With education costs skyrocketing, many parents are considering the value of “higher” education for their teenager. At 18, no one knows enough to make a commitment to one career path; college may not be the best source of the skills necessary to succeed in the next half-century; and alternative educational resources are getting better AND more common. Moreover, it’s no longer necessary to wait until a child is 18 to take advantage of college-level content. Advanced learners (or those merely interested in one specific area) can study high-level content at any age from home…often for free. MIT and other colleges even publish their lectures online for free.
But like every business, universities require paid enrollment to stay viable. What MIT and others now sell is the college experience: networking, interactive learning, and the ability to have your questions answered by a knowledgeable expert in real time. Online courses can’t provide the full college experience, they argue. The many benefits of live enrollment–like club memberships, faculty office hours, tutoring and keggers–must be experienced in person, they say. In short, you really have to be there to get it.
Many experts disagree. While we don’t take an official position at CrossFit Brain (we believe that every opportunity for learning is positive, on balance) we believe that experience is at least as valuable as academic education. What’s the price of experience? In this example, it’s a thousand dollars.
Your child can’t get a job until they’re 15 or 16. But they can start a business anytime. Give them $1000 as “seed money,” and watch them learn.
What Your Child Will Learn From Entrepreneurship:
- Self-reliance : Who can they count on to show up early, and stay until the work is done? Themselves. Who can stand up to pressure? They can.
- How to ask for help: When they don’t know the answer, how can they find someone who has already solved the puzzle? What will that help cost?
- Delayed Gratification: Taking the profits from a dog-walking service and investing them in new leashes will increase future profits without increasing time. OR they can be spent on a new video game…watch this video to see how most kids react when given the choice. Spoiler: it’s not good.
- Putting others first: There’s a bit of money left over from the cupcake sale, but little brother hasn’t been paid for all his help yet. What choice does a good business owner make?
- “Good” is usually better than “perfect”: Paralysis by analysis is possibly the largest tripping stone of the new graduate. They’ve done everything in a lab setting; now how do they apply their lessons in the real world? Often, it’s better to act quickly and figure things out as you go. Waiting for ‘perfect’ usually means waiting forever.
- Learning from “failures” : that no “failure” is ever permanent; that even when they’re wrong, they can still learn very valuable lessons; that short-term losses might can save you from larger mistakes later. Early mistakes aren’t fatal, and might be some of the best investments they can make.
- How to sell themselves: everybody’s a salesman. Speaking about your ideas with confidence and clarity is one of the most important skills a child can learn…but schools teach public speaking less and less.
- How to optimize return on time: Most corporations revolve around “return on investment.” But entrepreneurs must carefully consider “return on time”: is the hour spent writing this blog post worth more than an hour spent sleeping?
- That bad times (and good times) aren’t permanent: that they shouldn’t allow themselves to get too low (or too high) because new opportunities and challenges are always right around the corner.
- How to manage finances: in perhaps the most obvious example, kids who learn from having “skin in the game” are better at financial self-regulation later.
You don’t have to start with a thousand dollars; start with a hundred, or start with a blank piece of paper. Kids will learn a little, or a lot: either way, mission accomplished and a summer vacation well spent.
What else can kids learn from owning their own business?