Perhaps it is a sign of the times, or perhaps it shows our age, but nowadays conversations with friends increasingly dwell on economic uncertainty, job security, corporate downsizing and redundancies. The lack of job security has become a common refrain among those in the corporate world. And it is indeed sobering to realise that it gets even more challenging as we get older.
Our children are facing a new reality, where getting a good degree and joining an MNC no longer guarantee a secure financial future. The younger generation is increasingly aware of this change, and many young people have chosen to chart their own destiny by starting their own businesses. This is a very encouraging trend as there are huge benefits of early entrepreneurship. I have listed some of my thoughts below:
Low cost of failure
The young can afford to fail because they don’t yet need a financial status and have limited obligations. There is wide social acceptance for early failure as these are deemed to be still part of learning. In addition, they are still likely to be staying at home and have a family to provide and help defray expenses.
Long horizon to apply early lessons
Start early, Scale fast; Fail fast and Learn Early. The earlier stumbles will help them learn the pitfalls early and prepare them for the much bigger challenges ahead.
Benefits of early failure
As JK Rowling shared in her Commencement speech on the “Benefits of Failure” to the Harvard graduating class of 2008, failure teaches us things about ourselves that we could not learn in any other way. It builds strength of character that has been tested in the face of adversity. And even if we fail, this practical learning tempered in the crucible of a business start-up will be invaluable lessons for future endeavours, whether in another start-up or in the corporate world.
This is self-explanatory, and admittedly a double-edged sword. But besides being brash and inexperienced, the young are full of confidence, curious and ready to experiment. They have the creativity and energy to go wild with bold ideas, and to take on big challenges. They just need to learn from experience.
Leveraging the early network
They can leverage the network of college friends or juniors because they are still in touch with most of them, and often can avail themselves of assistance fairly cheaply.
As parents, we must support our children, at any age, to plan and execute their ideas into reality. With every venture, failed or otherwise, they learn valuable life skills of resilience, humility, responsibility, perseverance etc. And success breeds success as self-belief grows; and failure teaches valuable lessons.
Perhaps, for the young kids, we start by organising a garage sale to sell unused or old toys and books. Set them an achievable financial goal and give them an incentive (they get to keep all the proceeds!), and then give them the responsibility to plan, price and negotiate sales. I believe that we will be surprised at how they learn the ropes and reap the benefits of early entrepreneurship.