Tag Archives: entrepreneurship

Why We Should Teach Kids to be Entrepreneurs

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of marrying a wealthy business owner, and when I got older, I dreamed of becoming a successful business owner, but teachers and family had other plans for me. They wanted me to attend university and have a career as a doctor or dentist. Helping people and changing lives appealed to me, but being around sick people or staring at teeth all day did not. When I finally decided to step out of the box and become an entrepreneur, I discovered all my years of schooling weren’t enough to fulfill my dream.

Employee vs entrepreneur

School taught me how to be an excellent employee. I went from obeying the teacher to obeying the boss, from taking six classes a day to working set hours. I performed according to expectations and job requirements, and challenged myself to leave my comfort zone when it meant a pay raise or getting fired. Having a job and a career were great – I really enjoyed my writing career after I graduated from university. However, it didn’t bring me any closer to fulfilling my dream.

Now that I have my own business, I’ve realized that there are entrepreneurship skills that school doesn’t teach you that are relevant no matter what career you choose for yourself. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs, including Richard Branson and Henry Ford, were not known for having a shining academic performance.

Students who are well behaved, complete their homework, and perform well on tests are praised by their teachers. Students like Branson who struggled with dyslexia, or who found schoolwork boring, or generally didn’t fit the good student stereotype, were given assistance so they could fit closer to this stereotype. A friend who failed in school because it didn’t challenge him now owns two flourishing side businesses. Perhaps, in addition to the current school curriculum, children should be taught entrepreneurship from an early age. Entrepreneur wannabees would benefit from these skills, but students seeking careers would benefit also.

Leadership and communication

Two of the most important entrepreneurship skills are leadership and communication. Children who lead by example and communicate effectively are known for their charisma and optimism. Peers are drawn to their ability to make decisions and have a clear vision of their objectives, such as making teams and establishing rules for a game. They are able to convince others why building a sandcastle would be a fun activity.

These leaders are the type of friend who will listen to your problems and show understanding, or offer advice if needed. I remember a popular girl in my grade three class. Everyone liked her. She was always smiling, and when you spoke to her, it seemed like you were the only person in the world.

I have never heard anyone say that they admire their bossy supervisor. But I’ve heard how much people admire leaders who get their hands dirty and treat their coworkers as part of a team of equals. That’s similar to a child who makes the extra effort to make the new student feel welcome, and encourages classmates to do the same.

An example of how leadership can inspire others is acclaimed speaker and author Adora Svitak. She advocated kids to take action about academic and environmental concerns and has also spoken for causes such as feminism and literacy. Her Ted Talk “What Adults Can Learn From Kids” has received more than 4 million views and established her as a prodigy by the age of 12.

The ability to sell yourself

Not everyone likes to sell, or become a salesperson, but everyone should learn how to sell to be successful in life. Before the age of 18, children have done various jobs, from opening a lemonade stand to paper routes, to mowing lawns, to baby sitting. It’s a way to experience bookkeeping as you track sales, as well as selling your wares and skills to customers. If you know what you’re good at, there is a way to sell it.

Moziah Bridges was 11 when he started to sell his bow tie creations on Etsy. He had learned to sew from his grandmother. He’s made more than $600,000 in sales and continues to grow his business with a seven figure deal with the NBA to make bow ties for 30 professional basketball teams.

Evan of EvanTube reviews toys and covers topics that interest other kids his age through the use of video recordings. He makes more than one million per year with his brand, and he’s not even ten years old.

Having the ability to sell can start at a young age, and be just as valuable when you’re an adult. If you can convince someone that you have what it takes to do a job, you will ace a job interview. If you can show someone that you have the personality and qualities that he or she is looking for, you will do well on a first date.

Finding opportunities

Teaching children about entrepreneurship includes teaching them about how to weather financial difficulties. If they would like money to buy a new outfit or video game, they will be unafraid to speak with neighbours, friends, and family members to make some cash by shovelling snow, painting a fence, or selling a toy collection they no longer want. We can also teach children to see opportunities instead of problems. For example, if they receive an allowance, they may be seeing only the problem if they have only $100 in allowance money and the toy they want to buy is $130.

The creator of Nay Games, 14-year old Robert Nay, learned how to code through research at the public library. He programmed “Bubble Ball,” which received more than one million downloads. Nay Games now has games to help students with spelling and physics-based puzzles. Nay saw an opportunity, and followed through with it.

Learning problem solving

Children who learn about entrepreneurship also learn problem solving. They learn more than how to operate technology such as their iphone or tablet to play games or message friends when their homework is done. They learn to find solutions to their problems by tacking the situation head on.

In the case of Cory Nieves, a six year old boy became the owner of his own business after he decided he was tired of taking the bus to school. He wanted to buy a car instead because it was too cold. He sold hot cocoa, and later branched out to selling lemonade and cookies to achieve his dream and save up for college. In 2014, when he was ten years old, he was making sales of a thousand cookies a weekend.

Busy vs productive

Time management is a valuable skill when you own your own business. You learn to be productive, instead of just busy. Children who are adept at time management accomplish more, and efficiently. Instead of taking two hours to finish a homework assignment with plenty of breaks, they can finish it in one hour and have time for other tasks.

