What Should We Teach Kids About Startups?

“We're all growing up in a brave new world of entrepreneurship, yet our kids are still being prepared for the workforce of 1950. What can we do to teach our kids the fundamentals of becoming a startup Founder at an early age?”

February 12th, 2020   |    By: Wil Schroter

Imagine what would happen if we spent as much time trying to teach kids to become entrepreneurs as we did trying to get them to prepare for the SATs?

Let's remember that a disproportionate amount of our academic focus is around a series of standardized tests designed in an era where homogenizing the workforce was our number one goal (side note: it worked).

Now our goal is the polar opposite: differentiating our workforce. The only way our kids will succeed is if they can stand apart from others and chart their own course.

That's the essence of entrepreneurship, and it's something we can absolutely teach.

Why should we start with kids as entrepreneurs?

Kids are natural entrepreneurs.

They possess the most powerful skill any of us can have which is a natural tendency to question everything (a fact that is often less endearing as a parent!)

Their natural inquisition is exactly what we want to cultivate as early as possible into a skill that translates "Why can't this work?" into "Let me go make it work."

Kids haven't learned that they can't do things yet, which is fundamentally what separates entrepreneurs from everyone else.

The most valuable lesson we can teach kids is "ownership"

We need to teach kids the value of working on something that they own. As Founders, we've all gone through the process of "birthing a company," much like a child, where we feel total and complete ownership of something. It's part of us.

We're not just talking about equity ownership (although that's nice), we're talking about emotional ownership — a fundamental attachment of pride toward something we have created.

We need to give kids a taste of that ownership early and often. We need to teach them that the world can be something of their own creation, not just a prescribed job at a company that was someone else's passion 50 years ago.

Are we saying every kid should become a startup Founder?

Definitely not.

Our job should be to open the Pandora's Box of entrepreneurship for every child. The goal isn't to make every kid a startup Founder any more than the goal of teaching music or athletics is to make every kid Beethoven or Serena Williams.

Teaching kids about startups is about showing them a path to personal creation, emotional ownership, and, let's just get crazy here and say...a job that they might just actually be insanely passionate about.

The world already has plenty of bored employees. The world needs more passionate Founders.

In Case You Missed It

How to Mix a Family and a Startup. Given that our time is so scarce, what can we do to be best prepared to be a good spouse and parent while also being the best Founder we can be?

How to Set Your Entrepreneurial Kids Up For Success. If our kid is interested in launching their own business, there are three ways we can provide the support they need.

Build Your Startup Around Your Passion. Instead of starting with, "what will make the most money?" and hoping we like it, how do we start with what we're most passionate about and figure out how to do that profitably?

About the Author

Wil Schroter

Wil Schroter is the Founder + CEO @ Startups.com, a startup platform that includes BizplanClarity, Fundable, Launchrock, and Zirtual. He started his first company at age 19 which grew to over $700 million in billings within 5 years (despite his involvement). After that he launched 8 more companies, the last 3 venture backed, to refine his learning of what not to do. He's a seasoned expert at starting companies and a total amateur at everything else.

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