For some time I have been trying to figure out how best to help my teenagers prepare for entering the workplace. So far, I have relied on the school system to teach them sciences, languages and many other interesting topics.
I grew up in France and went to school there. My children started school in England. As we moved to Switzerland and got accustomed to the education system here, I realised that the same gaps exist in these 3 systems. They all fail to introduce basic business principles and teach business-oriented skills.
I thought the best way to address those short comings was to leverage my own experience and to explain those principles and teach those skills myself, where I can. And when I can’t, I am trying to put my children in a position where they will be exposed to them.
Today I have registered my son in the pilot programme of Biz4Teens. The idea is that in the course of the next few months, he will create and grow his own small business, on the side from school, with my help and with the support of a community.
These are the 7 skills I expect him to learn as he goes through this experience:
1) he can create something out of nothing
It is about leveraging a passion or a talent and turning it into something, product or service, somebody needs to solve a problem he or she has.
2) he will acquire basic computer skills, including website development and social media
School teaches him word, excel and powerpoint for sure. I can complement with a few tricks (vlookup and pivot tables). This programme will teach him how to build a website and leverage social media to create the right buzz and connect with potential clients.
3) he will practice how to sell an idea, a product or a service
It starts by understanding clients problem and then explaining how much easier their life will become once they start using your product or service.
4) he will learn to deal with rejection and build additional strength to get out of their comfort zone and pitch again
It is not easy to be told “no”. Understanding why it did not work, what was wrong in how they approach people, and changing it, so that the next pitch can be successful. And try again.
5) he will develop a customer base
Acquiring new clients is a must for any business to strive. Understanding how to retain them is the next thing. Excellent client service matters. Developing new products to answer other needs of existing clients also helps.
6) he will grow that customer base
The power of referrals and the snowball effect it can have should be leveraged from the start. Happy clients are priceless as they will bring new clients.
7) he does not have to do everything alone
You always have to acknowledge your limits. Learning to pass a much-too-complex task to someone who does it better is key, even if it means you have to pay them money.
I expect this programme will help my teenager develop those new skills by starting his own small business and will give him what he needs to be successful in life!