Q: I need some guidance so I can help my 15-year-old son become an entrepreneur. His dream is to start his own karate school. He is already a black belt and has said that he'd like to teach younger children and single women how to defend themselves. I thought that perhaps he could run an after-school program or teach a class. He's already had his own little business that we started up for him in the past.
A: It is wonderful that your son is already showing an interest in becoming an entrepreneur. It also sounds like you are providing a nurturing environment for him. The key to any individual's success is the support and encouragement he or she receives while growing up.
The first thing your son should do is acquire a mentor. This would most likely be a current karate instructor who can serve as a sounding board and offer advice on how to further develop your son's skills. He or she can then help your son explore the field he wants to work in. Talking to the current owner of a karate school would also help your son. He'd be able to hear about all the ins and outs that go along with that type of business.
Once your son has acquired a mentor and spent quality time learning more about the profession, he should analyze the local market for that type of service. Are there a lot of karate schools in the area, or are they few and far between? Your son may also want to talk to the teachers and administrators at the local grammar schools in your area to see if they'd like to host a karate program for younger children. Unfortunately, due to the physical nature of karate, there may be some liability issues if a student gets hurt. Therefore, your son may not be able to conduct classes by himself at the age of 15.
Based on the research I've done, it seems a first-degree black belt, such as the kind your son has earned, means that the student has just learned techniques and there is actually a lot more to learn. As your son continues to train, he'll learn about the various types of self-defense situations. Assisting with park district self-defense classes is another way for your son to get some more experience in the field. And then when your son gets into the latter years of high school and college, he'll be more adept at teaching on his own.
For now, your son should really concentrate on learning all he can about the business of karate instruction. He is young, and chances are, if he's this ambitious now, he'll continue to be this ambitious later and will make a great entrepreneur. Following one's passion is the most important part of being a successful entrepreneur. Your son seems to have that down pat. Knowing all you can about your profession so that you can provide the best services possible is the second part of being a great entrepreneur. That takes time and dedication. One of the hardest parts of being an entrepreneur is learning to be patient.
Brian O'Rourke is the CEO and publisher of EnTrends, an online publication devoted to exploring how entrepreneurs work and live.
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.