By Erin Shipley
Some of the most impactful and disruptive companies of the 21st century sprung from the minds of young, first-time entrepreneurs. Creativity, hard work and the Internet have helped turn young people with radical ideas — from Mark Zuckerberg with Facebook to Brian Chesky with Airbnb — into some of the most influential figures in the world.
While this demonstrates to young people that the act of creation isn’t separate from them, it has also changed the way more established companies approach business. They now see how fostering a corporate culture of independent and dynamic employees is a way of harnessing the entrepreneurial drive and creativity necessary to promote business growth.
These are great shifts in mindset on the individual side as well as the corporate, but much more remains to be done. This mindset needs to be cultivated and promoted in schools. Fostering from a young age the skills that help the most successful entrepreneurs triumph creates a virtuous cycle of gritty, creative and motivated young people who can help today’s companies grow and create the companies of tomorrow.
As part of the competition I judged, young students created business plans and presentations that addressed ideas as complex as order fulfillment, market sizing, and app development. Students were so inspired when developing ideas that they taught themselves techniques like coding, simply to take a purely theoretical project and make it a reality.
This speaks directly to the need for youth entrepreneurship. You want employees motivated by independence, creative thinking, and ownership of their work, so you need candidates who have been taught the importance of these attributes. An economy driven by the creation of new, dynamic companies needs early infrastructure to promote this possibility. One way to instill this is through entrepreneurship programs for young people.
To assist and involve your company with one of these programs, I suggest the following:
But you needn’t be a business to get involved with outreach. Many professionals volunteer their time outside the workplace, such as a 30-minute phone call to talk through a business plan with aspiring entrepreneurs. That advice can be hugely valuable to young entrepreneurs’ futures.
Technology companies could host an event with an organization that holds hackathons for young entrepreneurs. Manufacturers could volunteer to sit on a panel to talk about manufacturing advancements or hold tours of their plants for young entrepreneur programs. Check out the NFTE, #YesWeCode or the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation for opportunities near you.
That could mean establishing a mini-internship program in which students intern for a day in one of your company’s departments to see how coding can build real products. Or you could institute a mentorship program in which employees work with students in a local science, technology, engineering, and mathematics class. The possibilities are endless.
But jobs aren’t beneficial just for youth entrepreneurship. A survey by Ernst & Young found that 86 percent of entrepreneurs found improvements in their businesses from hiring young people. Of those entrepreneurs, 47 percent saw these improvements through innovative ideas that came from young hires, while 40 percent experienced improvements as a result of younger hires introducing smarter ways of working.
Young people today will be the business creators and rock-star employees of tomorrow, so it’s important to encourage youth entrepreneurship. By promoting skill-based education and programs that directly promote entrepreneurship, businesses can help empower the next generation of dynamic business leaders.
Image credit: Pixabay