By: Anne Dewvall.
There has never been a time in history where there were more
demands for young peoples’ time: social media use topping 17 or 18 hours a day
is just the beginning of the train of distractions that vies for students’
attention. Schools face a dichotomy between resource shortages and increased
pressure to help kids be good at everything, from reading to math to financial
literacy to the arts. So, it would be easy to dismiss youth entrepreneurship as
one more burden on an overtaxed population. After all, you might reason that
kids can be entrepreneurs when they are adults. But, before you write off youth
entrepreneurship, read these five reasons why you should embrace youth
entrepreneurship. Are you thinking lemonade stand? Stop.
1. Entrepreneurship teaches
valuable skills. Entrepreneurship teaches kids about planning, financial
responsibility, supply and demand, the importance of relationships, and how to
moderate risks. Youth entrepreneurship has been proven to improve academic
performance, school attendance, interpersonal skills, job readiness, problem
solving skills, and decision-making abilities.
entrepreneurship is a safe place to experiment. Youth entrepreneurship
provides the perfect arena to experiment with career paths, business ideas, and
self-identities. Wouldn’t you rather a child find out they don’t want to be a
musician after experimenting with a music business for a youth entrepreneurship
program instead of after accumulating $80,000 in student loans? Youth
entrepreneurship is the mature equivalent of playing dress-up. Students can try
on a lot of different options with little risk.
is a career path. Students these days demonstrate strong interest in
entrepreneurship not just as an alternative to traditional employment if times
get tough but as a primary career objective before, during, and after college.
While research findings on youth attitudes toward entrepreneurship differ,
entrepreneurship is not disappearing as a career path and students should have
the opportunity to explore that path while still in school.
4. Their business
might succeed. Although it’s easy to dismiss youth entrepreneurship as all
play, there is a lot of work involved. Many young students turn their ideas into successful businesses. Some of
them even get bought or become huge financial successes. Isabella Weems
co-founded the wildly successful multi-million dollar jewelry business Origami
Owl when she was 14. British entrepreneur Fraser Doherty sells hundreds of
thousands of jars of jam a year through his business SuperJam and commands 10%
of the market share. Other young entrepreneurs have made their marks on the
Internet, creating new websites, photo sharing tools, apps, and more. Young
people can be successful business owners, creating jobs, adding wealth to their
community, and gaining hands-on learning that could turn them into a
high-powered serial entrepreneur in the future.
is inspiring. In America, real wages for the majority of Americans have
either stagnated or declined since 1968. Middle and upper class job
opportunities for young people are shrinking at a time when more people than
ever are graduating from college. Job security has all but vanished and the
economy is uncertain. Entrepreneurship is a way for young people to take
greater control of their lives and economic futures. In a world where nothing
is certain, giving young people real tools to build their own future is pretty
NetWork Kansas proudly supports youth entrepreneurship in
Kansas. In 2014, we hosted a pilot program in northwestern Kansas for students
in grades 7-12. Read about the Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge at www.youtheshipchallenge.com.