I wish I’d been taught entrepreneurship for a lot of reasons when I was young.
What I thought about my potential career as a farm boy in Idaho was I didn’t want to be poor when I grew up. My grandpa, who was a successful doctor, proposed that I become an anesthesiologist, and as if it were a scripture, I latched on his counsel.
But if I had known that I had been wired early to be an entrepreneur, I would have approached my college years with a better sense of who I was, and had a more focused plan.
What we stand to lose by not teaching children’s business, I think there are countless people wired to be entrepreneurs who, due to lack of opportunity, get trapped on a road that prevents them from capitalizing on their gifts. This is our mistake as much as theirs — imagine if Elon Musk had been firmly pinpointed as a child in a non-entrepreneurial direction and ended up as a drug company’s CFO rather than an auto industry revolutionizer, space travel, and payment systems.
There are Elon Musks out there that won’t make their mark because they weren’t planting the entrepreneurial seed when it was the greatest opportunity to take root and grow.
There are lots of kids like me who will never tap into their abilities because they have been told that they have no ability, or because they have had a hard time following the rules.
Most styles of entrepreneurs are historically deficient about orthodox behaviour. They have an innate ability to think outside the box, which can make intensely boring conventional methods rigidly. Once children are bored, they begin to act out. They’re not paying attention, just suffering from their grades.
But even children without loads of entrepreneurial ability will benefit from a business education. Some of the small companies struggle when people find out that they don’t have the right way to do business. They try to start their own companies and it becomes a major financial (and emotional) disappointment when it doesn’t work out.
How anyone will profit from learning business skills I had a business sign company in my 20s, and I particularly remember one customer.
He was brimming with excitement when I first spoke to him on the phone about what kind of sign he’d need. He was energetic and articulate, which looked like the making of a success story.
I then went into his shop. We shook hands and I saw a huge array of mobile phones as I looked to my right. I saw a large show of specialty soaps as I looked to my left.
My client excitedly explained that to bankroll his new company he would cash out his 401(k). He was animated to explain how his wife liked specialty soaps when he got a mobile phone blow.
He asked me to imagine it: you walk into a specialty soaps shop and decide that you can kill two birds with one stone as well as buy a mobile phone. Or maybe you’re in the mood for a new mobile phone — why don’t you pick up a bar or two of fragrant luxury soap while you’re there?
I was myself a business noob back then, but even so his proposal sounded a little odd to me. The guy was twice my age; I assumed his advanced years gave him some special insights.
There are over 30 million small companies in the U.S., employing about 58 million people, earlier is better than later for a business education. It’s insane that in their formative years, when their minds are open to everything and they consume information with a pace and permanence they’ll never experience again, a topic so important to our economy is not introduced to our people.
Thirty million is an enormous amount. Even if your children eventually decide not to open a company, there is a very good chance they will end up working for one.
So many young people see business as a mixture of bland and daunting suits and ties and spreadsheets. We don’t see it for what it is simply — a artistic project that can be as fun and satisfying as art forms such as film and literature.
I made an appointment with a counsellor after two weeks in class. I was a premeditated student but I hated biology and was exhausted by the workload already. I said it was because I didn’t want to be mediocre when the counselor asked why I decided to be an anesthesiologist.
She explained kindly there were plenty of ways not to be wrong. I wish someone had told me in kindergarten that entrepreneurship was one of them.