Think back to the time you had your first thoughts about working for yourself by creating a business.
You probably followed your dream and started a lemonade stand out on the front curb, began delivering newspapers so you’d have some spending money, or borrowed Dad’s lawnmower to take your lawn care service to the neighbors.
In it’s early and very basic form, entrepreneurship means you have an idea of a way to earn some money and you act on that idea or follow through to the point that you do the work and reap the reward.
Though there may have been a little risk involved, and few operational details to fret over, young entrepreneurs that start a business stand to learn extremely valuable lessons about planning, allocating resources, money management, work scheduling, customer service, and work ethics that will serve them well for the rest of their lives.
I think parents (and adult customers of these youth enterprises) ought to do all they can to encourage and motivate young business-minded people to act on their dreams, to explore the world of business and self-guided work creation.
Young people may never have the opportunity to “test the water” of working for themselves during their formal education years (K-12 and college.) Personally, I think the American school system needs to do a much better job of exposing young people to small business careers and the paths that might lead interested youth toward self-employment.
In fact, it’s a shame that more school administrators don’t make classes and curriculum in small business entrepreneurship available to students that show a sincere interest.
I saw statistics from a study by the Kaufmann Foundation recently that were quite surprising, and at the same time, somewhat encouraging. Of 3,000 young students (ages 8-12) surveyed, 41% said they had thought about starting their own businesses.
Some of the most common reasons given for wanting to start a business were “to follow my dream” and “to help other people.”
As I recall, nearly 70% of these young entrepreneurs stated that they knew small businesses “made new jobs for others.”
Think about the good in our society that could come from young people learning about and applying small business skills.
Think of the benefits of this early preparation and learning period to our nation’s youth as they hit the workforce!
Think of the side benefit of getting young kids off the streets and meaningfully becoming engaged in exciting and challenging work that could supplant boredom, gang activity, delinquency, and wasting time just “hanging out” with peers.
The next time your child or another youngster mentions earning money, wouldn’t it be a great time to sit down with them and talk about how to make their dream a reality?
Anyone that cares to look at the statistics in an objective way knows that the failure rate of new start-up small businesses is very high. I believe that a major contributing factor to business failure is the lack of education / training / experience in small business execution that most new business owners bring to the table. They are not properly prepared to assume the role of business owner.
But what if the young people of our society were trained and given opportunities to have internships and be mentored by successful small business owners? What if the formal education system offered training and classes in subjects that were directly important to running a small business?
I would encourage you to think about ways that you might help, guide, and support young people that have a desire to go into business for themselves. I have always considered running a small business as a journey into the unknown. It is not so much a destination (to have your own business) as it is a trek toward self sufficiency, a crusade to becoming your own master.
To your online business success!