For many years I have been volunteering at a program called Summer Company. This program, sponsored by the Province of Ontario and managed by the City of Niagara Falls, allows students the opportunity to run their own business for a summer. One stipulation is that the “entrepreneur” must be returning to school in September, either high school, college or university.
Last week I sat in our mentor meeting with the eight students from this years Summer Company. I was struck by a few things:
- The growth in these young people over the month I have known them. A little extra confidence, an ability to talk about recent success and failure and the excitement while talking about opportunities recognized.
- The way they would talk to each other; contributing ideas about issues their colleagues had brought up. I have long understood the value of peer to peer discussions. Here, in a few short weeks I watched it develop and recognized its real value.
- The fundamental grasp of the value of creative thinking and problem solving.
I watch these young people grow more excited about their business. Many of them will continue their business long after this summer and this program has ended. Some will become lifelong entrepreneurs with the heartbreak, the joy, the adrenalin, successes and failures and ultimately the personal satisfaction that comes with owning a business.
Studies have shown that successful business owners are not in the business for the money. Money can be number 4 or 5 on the list of reasons people start businesses. The number one reason is to build something. Other reasons are to fill a perceived need in the community or to have personal independence (a key reason for me starting down the entrepreneurial path).
I look at these summer company participants and think of the world they will live in through their careers; a world of constant change, increasing complexity, the globalization of their business place through e-commerce and computer algorithms that will replace many of the professional jobs once assumed to be safe. I think, in the future, most jobs will be self-employed work and individuals will work on projects in networks of collaborators possibly from around the world. Success will come to those who can think creatively and communicate effectively.
I have coached business people around North America using today’s technology. What I find most often is that people need a nudge to get started and often help identifying what they want to accomplish (the vision) and why they are in business (the mission). Business people who get these questions answered find planning easier and with the planning accomplished setting short range and intermediate goals becomes a logical part of the conversation. Now the business owner can “see” their path and they get excited.
Future entrepreneurs will operate in a complex world. They will need to polish their creative genius and use a plan to set goals. Coaches will be valuable to keep these business owners on track, accountable and there to help filter the opportunities that will arise in an ever changing world.
Good luck to the summer company students, you’ve made a great start.