Business mentor and coach Cameron Herold has spoken in favour of having parents and teachers encourage kids to be entrepreneurs. At a Ted Talk in Edmonton, Alberta, he speaks about how he was bored and failing in school because teachers did not identify entrepreneurial traits as worth encouraging. For example, at the age of seven, he  was able to sell coat hangers at a higher price than originally expected, but negotiation was not a skill that he was taught.

 

Stories of successful kid entrepreneurs all echo a similar theme to Herold’s story: Child entrepreneurs who didn’t pay attention in school but became thriving business owners. Young teenagers who were told to set aside their business ventures until they were older, but instead continued to pursue their dream until they reached their goal or surpassed it.

My earliest brush with entrepreneurship was in grade five. One day, we were asked to bring some belongings we no longer wanted and place them on our desks at school. We walked around the class and looked for things we wanted to barter for, using our own items. A classmate had a pair of three inch tall glass boots I liked. I asked her what she wanted from my desk in exchange. Sadly, what she wanted was only worth one boot – she didn’t like the other items I had for exchange. To this day, I only have one glass boot in my display case, a reminder of my early attempts at commerce.

If you have a say in the education of a child, consider how entrepreneurship can provide them with opportunities to succeed as adults, whether they choose to have a job or own a business. One lesson that successful kid entrepreneurs have taught us is that we should never limit what we want to accomplish.

Advertisements

Rise of the Entrepreneur

You, like many others, are probably wondering what the future holds if you cannot be the writer of your own destiny. So much cannot be predicted: whether interest rates will rise or fall, whether groceries will be the same price six months from now, or whether you will get that bonus if salaries will be frozen next year.

These thoughts were on my mind when I began to watch a film about our current economic and career situation. The documentary The Rise of the Entrepreneur (hereafter called Rise), believes that becoming an entrepreneur is one way to control your own financial and professional destiny. Why work 40 hours a week to fulfill the dreams and expectations of someone else? Why fear how job stability will affect your mortgage payments?

Here is a statistic to chew on if you didn’t bring popcorn: 70% of workers want to be their own boss. You can probably relate. Think of the last time you had to work late at your supervisor’s request.  Or the time you were sweating bullets, thinking that your last job review would be your last because your boss disapproved of something you had done?

Rise has a clear solution for you, if you want job security, if you don’t want to go back to school to learn a new career, and if you don’t want technology to replace your job. Become an entrepreneur.

37be9a2

There are a few ways to become your own boss. Buy an existing business. Buy a franchise. Start a new business. Become an investor.

You’re probably thinking that you love those options. If you buy an existing business, or a franchise, everything is pretty much set up for you. If you start a new business, it’s all your own, and you get to introduce the market to your life-changing invention. You’ll get to be your own boss at last, and become one of those people you used to envy because you saw them going to the movie theatre in the middle of the work day.

However, there are high risks, especially if your business savvy is the equivalent of a five-year old’s. There are also high costs to starting and running a business. And if you don’t have a lot of money to play with, being an investor could be a scary roller coaster ride that has you gambling away your vacation.

You’re partway through the documentary at this point, wondering if they are just going to keep scaring you, or teach you some way to make that pile of bills on the kitchen counter disappear.

That’s when Rise says that network marketing is the answer you are looking for. Low risk, low investment, and it is the business school for entrepreneurs. Instead of spending 50% of your budget on marketing, as you would for a traditional business, you can tap into your network using word of mouth advertising. Your network would also reach out to potential clients and demonstrate the product for you, so you don’t have to create expensive ads about the benefits of your product.

Alarm bells go off in your head. You’ve heard about network marketing before. Your friend tried it and didn’t make any money. He’s still working 9 to 5 with only a two week vacation. He told you it’s a pyramid scheme in which the people at the top suck money from the people at the bottom, meaning only the people at top achieve their financial dreams. The people at the bottom continue to slave away for years, never achieving financial freedom.

But wait. There is another comparison to consider. In a typical large corporation, it’s the CEOs and top managers who make the big salaries. Those at the top are the smallest percentage of the total staff. The largest percentage are at the bottom of the salary pyramid – the clerical staff, trainees, and assistants. Most of these people will never become a highly paid senior manager, especially if the company is large.

Rise says that many successful business people endorse network marketing. In a separate link from the documentary, I found a list of well-known people who believe in network marketing. The names include Robert Kiyosaki, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Jim Rohn, Les Brown, Tony Robbins, Sir Richard Branson, Tony Blair, Donald Trump, and Bill Clinton. All of these people, whether you like or dislike them, are financially successful. The host of the show, Eric Worre, is also successful.

The last part of the documentary provides four points to help you decide which network marketing company to join. First, you should decide if the product or service meets a need in the marketplace and is priced to sell. Second, you should examine the company and how well it is run and if you like the management. Third, you should check its compensation plan. Can you make an income quickly? And depending on your financial goal,  can you make a reasonable part time or serious full time income from it? Lastly, you need to look at the support you will be receiving in terms of training and business tools.

There is no magical solution to ensuring a stable financial future. But if you are willing to learn new skills, and invest the time, the documentary makes a strong case that becoming an entrepreneur is the route to choose.