Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Kinds of Entrepreneurs


As we get closer to summer, young people are looking for summer jobs - or their parents are urging them to look for summer jobs! Given the current economy, it is not surprising that newspapers and magazines are running articles on teenagers who started their own business.

Do you ever notice the list of tips or advice for the group described in the article are pretty much the same as one would give any startup. For example, in the USA Today article on teen entrepreneurs, they provide the following list of advice: "don't let shortcomings thwart you" "price wisely" "don't over invest in supplies". These could be given to any startup. There is nothing distinctly teenager about those items. Just as like articles for women entrepreneurs give advice that could cover men entrepreneurs as well. This is not surprising if you consider that business remains the same regardless of who runs it.

What grabbed my eye in the article is a couple of the comments from the teen entrepreneurs. The young man notes he is learning more than he would at a typical summer job, "this is just the foundation for learning how to be a businessman," he says. "I couldn't learn this just working at a restaurant."

The young woman had to convince her parents to let her start her business. When Archer first brought up the idea of selling hair pomade, her parents didn't take her seriously. "It took a lot of convincing" to get the business going, she says."My mom was like, 'Maybe you can start the business when you are 20 or when you get out of college.' "

The consequence I draw from these two comments is that it is not the youth or teenager who needs to be convinced of the importance of getting out there and starting his or her own business - but the parents or adults in his or her life.

The young woman's mother would rather her work at a fast food restaurant all summer long to make - say $2000. Her daughter learns to make fries. Instead, her daughter wants to open a business. Let's say she does open the business and it fails (in her case, it is succeeding). Then the parents would have to cover her lost income. But the daughter would have learned a lot more than making fries. But the mother would rather her daughter wait to start a business when she is out of college?

And the young man realizes that he is better off not doing the restaurant job (and so does the daughter). But why not the parents? The risk is low, the learning high, and at the worst, the daughter learns something about herself. Strange.

I am reminded of a Buckminster Fuller quote, "we are all born geniuses". I take this as meaning as we get older, we get less pliable, less open to taking advantage of our genius. Why not try to be open to the possibility? [And of course - take the useful advice on how to start a business!]

No comments: