The modern world relies on entrepreneurs: people who can combine society’s precious resources and create products that generate value for customers.
Unfortunately, the concept of entrepreneurship is not something that we communicate well to children, especially through the traditional education system. The focus is almost exclusively on academic achievement instead of imagination, creativity, and working to solve the problems faced by others.
The good news, however, is that there are many more resources available today that can help children and young adults take their first steps toward becoming business leaders. Here are some resources, educational opportunities, and life experiences that could help put your kid on the path to entrepreneurship.
Listen To Podcasts
While entrepreneurship is fundamentally a practical vocation, listening to a regular podcast for insightful ideas, inspiration, and motivation can help. The entrepreneurship podcasts available on the web cover all sectors, styles, and education levels, and some are marketed directly at children.
One of the leading podcasts for young people is Inspiring a Young Entrepreneur, hosted by Mark Stokes.
Stokes began the podcast after having spent more than 26 years in the corporate world. For him, the path to fulfillment wasn’t working for a boss, but striking out by himself and creating real value for the people around him. He now aims to help more young people get on the road to entrepreneurship, offering interviews, personal reflections, and candid advice on how to survive the entrepreneurial lifestyle.
Of course, nothing is stopping young people from listening to mainstream podcasts, such as The Tim Ferriss Show, Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Series, and the Millionaire Mindcast.
Enroll In Courses That Teach Entrepreneurship
Many young entrepreneurs in the past went into entrepreneurship blind, attempting to learn on the job. However, while that is the path most worn, it’s no longer the only option. There are now more courses than ever before that teach the principles of entrepreneurship, helping to prep kids for the challenges that they will face when they eventually found their businesses.
The content is more holistic than you might think. It’s not just an academic study of the phenomenon of entrepreneurship but a kind of apprenticeship where kids learn about the things matter in the real world.
Take leadership skills, for instance. These courses teach the notion that entrepreneurs should listen to and value the ideas of others. They also provide an arena in which young people can explore the problems that society faces today and how their innovation and genius can help solve them.
Schools up and down the country offer entrepreneurship classes. Harvard University has run a course since 1947. Babson College, the University of Chicago, and the University of Michigan all also have long-standing courses for college-age students.
For younger children aged seven to fifteen, Young Entrepreneur Learning Labs offers several courses that introduce kids to the concepts of business and how they can go about building their own.
Get Involved With A Volunteer Project Overseas
While learning about the concepts of entrepreneurship is important, there’s only so much that books can teach kids about becoming business leaders. Fundamentally, it’s just something that you have to strike out and do.
Just going out into the world and doing something new is a big challenge for children. Kids are used to the strict, orderly world of the school system. The voluntary business environment is fundamentally alien.
For this reason, volunteering on overseas projects can be a tremendous character-building experience. The purpose of these projects, just like entrepreneurship, is to solve problems in the real world. While it’s not about making a profit, building a team and working to a budget are part and parcel of the process, just as they are in a regular company.
Take Kaya, for instance. The organization runs more than 30 volunteering opportunities for people under the age of 18 around the world. Destinations include Bolivia, Costa Rica, Zambia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and the Philippines. Children can intern on community projects in Belize, work in Bolivia to preserve wildlife, or deliver humanitarian projects in sub-Saharan Africa.
Build A Library Of Kid-Friendly Books On Entrepreneurship
Many of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs spend their days reading. Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates of Microsoft fame all admit to being bookworms, propelled by their incessant desire to learn as much as possible about the world. Kids should, ideally, follow in their footsteps. But what kind of books on entrepreneurship are out there for children and young people?
The number of books on entrepreneurship available to kids today is quite extraordinary. For pre-K, there are classics like Camila’s Lemonade Stand by Giles Jackson, Brian Cunningham, and Lizzy Duncan, all about how even young children can turn a profit.
For slightly older children, The Making of a Young Entrepreneur: The Kid’s Guide to Developing The Mind-Set for Success by Gabrielle Williams is a good start. Teens are probably best served by reading accounts of entrepreneurs who changed the world, such as Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different by Karen Blumenthal. Other fun books for young people include The 7 Habits of Successful Teens by Sean Covey and Doreen Bloch’s The Coolest Startups in America.
Do Internships In Key Business Roles
Very few people set off as entrepreneurs as their first gig. Most want to know the lay of the land in a particular industry before venturing forth by themselves.
Internships are an excellent way for children to build up a sense of what the business world values, what is important to it, and how to serve customers.
Three areas of business stand out as internship opportunities for young people: sales, customer service, and retail. Customer-facing roles instill discipline and help young people focus on what is most important in a business role. You have to interact with customers, find out what they want, and meet their needs. If you don’t, they’ll go to a competitor.
Sales, in particular, is an essential move for any aspiring entrepreneur. The more that kids understand the minds of their customers, the better they’re able to serve them.