Why Your Kid Should Start A Business

I’ve offered my kids each $10,000 to skip college.

I’m all for education (we actually fund it for some other kids) but I want them to wait. Before they go to college, I want them to start a business.

That’s not just a grey-haired dad wanting his kids to carry his legacy. It’s my strategy to give them as much education, experience and skill as possible in the least amount of time.

Here’s why I think more parents should give their kids the gift of entrepreneurship:

1. Your kid will get to work as hard as they want to.

The industrial education model doesn’t allow your child to work at their full potential. It tells them to check in at nine and punch out at five. But no one outside of the government actually does that anymore. You might as well be teaching them to hammer out horseshoes on a forge.

2. Your kid will learn to tie income to output, not hours.

The agro-industrial education system teaches attendance: show up at 8:45, make sure your teacher counts you on the list. Go home at 3:30. Follow the predetermined schedule. Pass the tests on the date they’re planned. Get a raise when you’ve been around awhile.

This model runs counter to the on-demand world we live in. It stifles innovation and hard work. Almost every career now requires brief periods of high intensity followed by slower periods of waiting or base-building. Kids need to know what to do during slower times, and how to work all-out when opportunities arise.

3. Your kid won’t have to rely on someone else’s judgment.

How many times have you questioned the judgment of your boss?

Has that made you happier, or less happy?

What if that boss makes a huge mistake? Could they hold your kid’s livelihood in their hands?

There are no layers of management anymore…and therefore no layers of protection.

4. Your kid’s career will be less fragile.

The average college graduate will have 3-5 careers before they retire. That’s not 3-5 jobs; that’s 3-5 major pivots in their livelihood.

The knowledge gained in the average undergraduate program is obsolete within five years. That means your kid will be paying off their debt long after their education became useless.

University used to be a way for a person to “buy themselves a job.” But that’s no longer the case; kids now need to develop a broad skillset that will prepare them for any career, including entrepreneurship.

And in a real crisis–like the Covid lockdown of 2020–employees sat on their couches and waited for their government aid to arrive. Entrepreneurs pivoted. Some grew. Yes, some businesses failed–but entrepreneurs can just start over. Employees have to wait for someone else to start over first.

You can protect your kid, or you can make them strong. You won’t always be there to protect them…

5. Your kid will develop the skills they REALLY need.

What DO kids actually need to prepare them for life as an adult?

They need to understand–and not fear–money. Money is a tool. Governments, banks and credit card companies are experts with the tool. Most of us are not, and that’s why we work to pay them. But we can learn to make them work for us…if we’re not intimidated by complicated tax codes and fear of penalties.

They need to speak well in front of others. Whether they’re negotiating in person or leading a webinar for 10,000, our kids will always need to communicate well. Public speaking is frequently cut from school curriculum now, because it’s uncomfortable for some kids. But the only way to become comfortable with speaking up, speaking out and standing up for yourself is practice.

They need to learn how to sell. Maybe they’re selling themselves to an employer; or maybe they’re selling their product to a customer. Either way, the art of persuasion is one they must master. Our kids can be the masters of persuasion, or they can be its victim. Even if they never have to sell anything in their adult lives, they’ll know when they’re being sold.

They need to learn when to give up. The dogmatic approach to plowing through work for work’s sake is a mistake. Even entrepreneurs fall into the Mule Trap of thinking more work creates success. In the Idea Economy, not everything is going to work. Plans will fail; money will run out. Our kids need to learn when to let go of bad ideas as much as they need to know when to work hard on good ones.

Look, my kids probably won’t skip college, despite my bribe. But if they open a business before college, they’ll have experience. And that’s a powerful filter for everything they learn later.

Has your kid started a business? What did it teach them that they might not learn anywhere else?

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