entrepreneurs. So how can we nurture the Alpha Generation of doers and dreamers? Here's my story of lifelong entrepreneurship, plus the problem with school and how to start teaching kids the skills they need to start their own businesses.


Do we really need more entrepreneurs?

Small businesses really are the backbone of the economy. Almost half of the US’s private sector workforce (49.2%) is employed by small business, and for the last twenty years, small businesses have been responsible for creating two out of every three (64%) of net new jobs.

Some of the most important innovations in the last century have come about because of scrappy entrepreneurs (Remember, Steve Jobs started Apple in his basement).

Small businesses also lead the way in innovation. A study conducted by the Small Business Administration found that small businesses produced 16 times more patents per employee compared to larger patenting firms.

We’ll always need doctors, lawyers, and accountants, but we sure need entrepreneurs, too.

Which is why we need to think about how we can pay it forward and help inspire, mentor, and empower girls and boys to think like early entrepreneurs.

What inspired me to be an entrepreneur

We never thought we wanted to own a business.

Some of our entrepreneurial friends had parents who owned businesses, but not ours. We decided that we wanted to make money and the only way we could achieve our goal to start our own business was simply “just do it”.

· We had to be self-motivated to work. We didn’t have a boss calling us if we were late. If I couldn’t do our work for our business for some reason, like if we were sick or had extracurricular practice , we actually paid our parents to cover for us ( and yes they accepted it)

· It was up to us to send the email letters to book appointments with prospect clients and investors. We had to have strong financial literacy to see how we were spending our allowance money, birthday money and recycling money to support our business. We didn’t qualify to get a business loan from the bank because we are minors.

· We have to keep customers happy, deal with a bunch of different personality types, sell and pitch our two businesses that we own to our current customers and new customers.

The problem with school

Grade school highly discourages entrepreneurial thinking.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that some of the most successful entrepreneurs were B students who later dropped out of college. As mentioned before, non-college graduate entrepreneurs include Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Larry Ellison, just to name a handful.


The school system wants students to focus on the task assigned, not go off and dream up their own projects or become child entrepreneurs. Following direction is rewarded, and deviating from it or colouring outside the lines, so to speak, is met with punishment.

Guidance counsellors often encourage kids to pursue traditional careers, ones that require university education. There is very little talk of starting a business. What’s interesting about our journey right now is that we are meeting adults who are telling us that traditional way of learning is not relevant for this generation and what HubPod School is doing is more realistic.

We are not saying education isn’t important, or that we are representing every teacher in every school system in the world. Of course, math, English and science are important. Of course, plenty of teachers inspire kids to follow their dreams.

Instead, we believe the school system discourages entrepreneurial thinking on a fundamental level; they prepare students to become good employees.


Entrepreneurial traits, like risk predilection and rebelliousness (a trait also common to teenagers coincidentally enough) are generally considered negative and are suppressed rather than nurtured.

Successful entrepreneur and angel investor, Dan Martel a Canadian went to jail and rehab as a teenager before starting his first business at 18 and turning his life around. Dan has said many times that computers literally saved his life. Could it be that his mentors were able to harness his reckless energy rather than condemn it? That they nurtured his rebelliousness as a quality that could be used for good instead of telling him to fall in line?

We are not going to pretend for a minute that we know more than professional educators. All we know is what we have experienced first-hand, what other people have shared about what shaped them to be child entrepreneurs, and how they teach it to their own kids.

So how do we teach kids entrepreneurship?

You may or not have children of your own, but even if you’re an uncle/aunt, or have friends with kids, you can play a role in their lives. You can inspire them to be an entrepreneur when they grow up.

Here are some key entrepreneurial traits we think as kids will work, and some ideas on how to nurture kids in your lives to become entrepreneurs:

Problem-solving

When you own a business, solving problems is a daily activity. Customers have problems. Employees have problems. Computers have problems. You can’t bury your head in the sand, you need to evaluate your options and choose a path to go down, even if it ends up being the wrong direction.

Kids are generally more impulsive than adults because they haven’t yet experienced the consequences of making bad choices.

Tips for Kids on How to Problem Solve

· Identifying the problem and talking about it

· Coming up with ideas for possible solutions

· Listing the possible benefits or consequences of each approach

· Being decisive and taking action.

· Allowing them to experience any fallout or negative consequences of their decision (as long as they are safe)


The desire to make money

Once kids are old enough, teaching them to want money isn’t hard thanks to advertising. Kids learn how awesome money is at a pretty young age.

