Why Every Kid Should be a Startup Founder

"What if every kid learned how to be a startup Founder at the same rate they learned reading, math, and science? What if instead of preparing kids for the same jobs we've been doing for hundreds of years we taught them how to create their own jobs?"

October 5th, 2022   |    By: Wil Schroter

Every kid should become a startup Founder, even if they never want to start a business.

Years ago, I started teaching entrepreneurship at my kid's Middle and High schools. What I thought might be an exercise in futility wound up being an incredibly eye-opening experience. As it turns out, kids are freakishly good at being Startup Founders!

When I was a kid, no one told me I could forge my own path. We sort of were handed a dozen careers, and you got to pick one. It was basically our guidance counselor telling us "Oh, you're good at math? You'll be an accountant." Never mind that we never really wanted to be accountants.

Kids Have Unlimited Curiosity

Instead of shoe-horning kids into some prescribed path, entrepreneurship leverages their greatest strength — curiosity. When I start each semester, I tell the kids the same thing "All you need to start a company is to ask questions and find problems." They never quite understand what that means at first, but when I explain that all startup ideas come from problems they already have, they immediately get it and ideas start flowing.

Conversely, when I say the same thing to adults — it doesn't quite work. We're programmed to immediately shoot down ideas that might not work. Our curiosity has been tamed by reality and by way of that, we're simply hampered.

One of my students last week asked "I love my shoes — what if they just kept growing with my shoe size so I never had to get rid of them?" Great question. He's not thinking about how it could work, he's thinking about why it should happen. That's how great ideas are born.

Learn to Plot your Own Path

The most valuable part of teaching kids to be startup Founders is planting the seed at the earliest age possible so that their lives can follow their own path — not someone else's. Love art? Open an art gallery. Build a newsletter that reviews art. Create an e-commerce marketplace for artists. There are countless ways to follow that path that doesn't even require going to art school.

I try to instill the concept that what matters is that you align your work with what you love. We tend to be 100x happier when we have a genuine passion for our work. I only know this because I speak to thousands of Founders who get to do just that and it's incredibly obvious.

Why not give students the tools to plot their own path? How they choose to use those tools (or ignore them) is totally up to them, but it feels like a huge miss to avoid arming them with such a valuable skill set. As it happens, learning to be a startup Founder gives them the most comprehensive skill set you could ever need, from problem-solving to leadership to learning to operate without any rules.

"Imagine all the People..."

I'm channeling a little bit of John Lennon here, but imagine a world where everyone you know does what they are truly passionate about. And yes, I totally get that there probably aren't a lot of people who are passionate about awful jobs. My worldview isn't as rose-colored as Lennon's.

But what if that were the new American Dream? To go your own way. To think about how to reshape the world quite literally? To no longer blindly march into a role predestined by someone before you? Oh, and do I mention you start as the CEO?

I believe that world can and will exist. I think it starts with simply planting the seed of entrepreneurship. It grows by arming kids with the tools to build whatever they want, despite what the world would otherwise offer. It blossoms with generation after generation of startup Founders teaching the generation after them. If you or someone you know wants to learn more about how we're doing this, drop me a line, and let's chat.

In Case You Missed It

What Should We Teach Kids About Startups? As parents and potential parents, what should we be teaching kids about Startup companies? Teaching kids about startups is about showing them a path to personal creation, emotional ownership, and possibly a job that they might just actually be insanely passionate about.

I’m Killing Myself. How Is Everyone Else Finding Work/Life Balance? Work/Life balance isn't about working less, it's about adjusting our approach to work.

Is Doing Non-Startup Stuff Good For My Startup? (podcast) Join Wil and Ryan as they discuss how doing stuff that's NOT Startup related is important not only for your own sanity, but for the growth of your company.


About the Author

Wil Schroter

Wil Schroter is the Founder + CEO @ Startups.com, a startup platform that includes BizplanClarity, Fundable, Launchrock, and Zirtual. He started his first company at age 19 which grew to over $700 million in billings within 5 years (despite his involvement). After that he launched 8 more companies, the last 3 venture backed, to refine his learning of what not to do. He's a seasoned expert at starting companies and a total amateur at everything else.

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