Oct 3

Entrepreneurship: Reality Check For Kids

There are tons of amazing stories about successful entrepreneurs who describe their business journeys in bright colours. However, not many come forward to share what didn’t work and why their businesses failed. While entrepreneurship trends are increasing among youth*, with 9 out of 10 generation Z students planning to run their own business, full time of part time, it is important to show the big picture to future kid entrepreneurs and do a reality check.

Most of the time the story goes like this: “I’ve been living my life like many other people, then XYZ happened and an idea came to my mind. I decided to do ABC and after an x amount of time I achieved this.” It often sounds like a fairy tale which hides a lot of lows and only shows the highs. Yet, there are many businesses that didn’t make it and we don’t know about them.

Here’re the facts about start-ups which may not be quite the same for small businesses, yet we can confidently conclude that the trends are similar:

  • 90% of start up businesses fail.
  • 10% of startups fail in the first year.
  • The first biggest reason why they fail is misreading market demand, the second biggest reason is running out of funding or personal money.

Do these numbers tell us not to risk starting a business? No! They tell us inspirational stories that despite of the statistics, there are entrepreneurs who ventured, failed and succeeded either by being persistent, like J. K. Rowling, the author of Harry Porter series, or by learning from their mistakes and overturning failures to successes, such as Milton Hershey, the founder of the Hershey Company.

These were ordinary people who had big dreams and were unstoppable in achieving them. And if we were lucky to interview any of them today, it’s likely they’d say that their journey from A to B was not a straight upward arrow, but many zigzags that pulled them backwards, but they found inner motivation to move forwards.

Thus, when teaching entrepreneurship to children, it is important to share that they can do everything right yet fail for many different reasons. But this should not be the end of their entrepreneurial story. They need to have curiosity to learn what has not worked and commit to try again until they are satisfied with the results. One of the world’s most famous inventors Thomas Edison used to say “I have not failed 10,000 times—I've successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work”. This is a great approach to embracing failures and making them a part of learning.

I am an activist of introducing children to money matters when they show interest in learning how money is managed and earned. And I want kids to know that even with good business and marketing education, enterprising talents, resources and support you need to be prepared to accept that one day your efforts may not pay off straight away. You may need to persevere, take a step backward, think about missteps, make changes, talk to your parents or carers and ask their feedback, and continue your entrepreneurial journey.

On a personal note, I failed a business which I started for the sake of money making. I copied my previous business model which worked great, but was not applicable to the new market segment. And while it was a financial failure, I learnt a valuable lesson – never start a business to earn money. Start it to make an impact, change people’s lived or the world for better.

Draw on your talents, stay true to yourself and pursue your passions. And while there is no guarantee that money will find a quick way to your wallet, it will be a rewarding journey that will fill you with life lessons and show what you are good at so you can sharpen your strengths and go full power towards your dreams. Just don’t give up and eventually you’ll become one of those successful entrepreneurs sharing your personal story and inspiring others.

* Mccrindle, Equipping Students for the new world of work, Infographics, 2022 and Understanding Generation Alpha
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