I am surrounded by a group of young aspiring entrepreneurs, eight to ten year olds, who want to learn about business. Their parents are sitting in the back.
As always, I first play a little game with the kids: “Tell me, what qualities do you think are necessary today to be successful in a career? “ Kids almost step on each other to give me answers: “Be smart!” “Have fun!” “Think on the spot!” “Have your own business!”
Then, I play the game with the parents in the back of the room asking them the same question. A long, thoughtful silence is followed by: “Be a team player!” “Have strong technology skills!” “Have strong communication skills!” “Listen to you boss!”
I ask the little girl in the front row how does one learn to think on the spot. “Well, practice more!” she replies unfettered. And what is her business idea? She tells me about a recipe for a new drink, which she would sell in the summer, together with cookies for which, she again, has a unique recipe. All the other kids nod approvingly, and jump in with suggestions. We do a quick brainstorm to find the right name for the drink. “Red Surprise” gets the highest number of votes. Then we play with the three steps I gave them for starting a business:
- Create value (product/service)
- Engage your audience (marketing, delivery channels)
- Have a fair exchange (sales, pricing)
When I ask the kids what do they understand by ‘exchange” they quickly reply: “To make money? Ya, we like making money!” The little girl looks at me with big eyes and says: “I did not realize there are so many steps to selling my special drink.”
There are a few steps, yes, but when one practices how to start new little ventures often, these steps become fun and useful explorations. And when one learns early in life what goes into finding and creating new business opportunities, thinking on the spot gets really easy.