Regardless of background, ideology or industry – most people in the world agree that entrepreneurial innovation positively impacts society and the world. Future leaders and entrepreneurs grow up in a world where technology and information change more quickly than ever. Information learned in school can be obsolete by the time students graduate. This is why young entrepreneurs need the support of the people that understand how a swiftly changing environment impacts the business community and how that relates to the role of an entrepreneur.
Current entrepreneurs and small business owners should invest in supporting and training up-and-coming entrepreneurs to ensure the most vibrant workforce possible for all entrepreneurial endeavors. It benefits everyone to encourage and train students interested in starting businesses, and the network of SBDC’s is an example of how small business support can make a difference.
Here are the top ten ways for small business owners to commit time to supporting the cause of “The Next Generation of Entrepreneurs”. The best part about this list is the fact that these practices also benefit the business owner.
1. Volunteer to speak at local high schools and colleges about entrepreneurship.
2. Volunteer to be a judge at DECA, FBLA, NFTE and other youth leadership competitions.
3. Host and mentor an intern at your company.
4. Contact local schools and offer to have one of your current business challenges used as a case study for a class. Then interact with the class when they present their recommendations.
5. Recommend the resources at the local Small Business Development Center so that young entrepreneurs know the programs that are available. The SBDC resources are available to anyone – even if they are under 18 as long as they have a parent’s written consent.
6. Make introductions for young entrepreneurs to create connections and open doors to resources that may not be possible at their age.
7. Find ways to partner with promising young entrepreneurs by evaluating their business plans with an eye for collaboration.
8. Take a young entrepreneur with you to an industry or networking event and introduce them to everyone you know.
9. Find a way to offer small business projects to young entrepreneurs that could lead to bigger opportunities.
10. Find a young business leader and make a commitment to meet with them on a regular basis to mentor and encourage them. Give them book suggestions, recommend continuing education opportunities and relevant industry events.
2012 has been called the “Year of the Entrepreneur” by many. I think that the next decade will be the “Age of the Young Entrepreneur”.