But there’s a big difference between wanting money and wanting to make money.

Making money involves work. Kids appreciate money they’ve worked for more than money they were handed.

When we get birthday or holiday money the first thing we want to do is spend it. But the moment we made money from our own business we both wanted to save and re-invest it back into the company. Suddenly the hard-earned cash we made becomes more valuable and it’s called financial literacy.


How to sell

Instead of assigning them chores and giving them a set amount of allowance (which is teaching kids how to be employees), we encourage kids to find jobs they think need doing then negotiate a price. This is called hustling.

Selling to your dad is one thing but selling to strangers is another.

That’s why door to door sales, like selling newspaper subscriptions or chocolate bars is a valuable training ground for child entrepreneurs. It’s teaching them how to speak to grownups, to get over the fear of rejection, and to use persuasion instead of nagging to get what they want.


Customer service

Customer service goes hand in hand with sales. After all, once you’ve successfully convinced a prospect to do business with you, your job now becomes keeping that customer happy and fulfilling what you promised.

This is where jobs like cashier positions can teach customer service skills that can form entrepreneurial ideas for kids. It’s called customer engagement and be nice and accommodating to your target audience.


Tenacity

Entrepreneurs are going to struggle at some point, maybe for a long time, and some of the most successful businesspeople did not make it because they were necessarily smarter than everyone else, but because they kept pushing ahead despite setbacks. Never give up and keep pushing the doors until one of them opens for you. That’s what we did, and we remember one of the doors we pushed we could not get in. But 4 months later that same door we tried to push finally opened and created an opportunity. In business you should never have the word “no” in your vocabulary. Always identify what you think the need of the client is. It’s better those kids learn to have grit at an early age instead of having everything handed to them, never needing to push through difficulties, and then discovering later as adults that the baby gloves are off.

Creativity

Creativity is often most closely associated with art. But entrepreneurs are some of the most creative people out there. They are perhaps the only people who create their own job. Entrepreneurs need to be observant and notice what people need (demand), find a solution (supply), sell that solution at a price people will pay, make a profit, deal with competition... the list goes on. How can you teach creativity as a skill? Children should be given plenty of time for unstructured play, where they can use their imagination. Some people think technology hampers creativity but used correctly it can unleash it. Just look at games like Minecraft that encourage players to build whatever they want in a completely open, nearly infinite world. Smart phones and tablets let kids easily record their own videos. Modern technology can be used along with more traditional activities, like learning an instrument or painting, to teach kids it’s OK to let your imagination run wild and pursue your ideas. This is what happened to us we both were in lock down because school was not open. We both were really good with technology and simply wanted to make money. From designing an app to now running an international online school for kids about business all in a short time of 8 months. Insane right? But if our parents did not give us the freedom to be creative and take advantage of our talents we would be sitting here writing this blog.

Leadership

There’s more to being the boss than just bossing people around. You need to be a leader; inspiring, teaching, and motivating your employees to be the best they can be. There are ways to teach kids to be successful entrepreneurs and leaders, not by encouraging them to be a bossypants (technical term), but by setting the example for them and being a good leader yourself. You can encourage them to participate in team activities and observe how they interact with other kids. Don’t jump in if they have trouble or if another kid is being unfair. Let them work it out themselves.


Networking

One of the most valuable things for me as an entrepreneur has been the network of friends, colleagues, and influencers I’ve acquired over the years. Businesses are not created in a vacuum. Much like a child, it takes a village to raise a startup. Having a wide group of people you know, locally and internationally, online, and offline, provides a wide range of people to reach out to for advice, to pitch new ideas, to hire for positions, to make introductions. Children can be encouraged from an early age to be interested in people. It starts with having them sit in on conversations between their parents and other adults, listen, and ask questions. If you’re part of a community group or church, encourage your son or daughter to be sociable by approaching and talking to older people in addition to kids their own age. They may be naturally shy, but with practice even the most timid of children can come out of their shell and learn the value of making new connections. At HubPod School we offer a course to teach kids on how to global network. But it starts within our classroom where all the students are meeting kids from all over the world.

Conclusion

It may sound like a cliché, but kids are our future, and if you’re an entrepreneur who either has children or influences someone else’s child, it’s important to think about how we can shape them into future leaders, job creators, and successful entrepreneurs. In other words, please think of the children! Think of us.

We don’t have all the answers but what we do know is that our generation the Alpha Generation is starting a movement. These are ideas to get the discussion started.

If you want your child to learn something new than visit us at www.hubpodschool.com or email us at info@hubpodschool.com




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