Most kids show a bit of a want for business at some point in their lives. Whether spurred on by the age-old lemonade stand or Lucy’s Psychiatric Help booth, most of us at some point tried our hand at making a bit of money.
My own ingenious idea was to rearrange my room into a shop and add some homemade labels to my possessions with, what I thought, were thoroughly decent prices. While my parents politely browsed my wares they did not part with any of their hard earned cash. I shut up shop before the day was out and returned to my engineering interests with a box of lego.
While it probably can’t be suggested that kids turn their rooms into places of business permanently, it certainly is a good idea to encourage them when they turn their hand at entrepreneurship. It’s something that should play a bigger part in schools too. This isn’t about turning every child into the next Richard Branson, this about the skills and expertise they’ll learn from giving it all a really good go.
First of all, entrepreneurship teaches kids that there are always alternatives out there. You don’t have to accept the fact that you’ll be working for someone else for the rest of your life. The point is that there are other options outside of the mainstream. You learn this quickly from running your own business. You’re the one in charge and you’re the one who makes all the decisions. It’s a superb way to instil into kids that there is more than one route to success.
It will also help them to develop critical thinking. Not only do they need to come up with a good business plan that must be evaluated every step of the way, but they’ll need to reassess when things go wrong and work out why. This is an important skill across many aspects of life and a great tool for dealing with the everyday problems we face.
Along with evaluating the business plan, it of course needs to actually be planned. This is a meticulous process that involves thinking about every single eventuality and having some kind of contingency in place to deal with them. This involves a lot of thought and doing it will help kids get better at planning in general.
It will also teach children the benefits of perseverance and hard work. Starting a business isn’t easy – it’s something you really have to stick at to make it succeed. But when it does, the rewards are worth it; not just in a financial sense, but in the sense of personal achievement. It goes a long way to show that by putting the effort in, you can reap amazing rewards.
So how can this be done exactly? Well, although it would be nice, it wouldn’t be feasible to give every kid some capital and let them dedicate their time to running a business. They don’t have the time with their usual studies, it would be too costly and failure might put them off the idea completely.
What is needed is a comprehensive look at entrepreneurship, how it works, how to succeed and how to get into it. While this would include some practical tasks, even a class project to run some kind of simple business over a year, education will be just as important. There should be lots of emphasis on those who have succeeded. This would look at how many of them have come from rags to riches, encountered setbacks or spent a long time working without success. The point here would be to establish the point that perseverance is key.
While also encouraging kids to think seriously about starting their own business someday, they will still learn about all the things listed above. Looking at people like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Alain Sugar will help them see that many different types of people can achieve a huge amount of success through business ventures.
There’s a lot to be learned from the history of business, even for those who have no interest in following that path in the future. Kids can see how effective these skills are and they can be taught how they are transferable to other parts of life. The world has come a long way thanks to entrepreneurial minds and we should do all we can to glean as much help and advice as we can from them. That small business spark that children show early on shouldn’t be left to die and be reignited by their own accord later, it should be continuously kept alight so that it can be used at a moment’s notice.
Joshua Danton Boyd is a copywriter for Crunch Accounting.
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