Today whilst driving on the school run a stuffy old politician was on the radio jabbering on about ‘the youth of today’. In actual fact he was discussing a recent study that had shown that the next generation would find it harder than ever to achieve high paid employment and how this was going to impact on their lives. My first instinct was how awful that my children may never achieve a salary of £50k but it was fleeting and replaced with a feeling of complete annoyance. Here was this burke on probably £100k a year telling me how my children will struggle to gain high paid employment and how it was all the teachers faults for not teaching them algebra in reception. Now the first thing that riled me was his constant blaming of our amazing teaching profession. I don’t know about every other school in the country but I know in my children’s school the teachers are incredible and go above and beyond to help my boys learn everything from writing and numeracy to who was the prime minister during the great fire of London. How dare he! Then there was this notion that in order to be successful my children must earn above a certain salary threshold, what utter crap! Of course I would love my children to have a fabulous house and be able to afford the odd holiday abroad but what I would like more than anything is for them to be happy and content. Happiness cannot be bought and it is well known that along with huge salaries often comes huge amounts of stress (so far this interview is getting right on my nerves)
But the part of this interview that bugged me the most was the complete lack of discussion around self-employment and entrepreneurialism . He went on and on (and on) about ‘top jobs’ and ‘internships’ but he never once mentioned the entrepreneurial spark that has been ignited in our generation. More and more companies are being started by under 18’s and they have the highest success rate within the first two years. Teenagers today are building social media empires, designing computer games and inventing inspiring, life changing machines. Last year alone 12 British teenagers made their first million from their bedrooms before they turned 20. Where are they included in your statistics Mr Stuffy politician? We should be doing more to encourage this growing trend of successful creative youngsters instead of trying to force them all to get ‘proper job’s lets inspire them, we need to give them the tools to build their own empire and futures.
I didn’t start my business till I was 27 years old after spending nine years working in finance, doing a job that never really made me happy. I went to university because it was expected of me and I chose sensible subjects at A-levels because my parents said I had to have a ‘solid back up plan’. I often wonder how much my business could have achieved by now if I hadn’t wasted nine years in my ‘proper job’. We need to let our children dream big and encourage them to follow those dreams. That toddler that is obsessed with watching the toilet flush could design the next innovative and eco-friendly plumbing system, your cooking obsessed seven year old could be the founder of the next healthy eating café concept or your shoe crazy two year old could be an iconic trainer designer but we have to encourage that spirit and give them the tools to explore the endless possibilities around them. The world is changing and the pathway to success isn’t limited to working your way up the career ladder, with the right tools and support our children can build their own bloody ladders!
There are so many ways that we can encourage entrepreneurship in our children from little things like helping them hold car boot sales to cash in on old toys to sending their short stories to local publishers. Finns school recently had all the children in his class paint a replica of Monet’s Waterlilies and sell them after school for 50p, it was a huge success. A Birmingham based company called Clever Tykes have released a series of books designed to inspire youngsters to start their own businesses and they are a huge hit. Finn loved them especially Walk it Willow, a book about a young girl who starts a dog walking business and turns a tidy profit. This is what we should be talking about on the radio, not how many young people won’t achieve high paid employment but how many children have built successful businesses from scratch. Let’s raise a generation of determined and passionate entrepreneurs that will be creating jobs for others not fighting their peers for a handful of positions. Let’s show our children that they are completely in charge of their futures and what greatness they can achieve.
****Although Clever Tykes have not endorsed this post in anyway I highly recommend you popping over to their website and buying a book for your tiny entrepreneur****