The development of enterprising skills in young people is important preparation for work and life and is valuable in both school and community settings. ‘With persistence and determination, the entrepreneur develops strategies to change their vision into reality.’ Growing up in a business family I was surrounded by talk about business and I was often pulled in to work part time in my father’s business. This perhaps was the platform that allowed me to create an educational enterprise from my passion for teaching and my skills in understanding teaching technologies. There is a story of a famous entrepreneur who wrote about the time he was 10 years old and decided to set up a makeshift stall outside his house to sell lemonade. He waited for his first customer.
No one walked by for hours until his father came along, acted the perfect customer, and enjoyed his glass of cool refreshing lemonade. The child tasted success when he made his first sale and an entrepreneur was born. Interestingly, this story is included in many business study discussions and literature as the Lemonade Stand Business Model. Any entrepreneurial venture is a risk, and as with any risk, there needs to be room for change. By providing students the hands-on experience of running a business, they will be able to make decisions, analyse problems, come up with solutions, and also make mistakes.
Our education system is already set up to provide children with the ‘hard’ skills they need to go through life; these are the technical requirements of the job. However, we also need to provide children with ‘soft’ skills such as self-esteem, confidence building, integrity, and optimism to complement the hard skills.
These soft skills are increasingly being sought over degrees by employers and educational institutions such as Harvard Business School (HBS). The managing director of admissions at HBS emphasizes that ‘empathy, perspective taking, rapport, and cooperation’ are among the competencies the school looks for in applicants. They are placing greater importance on the value of emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills, with the reasoning that to be a successful leader you need to have the ability to think beyond the textbook, beyond the classroom, beyond an academic record.
In the year 2000, UNICEF identified certain life skills that children will need to learn to cope with the rapid changes occurring around them in a fiercely competitive world. These skills include: decision making, problem solving, creative thinking, communication, empathy, critical thinking, coping with stress and emotions, interpersonal relationship skills, and self awareness.
‘“Enterprise Education” is learning directed towards developing in young people those skills, competencies, understandings, and attributes which equip them to be innovative, and to identify, create, initiate, and successfully manage personal, community, business, and work opportunities, including working for themselves.’
Tomorrow belongs to the entrepreneur
We need to create and implement new vision in our children for them to be able to shape the future. Through simulation of mini-business environments in schools, students can have the opportunity to experience ‘enterprise competencies’ such as self motivation, initiative, and risk taking. An example is a recent programme started by our schools called ‘Show & Business’, which runs as a part of ‘Enterprize Education’. It is designed to equip children with entrepreneurial skills by setting up a fully functioning production house. The focus is on helping students ‘sell’ their enterprise. The end goal of ‘Show & Business’ is a professional show created entirely by the children themselves. We hope more schools start to develop entrepreneurial skills in their students. Not only is it necessary and beneficial, but also rewarding and fun for the students. As parents we can also encourage this at home. If your child is interested in jewellery, encourage him to create a small jewellery business. If your child enjoys baking, help him set up a small bakery business. Begin with a simple balance sheet view. How much funding will be required? How will we let people know of the enterprise? One of our schools possibly has the youngest president and CEO of a company in India! A young boy of 10 and his brother, aged 12, recently created mobile phone applications that have had over 10,000 downloads across the world already. We place a high value on teaching entrepreneurship to our students and these two students are already co-founders and President (Shravan)/CEO (Sanjay) of GoDimensions, a mobile applications firm. The duo has already designed four applications for the Apple store that have been downloaded in over 20 countries!