When God Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade and Teach Business Principles

Lemonade StandFor as long as I’ve been following current events, problems in our system of education have been making headlines. Math, science, test scores and literacy are favorite topics.

However, teaching entrepreneurship is a subject I seldom—if ever—see discussed, so I doff my figurative hat to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) for its Lemonade Day. Join in and pledge to buy a glass of lemonade from a young entrepreneur in your neighborhood.

It’s a cute and memorable way to put the subject in front of the public, but let’s not drop it after this one event. I think teaching the principles of business and inspiring the attitude of entrepreneurism should be a national priority.

Right now STEM education and careers (science, technology, engineering and math) are the hot topic, yet statistics indicate that they aren’t quite the problem some are hyping them up to be. The US graduates about twice as many STEM-trained students as there are new jobs each year and Rutgers Professor Hal Salzman recently pointed out that IT wages today are about the same as when Bill Clinton was president. If there was a huge shortage, market pressures should have pushed them up.

Creating world-class STEM professionals is, of course, critical to our future, but cultivating the entrepreneurs who are able to turn great tech ideas into business realities, is even more important. Which Steve did more to change the world, Jobs or Wozniak?

Here are six principles we should teach our children if we want to bring out their entrepreneurial best:

Goal setting. Get kids to see the connection between today and a point in the future and how the path between those two points can change what the future is like. As they grow older, show them how one goal is a step to another, bigger goal.

Selling. Sell is not a four-letter word; it’s the activity that drives the economy, which creates opportunities and allows people to realize their potential and achieve their dreams (goals). Get kids excited to sell. As adults, we can do a lot to make selling a positive experience for children.

Financial facts. Money and wealth obey some very strict laws and none of us are exempt. We need to teach these to our kids at an early age and help them create the financial habits required for success throughout life. We are truly doing our kids a disservice if we don’t teach them the facts of financial life.

Relationships. Economic relationships and personal relationships have never been closer or more important than they are today. There is a huge “anti-bullying” campaign right now, which is good. However, we should be teaching a proactive approach to positive relationships. Show children how we are all connected and when your neighbor does well, it can help you do well also.

Teams and Leadership. For most of us, there are times when we are called to follow and times when we are called to lead. Children need to be prepared for both roles and find which suits them best. Students who want to lead, need to understand the responsibility that it requires.

Social responsibility. Giving back to the community, treating employees well and being a good neighbor are all crucial for continued business success. Children need to be taught these virtues and experience them at an early age.

So, as you’re buying a glass of lemonade from a young neighborhood entrepreneur, lift your cup, toast the future of business and resolve to promote these principles at home and in the schools.

Sponsored by AT&T

Image: Lemonade Stand by Amy Gizienski, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.