What 4 Areas Must You Add to Your School Program?
Typical school curriculums focus on passing the tests. They prepare you to take the SAT or ACT tests, and as the Common Core evolves and becomes more standardized, you can expect this to permeate all school curriculum. The question is, does this lead to a great future? The answer is NO! This is not what businesses – who are under pressure to make the numbers work – are after.
In a recent phone call with a father, who is raising seven children with the three oldest now in their teens, he asked me, “What should we be doing?”
This is the big question. What should you be doing? It’s hard to answer. If you’ve read my writings or attended our online Raising Entrepreneurs Mastery Group sessions, you know that the typical approach to education is not working, in my opinion. You also hear me talking about being more entrepreneurial – or building an entrepreneurial mindset. But how? Here are four things parents can easily build into their typical day at home without needing specialized training as an entrepreneur.
Sales & Marketing and Other Business Skills
On our call, this father mentioned that his sons were doing some wood turning and perhaps cutting some lawns or selling some baked goods at a local farmer’s market. While these things don’t necessarily lead to a great vocation, they do have merit. Learning to buy and sell is a skill that everyone who plans to earn money should learn.
Just having the ability to step out of your comfort zone and quote a price – or ask someone to buy something – is a skill that takes practice. It requires one getting over their self-esteem problems, and learning how to interact and meet strangers. Most sales people fail because they can’t do this simple thing.
Another great exercise is getting your sons and daughters involved with anyone who is selling to you. So if you are considering a new car, upgrading your home in some way, or hiring someone to fix something, get them involved with the sales people you deal with from day one. Let them see the good and the bad.
Marketing is a whole other skill set. Marketing is the key to business growth. Without marketing, sales people will have a hard time finding anyone to sell to. It’s not just advertising – it’s finding the right market, building the right message, and figuring out the most effective and efficient way to get that message out.
Take time to observe the marketing around you and comment on what is good or not so good. Pay particular attention to direct response marketing. That is ultimately what the entrepreneur will be using if they’re smart.
I recommend that students start reading great sales and marketing books throughout their high school years, and be working out what they are learning through any type of business that can be used to practice the things I’ve mentioned above.
Other skills might include money management, communications, public speaking, etc.
Work Ethic & Character
At age 15, your son or daughter may have some kind of job that earns money, but does not provide a good long term career. This might be the same as the things you sell or market, or it might be something else. If you cut lawns or babysit, you can use that as a platform to learn the basic work ethics and character required to be successful.
Work with your young people on punctuality, perseverance, and just plain working hard all day. It’s uncommon for a 15 year old to put in an 8 hour day. School doesn’t train people to work like that. In class, half the time people are day dreaming. In yard work, most teens put in an hour or two and then move on to some other activity. Learning to work hard, all day, with an eye towards excellence, is something people need to learn.
There are many other lessons on customer satisfaction, going the extra mile, and really learning to serve people, that can be developed here. Many of these lessons can be learned while doing work at home. They don’t require an outside job.
Specialized Skills & Intellectual Capital
Specialized skills and intellectual capital are generally things that have higher earning potential. For instance, in this call I was on, the father told me his oldest son, age 15, was studying computers. He’s not yet at the point where he can actually earn money doing this – so what should he do?
By breaking up the learning process I am describing here, this son can learn to sell using his wood turning and farmers market. He can also get a sense of how to manage money, buying and selling, gross margin, etc.
He can learn character at home doing his normal work around the house. This father would be wise to add to his son’s work, pressing him to put in full days of work and doing more school work during the evening or on the weekend. That might sound cruel and unusual, but that is how full-time employees manage their schedule.
Then, add time during the work day on certain days, that is dedicated to deep-dive learning. It’s amazing how much you can learn when there’s something to really focus on. I have one of my sons working on fixing used bicycles for money, which falls into the first group – buying and selling. But then, on other days he is studying robotics and computer technology on the hardware and software side of things. It will be a while before he can make any money with this, but the future is promising for this type of knowledge and expertise.
Finally, there is the need to develop a mindset for using work for God’s purposes. All Christians should have a foundation in this. Understanding the purpose of work and how to view it from the stand point of the gospel is an important part of any Christian education.
You might think you have to be telling someone about Christ to be doing something Christian in your work, but that’s not the case. Consider some quotes from Tim Keller on this topic:
“God is the creator of the world, and out work mirrors his creative work when we create culture that conforms to his will and vision for human beings – when it matches up with the biblical story.”
“Christian labor has it’s orientation toward God himself, and we must ask how it can be done distinctively and for his glory.”
“Much work that Christians do is not done, at least not in its visible form, any different from the way non-Christians do it…Of course, all Christians (should) work with radically different inner motives that those who don’t believe, and this can certainly make a difference in the quality, spirit, and honesty with which a believer labors.”
© 2014, David Stelzl