The world has been turned upside down. Many things that were predictable a couple of weeks ago are now uncertain and no one really knows what the future holds. Despite the massive shift going on across the globe, you can be sure problems will keep persisting… and that is what entrepreneurs thrive on! Entrepreneurs see opportunities where others see problems. It’s the case of one man’s meat is another man’s poison. Even as the world order changes, our human needs have remained constantly the same or even increased with other needs like social anxiety emerging from the quarantine season.
One of the principles in entrepreneurship is called the “lemonade”. This comes from the phrase that when life gives you lemons, make plenty of lemonade. So, how do we harness the opportunities presented by this very unfortunate occurrence? One way is to help our children begin opening their minds to entrepreneurship. An entrepreneur is a person who takes a risk in solving a problem through organizing and managing a business venture. How do we use the season to inculcate an entrepreneurial mindset in our children?
- Go on a journey to self-discovery
What a great time to be allowed by the governments to stay at home and self-quarantine. Why not take this time as a family to go on a self-discovery drive through various home activities. By going through various activities, parents are able to spot the talents and gifting’s of their children. Could be your child is a talented musician, artist, footballer, cartoonist, and it just took you this moment of isolation to pick that talent out. Identify the talents that our children have and try to build on them. A child’s mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be rekindled. By identifying your child’s talents and gifts at an early age, you help them in shining in activities that they do best. One of the tools that you can use in your journey of self-discovery with your child is SWOT analysis: Strengths and Weaknesses of each member of the family visa- a-viz the opportunities and threats presented by the environment. The advantage of using this kind of tool is that your child is able to understand how his or her strengths can help him in taking advantage of the opportunities presented by the environment. For instance, children who have an artistic skill can create their pieces of art and share with others in the online community and hence creating a network of would-be customers
2. Problem Solving Treasure Hunt
Kids are good at identifying things that are not working. Most children love to complain especially when things don’t go their way. Others are likely to throw in tantrums and even be inconsolable when not given the things that they want at the time they want them. While teaching kids the art of delayed gratification; how about doing it creatively by asking them to give you suggestions of how that problem can be solved. Some of their solutions may seem so farfetched and out of this world, however, those kinds of dreamers become the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. In 2019, a 12-year-old Nigerian coder built a laundry-folding robot. This pre-teen, Fathia Abdullahi, identified a problem that we can all relate to; folding of clothes that never seem to finish from the laundry bag. She developed a robot called the T-Shirt folder, which she made because there were too many clothes to fold over the weekend. Most of the problems we have at home, those that surround doing house chores, gardening, taking care of pets could encourage our children to become innovative entrepreneurs as they find new, easier, faster ways of doing them. So, next time you have that huge chore that you don’t understand how you can have it done, get the youngsters to help in it, they could come up with an innovative idea to solve similar problems in the future.
3. Learn a new skill
As a family, this season gives us an opportunity not only to bond; but to learn new skills even as we bond as a family. Depending on the different strengths of your children you can decide on what skills to add on to your skills basket. For instance, for children who love languages: they seem to understand all kinds of lingual even before they are the age of three years; you can begin introducing to them different languages that make them more versatile in the future. Other skills that we can learn during this season include baking, knitting, gardening, sewing, photography, writing, coding, the list is endless. By learning these crucial skills, you are giving your little budding entrepreneur the tools to identify the solutions to provide within their venture. The young entrepreneur can then use the skills to start off a bakery venture; they can be blog writers, be a photographer etc.
4. Engage in simple Math
When we talk of entrepreneurial math, we don’t mean the complex algebra that you probably failed in high school. The entrepreneurial math skills that your budding entrepreneur needs are just simple numeracy skills that require him or her to compute simple arithmetic such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The young entrepreneur will need to learn how to draw a simple budget that includes income and expenses. Just the basic understanding that income is what comes in and expenses are what goes out; it is enough for the young entrepreneur to conceptualize the art of developing the financial bookkeeping tools that he/she will require in his or her venture. Once your budding entrepreneur has come up with this brilliant business idea, inquire from them on the sources of financing the venture; of which part of the money could be you providing to them some short term loan or requiring them to work on a paid project that can earn them money. For instance, you could ask him or her to do something much more than a house chore like cleaning the car or cleaning the dogs kennel or feeding the pets or chicken from which they can earn some little start-up capital to start the business. The trick is to ensure that they understand that they are earning money from solving problems. Simulate all the other scenarios that entrepreneurs face as they manage their ventures. E.g. you can teach them on taxation by requiring they pay a portion of what they earn to you (“the government”) since you are providing the enabling environment for the business to thrive. You can also teach them the concept of giving at least 10% of their income to a charity of their choice, or to the church so as to inculcate the spirit of gratitude. Also, within the same income, you can teach the concept of savings by encouraging them to also save at least 10% of their income and also recoup some of the money back into the business. To ensure that your young entrepreneur feels motivated in the entire entrepreneurial process, you can encourage them to save for a product or a service that they always aspire to have. E.g. to buy a designer attire, buy a video game, the latest toy or anything that they love so that they get the incentive to work and save up for it. In all this, it is important to teach the concept of recouping back some of the money back to business to keep it running while paying him/herself a monthly salary for the hard work put in the business.
5. Use the internet constructively
While we all know the dangers of exposing young children to the internet at an early age, it is equally important that we teach them responsible use of the internet. With the COVID-19 changing the world order on how we do business; how we interact with each other; and social distancing becoming more of the norm rather than the exception; we can be almost sure that the outcome of this pandemic is that most businesses will have to be done virtually. Thanks to technology, you no longer need brick and mortar for you to start a business. For a long time, land and buildings were considered factors of production; however, with technology and virtual spaces that is no longer the case. The trend towards virtual interaction is not likely to decrease in the future. Furthermore, part of the 21st-century skills is digital literacy, collaboration, and leadership, critical thinking and problem solving, communication, creativity and innovation, and global and environmental awareness. Hence it is crucial that our young entrepreneurs are introduced to the use of the internet at an early age. It is also important that they learn the do’s and the dont’s in the virtual world so that even as they engage in digital entrepreneurship, they are informed of the boundaries even as they partake of the benefits of digital technologies. You can introduce your young entrepreneur to you-tube, developing Video Blogs of their crafts and arts; you can encourage them to develop content for their new product or service and host it on a website, etc. All these are important to introduce and align your learner with the 21st-century competencies that are required for him or her to be a budding entrepreneur in the future.
Dr. Linda Kimencu, is the founder of Learning Gaps Education Consulting. You can reach her on email: firstname.lastname@example.org