There’s no shortage of opportunity in today’s global market, despite feelings of defeat and financial worry around the world. With the right mindset and skills, coupled with the right level of ambition and curiosity, people can do anything they want to do in life. Of course, this was true 30 and 40 years ago at the height of the industrial age, but we didn’t accept that “anything was possible” back then.
While we seem to be suffering alongside a generation of people who were raised to believe they could be and do anything and have found themselves floundering through life, it is still important to encourage today’s students to consider a career in business because there is still so much work to be done. Like all things, getting the message across to young people to take up a business of their own is easier said than done. Here are several ways you can inspire students to adopt an entrepreneurial lifestyle.
Nobody likes surprises, and if today’s generations have one thing ahead of them, it’s a lifetime of surprises: finding out that life is not as easy as we promised it would be; finding out that opportunities don’t knock on your door; the cost of living is rising. It’s a hard knock life everywhere. But if you sugar coat what being an entrepreneur looks like, you attract the wrong kind of person to the field. What you want to do is prepare today’s youth with negotiation tactics for life- not just business. This provides them with an opportunity to find solutions to problems we couldn’t even imagine existing yet. And boy, do we already have a lot of problems.
If you tell it like it is, kids don’t grow up with flimsy expectations of what life should be like. They’ll understand that they have the power to change the world, but they must exercise that power — not wait around for it to knock on the door.
Try, Try Again
Entrepreneurship is about failing fast and often. Today’s youth seems to be a bit of a stranger to the concept of failing. With baseball teams handing out medals just for showing up on any given Saturday, these practices don’t exactly prepare a kid for life in the real world. But an opportunity to try their hand at entrepreneurship certainly will. Give kids opportunities to create things that solve problems in their own lives.
Encourage them to share it with their friends to get feedback. Kids don’t like to show their drawings or their creations because they don’t want to be criticised, but when done right, kids have a chance to grow and learn from iterations of anything they create. Don’t let the kids in your life accept defeat. And explain to them that if they lose, there is an opportunity to become better, learn something new or grow in a new way.
Introduce Them to Business
If you were born in the 60s or 70s, you likely spent the better part of your life working for one company. You might not have dreamed about the possibilities of owning your own shop – and if you did, you probably didn’t act on those dreams because you had a mortgage to pay and bills to cover. With mouths to feed and the fear of impending doom that loomed over the industrial age, it’s no wonder people were just keeping their heads down and trying to make it through the week.
These days, however, people are much more liberal with their time. We are hyper-aware of our short time on earth and try to make conscious decisions about what we are doing with our time. No one does this better than the business owner. If you want to encourage kids to think about life as a business owner and entrepreneur, they need to be exposed to that kind of lifestyle. They need to see that kind of work and opportunity that goes into and comes from such a life.
Many parents and adults don’t give themselves enough permission to pursue the things they want in life. Again, bills need to get paid, and homes need to be cleaned. But when a child or youth is excited about an idea, they’ll turn to the adults in their lives for confirmation of their ideas. Take it upon yourself to encourage those ideas and to give permission for trying new things.
Don’t discourage youth from failing. Don’t deter them from putting themselves in the face of the unknown. These are all things we do as adults and try to shield kids from to protect them, but when they are grown up and running their own business, there will be no one to defend them. They need to understand that they need to have their own back, and you permit them to do that.
Don’t Tell Them to Get a Job
As young people grow up, they will feel the overwhelming pressure to “get a job” and move out. While the moving out part is great – for everyone – not all people need to “get a job.” Some can create a job for themselves. Don’t make the mistake of encouraging the false notions of “security” in a 9-5… we all know that job security has gone out the window in many places. Instead of using “job” language, encourage them to work in whatever way feels good to them.
Not everyone is going to be cut out for starting and running a business, but if the youth in your life are already talking about the empire they are going to build, don’t chalk it up to silly ideas and tell them to get back to their homework. Listen to them, provide them with ideas, and support them in any way you can. The world needs more young people to get into business. But they won’t do it if we keep telling them they need to “just get a job already.”