4 Reasons Entrepreneurs Should Work With Up-and-Coming Talent
My entrepreneurial aspirations were formed early in my youth. My parents allowed and encouraged me, even at a young age, to have a daily newspaper route and mow neighbors' lawns on the weekends. I also had chores around the house and earned a modest allowance.
While these experiences provided me a pocket full of singles I could flash at the mall arcade, more importantly it provided real-world work experience that formed my impressions of adulthood early.
These days, opportunities for youth to gain these valuable life experiences are much more limited. The increased awareness of dangers posed to youths has changed the attitudes of parents, and often parents fill this gap with extracurricular activities to keep their children busy. This attitude shift has also affected the way our children are treated at home.
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Case in point, a recent Wall Street Journal article, by Jennifer Breheny Wallace, which pointed out that while 82 percent of parents did chores growing up, only 28 percent require their children to help around the house, a result mostly attributed to our increased involvement with extracurricular activities.
This is important because, as Ms. Wallace points out, research shows that assigning chores is one of the most important predictors of future success, as it teaches children self-reliance, responsibility and empathy.
As an entrepreneurial community, we may have little effect on swaying the attitude of parents at home, but we can make a positive impact by providing more opportunities for youth to gain valuable experience in the real world.
One way is to be more willing to work with, mentor and provide work opportunities for young and talented individuals. Doing so will not only help nurture the next generation of business leaders, it could have profound effects on your business.
Of course, you should be diligent in your hiring practice and be sure that you are adhering to state and federal labor laws, but here are a few reasons why you should considering working with young talent.
1. Fresh perspectives
I often meet other business owners who feel that their years of experience have prepared them with the tools they need to successfully navigate difficult business challenges. While this may be true, experience is also responsible for creating paradigms that make it difficult to find and capitalize on new ideas.
Young and ambitious minds, on the other hand, are much more open to new ideas and willing to listen to feedback in a constructive way. They have grown up with access to information at their fingertips, so they might be prepared to tackle contemporary challenges better than generations without the same resources.
2. Fresh solutions
Our culture is full of people who are really good at finding problems, but short on people who are really good at finding solutions. Unfortunately, my experience has shown me that the older we get, the more inclined we are to find problems rather than solve them.
Young talent, however, are hungry for challenges. Many are looking to prove themselves, and if provided the right environment to do so can be encouraged to find solutions you may have never considered.
3. Collaboration and new networks
Aging entrepreneurs, even if technologically inclined, were raised in an age before social media and the Internet. In the minds of many of them, sharing ideas or collaborating on ideas is risky, because they have always achieved success mostly on their own and are inherently paranoid.
Youth today have grown up on technology and are accepting of its integration in everything they do, from location sharing to photos and status updates. They are the first generation raised in the sharing economy. Because of this, the idea of collaboration is not only something they are good at managing, but it will be something they expect.
4. Contagious creativity and enthusiasm
There is no shortage of creativity and enthusiasm in youth, who have not yet been completely tainted or soiled by the harsh rigors of business and life. Those that understand the importance of work experience at a young age are clearly courageous, ambitious and typically wildly enthusiastic. All of these traits will undoubtedly rub off on everyone in your organization -- as long as you allow them to.
As an aging Gen-X entrepreneur, I see and understand the challenges of finding the time and energy to train, manage and mentor young talent in my businesses and why it would be intimidating for others. With that said, I have also witnessed firsthand the tremendous benefit of having fresh minds at the strategy table with me.
Youth can be eager to learn, willing to take on challenge and brave enough to disrupt your status quo. Any cost in dollars, time and mental focus of having them around is far outweighed by the benefits.
Have you worked with young talent in your organization? Please share your valuable experience with others in the comments section below.