Whether or not it's intentional, entrepreneurs can't do anything without having an impact on other people. We hear about their successes and failures in the news, read about their invaluable life lessons and tweet at them for business advice. A huge portion of an entrepreneur's impact takes the form of impacting communities, hiring people in need of help, and similarly philanthropic results. But entrepreneurs are shaping the future in more than one way -- they're imparting lessons to children.
Classrooms teach children about history and math but there's more to life than algebra and reciting the dates of all the World Wars. I will honestly admit that I don't ever recall using anything I learned in my history classes in my day-to-day life but I do wish someone taught me about the ins-and-outs of life as an adult.
These are lessons that every child needs to learn, and entrepreneurs are more than qualified to teach them. These teachings are powerful and make a genuine impact, and they're lessons that I strive to pass on to my two sons as they continue to explore the world they live in. Here are the valuable lessons I think entrepreneurs are teaching that you won't find your textbook.
Your Success is Tied to Your Motivation
It's always a battle trying to get my kids to clean up their rooms -- they just don't have the motivation to do it and it's usually me who does the cleaning in the end. And I myself feel that same lack of motivation when it comes to tackling those projects I've been dreading for weeks. But as entrepreneurs it's our job to get tasks done, regardless of how grim or difficult the situation may seem.
In entrepreneurship, your success is closely tied to how motivated you are: if you don't work, some days you literally don't eat. An entrepreneur stays motivated because their business is determined by their actions and kids can see the value of pouring your heart and soul into a business you believe in. Through my own business ventures, I try to set an example to my own kids that working hard and staying motivated even when times are tough can lead to success. It's easy to give up in the face of discouraging experiences, but those who persevere can greatly improve their situation.
Being Nice To Others Will Open Doors
Another great lesson that entrepreneurs can teach kids is that being nice to others will open doors and create opportunities. Great business ventures start by being polite and engaging with other people. You never know where opportunities can arise, and the easiest way to open a new door is to adopt a nice mindset when interacting with others. When kids are taught this early on, they learn that rudeness and a poor attitude will only hold them back.
Think of entrepreneurs who regularly fail -- their heads are in the clouds and they don't respect others. Conversely, great and successful entrepreneurs see the value in everyone and do what they can do to learn from them. It encourages them to be pleasant to those around them, but it also teaches them how to see great opportunities. Kids who see entrepreneurs using kindness instead of arrogance to achieve their goals will learn to also be kind to achieve what they want. It's a win-win, and it'll help raise a generation of future entrepreneurs.
It's OK To Fall, As Long As You Stand Up Again
Kids fall down quite a bit -- I should know, my two boys were always finding ways to injure themselves while playing. They stumble, they trip, and they occasionally fail. Much like many adults, my kids get upset when they do and I'm sure other parents will say the same thing. After all, it's disheartening to fall. But children need to understand that this is completely OK, and entrepreneurs are incredibly qualified to teach this lesson. By nature, entrepreneurs fall down and I myself have fallen quite a lot. However, there's no shame in falling. In fact, falling offers a unique lesson on how to stay determined and fight for success.
Entrepreneurs can teach children that falling is OK, but that accepting it and staying down is true failure. Everything won't always go smoothly or according to plan, and that's alright. It also teaches kids that perfection is not a realistic goal. The key to success isn't being perfect; it's learning from your mistakes and applying those lessons to your life as you move on to bigger and better things.
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A unique idea might not necessarily be one that no one else has thought of. It could be that someone looked into it and found it was simply not financially viable. Do extensive market research to assess exactly what your competitors are offering, and more importantly, why they don’t offer the things you’d like to. Study published data for quantitative research and get feedback from your potential customer base for a more qualitative analysis. Find out why they would buy into your idea, how much they are willing and able to spend and how often to make your start-up worthwhile.
Just because you’re going it alone does not mean you can operate a business without structure. A business plan is crucial to help you clarify your idea, spot problems, set out goals and measure your progress. It’s highly unlikely that a bank or an investor will consider offering you a start-up loan without one. To find out how to put together the perfect plan, log on here.
Register yourself as a sole trader and start branding your product. The name of your business will be crucial – you’ll need to get a logo designed, print out letterheads, business cards and register the domain name, which means changing your mind afterwards will be a waste of money and time. As well as making sure the name reflects your business and sounds appealing to potential customers, check the name isn’t already taken (or too similar sounding to a competitor). Also check that nothing unsavoury pops up on search engines when you type it in! If your idea is genuinely new, get it patented for free.
Starting a business on your own doesn’t mean you can do it without others. You’ll need to source and build a good relationship with reliable and affordable suppliers, as well as distributors. A start-up also relies heavily on validation, so get to know people whose endorsement will make new customers take you seriously too. And don’t forget, you can be a sole trader and still have partners to help share the load.
Make yourself accessible and approachable from the get go by building a website that’s both professional and personable. Make it is easy-to-navigate, easy-to-understand and easy on the eye. Choose a host that provides quality support, ensure your site loads quickly, and that it works effectively on mobile devices. Find out as much as you can about SEO. Start building up followers and likes on social networking sites as soon as possible, have engaging interactions with them regularly, so by the time you’re ready to launch your product, you already have a loyal base to help you spread the word.
The excitement of starting up your dream business means it’s easy to overspend, but once the novelty wears off, many end up losing both money and heart. Before you start ploughing your loans or your savings into the project, be absolutely sure this isn’t a vanity project, that you’ve assessed the market and your spending well enough to know how you’ll keep your head above water until you’re guaranteed a profit. Don’t skimp on hiring advisors, a good lawyer and accountant will help you get your head around tax and stop you drowning in invoices, receipts and small print.
A solo venture comes with its assurances of stress, so be absolutely sure you have what it takes before you start-up. Do you have the negotiation skills to get the best deals, the communication skills to win people over, a head for figures to ensure you’re on top of your finances? A lot of novice entrepreneurs give up once they start to question their product. How will you handle a customer demanding their money back, or reading a bad review online? A thick skin, the ability to come up with solutions to unforeseen problems and a solid support network are all crucial for those going at it alone.