The short answer is that they may not. Even if the parent is an entrepreneur, there is no guarantee that their kids will be, or even should be. Since many make the argument (inaccurately) that kids may never use algebra, geometry or trigonometry, then it stands to reason that not everything you learn in school will be used directly in life or career anyway. But just like with mathematics (not arithmetic), the things that a student could learn from entrepreneurship are skills that apply to many career pursuits and life skills.
First, managing money is something that every successful business person needs to be especially good at, and this type of knowledge is invaluable for managing a household as well. Since the dawn of time, managers of households and household finances were essentially running a business. None of that has really changed.
Second, the risk and reward, direct stakes and consequences that an entrepreneur must have on the line develops good habits of focus and competence. After all, if the business is yours, you’re definitely going to pay attention more and be more fastidious with all aspects of the business. That attention to detail and concern for results is something that every employer looks for in an employee. It cannot be a bad idea to develop these habits early on before one launches into a career.
Third, communication skills, and namely convincing people to do things, are an essential part of running a business, but it’s essential in everything that we do. Kids start learning this skill when they ask their parents for things, their teachers, friends, various mentors, neighbors and people in their community that they can either help or get help from. From their first job to their last one, even if they never “run a business,” they will be asking their employers and managers for raises, more work or less, more help or less, more equipment or resources, less of something else.
Then there are the customers, the regulators, the variety of community stakeholders. All employees must be able to deal with these, some of which do not have your best interests at heart, or even top of their mind…or even on the agenda. Co-workers, managers, and underlings can often be working against you. That is a part of life. With all the millions of books out there about business and sales, it’s not clear to me whether we have a real, solid, modern-day version of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” but if not…we should, or just read the original. Most of it still applies. (Though the reader is welcome to share an alternative with me.)
Lastly, but certainly not least, entrepreneurship is about finding joy, reason, love, laughter and purpose in one singular thing that every human begins to come to terms with at a very early age: failure. Not everything works. Sometimes you fall flat on your face. Athletics can teach these things to a degree. You learn to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try again…but failure in sports can often be personalized. You can take the blame; rationalize that if you’d just tried a little harder, moved a little faster, zigged left instead of zagged right…that you might have succeeded.
But in business, some of it — often a lot of it — is simply out of your control. The market changes. A competitor comes on the scene. Technology makes your idea obsolete. Trends and fashions trend in other directions. So, in entrepreneurship, you learn, just like in life, to control the things that you can control, to influence the things that you can influence, and the rest you must put in the realm of faith and positive thinking, and through it all…persistence and perseverance in the face of struggle.
What could be more important for kids to learn early on?
Butch Porter is the Co-Owner of IndED Academies, an educational enrichment and homeschool co-op enterprise in Leesburg, VA. Its launch of the 2016-2017 academic year is the “Entrepreneur Club” which will sets off on August 11 at 5:30 at the MicroED Hub in Downtown Leesburg. For more details on upcoming events, check out our calendar. Or check out the Entrepreneur Club.