Why I Think It Matters That We Teach Kids About Business

I’ve been working in sales, marketing and client services for a very long time; pretty much for the last 30+ years of my life – and yes, I’m over 30. I started when I was 8 years old working in my family’s retail shop. We were a true mom and pop garment store that my grandparents and mom started the year I was born. I was stocking shelves, helping customers and running the till by the time I was 8. I’d spend my time after school and on weekends at the shop helping out when I wasn’t playing sports or with my friends.

My grandparents, who emigrated here from Central America, taught me about the value of a strong work ethic at a young age. Determination, desire and a positive attitude were very important and went well alongside hard work. I took my first paying job at 14 and haven’t looked back since. You could say I was raised to be enterprising and an entrepreneur.

When I went to college in the early ’90′s most students didn’t know what entrepreneurship meant. As a matter of fact, my degree is in Small Business Management/Entrepreneurship. When someone would ask, “What’s your Major?” most of us replied “Small Business Management” because the “E” word wasn’t really used and the status quo was to get a job and work for someone else, not start your own business. Needless to say, those of us in our major became close over the years because we were passionate about the same things: being creative and willing to take risks. I might remind you, during that time, starting your own business was for people with money or who inherited it. (The DotCom era was not in sight yet. There was no Yahoo or Google or Facebook; which were both founded way after I graduated college). Since then my University created an official Center for Entrepreneurship.

Fast forward to today, 2011.  After a successful real estate career I moved on to the technology industry where, between the two, 20 years of my life went by while I worked in and on various aspects of running small businesses from sales, marketing and customer service to operations. I’ve been employed and self-employed at different times and I’ve always kept my entrepreneurial spirit alive with various side projects. I’ve made a lot of money and I’ve been on the downside as well. Sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t. Your attitude plays a huge part in recovery when things fail. And you have to be willing to try and take a chance – some of my best success came when I took a leap of faith.

While I may not be Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump or Bill Gates with monetary wealth beyond description, I am indeed wealthy beyond measure and so are most entrepreneurs I know. The lessons of entrepreneurship include resilience, creativity and innovation, critical thinking and the ability to think outside of the box while having compassion for others.

I want this same wealth for our current generation of youth, especially if there’s the hint of interest on the child’s part that can be nurtured. Who knows, by fostering this spirit you may just have the next Oprah Winfrey or Bill Gates in your house. At the very least, you will have the opportunity to teach resilience, creativity and life skills needed, no matter what their future occupation. By teaching your kids about business, you give them the ability to learn fiscal responsibility, what it means to have a work ethic, and the ability to enjoy the rewards that come with earning money and working towards a goal.

Here’s to the next generation of entrepreneurs!


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