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April 18, 2014



Financial Lessons: Entrepreneurship

Welcome to the final lesson this week, this time concerning the always important topic of entrepreneurship.  I doubt something like entrepreneurship could really be properly taught in a classroom; the essence of being an entrepreneur is having the drive and willingness to go out, experiment, possibly fail, and if so, getting right back up with a new idea and trying again.  I doubt such a spirit can be taught in school (although, if there are any colleges that offer remedial courses in it to twenty-somethings, I’d love to hear about it).  With that in mind, onward to a lesson that hopefully instructs on some of the methods, if not the motivations, to becoming an entrepreneur.

The Lesson

There is a charge you’ll hear every so often from the financial media about the educational system, claiming that it is designed for twentieth century lifestyles, to slowly mold young people like yourselves into cogs in the industrial machine.  For my part, I don’t believe this is so; we as educators try to expand and improve the minds of our young charges, yourselves included, to the best of our abilities.

But still, there is a grain of truth to this criticism.  We have a tendency to push you towards the waiting doors of a university, there after to find yourselves encouraged to seek a job that, in days gone by, would last the rest of life.  For better or worse, the world where you could be a company man (or less commonly at the time, a company woman) for forty years and retire with a gold watch, a pension, and a condo in Florida has all but disappeared.  Now, even if you go the traditional route of working for someone else, you can expect to change your job at least three times during your lifetime.

In the right hands, a computer is the entrepreneur's best friend

In the right hands, a computer is the entrepreneur's best friend

In such an environment, I’d be remiss in my duties as an educator if I didn’t at least mention an alternative: striking out on your own, as an entrepreneur.  There’s no better time in history for you to attempt to make a little bit of money when you get off of school, without having to take a part time job at a fast food restaurant.  The abundance of personal computers, the rise of the internet, and the ever increasing ways that entrepreneurial youngsters like yourself can use them to generate a profit is something that continues to amaze me.  Furthermore, you are at the perfect age in which to put your talents to use; you still have your parents to rely on in case your attempts fail, you are young enough that a temporary set back will not ruin your future, and you likely have a better understanding of current technology than any of your teachers, including me.

You might be wondering how you can put your skills to use and maybe earn some money along the way.  What follows are a few suggestions I can give you about ways to set your entrepreneurial spirit free.  It’s by no means a complete list, but will hopefully spark a few ideas and perhaps inspire you to come up with some thoughts of your own:

1) Create a Blog – Yes, it is a very common idea, and yes, you will face quite a lot of competition, particularly if you attempt to blog about a very popular topic, such as personal finance, technology, or toughest of all, blogging itself.  Still, if you are able to create interesting and unique writing on a regular basis and do not get too frustrated by the time it takes to get yourself established, blogging and be an interesting way to share your thoughts and possibly make some money.

2) Post Some Videos – If you’re a class clown, or simply believe what you say and do is of interest to the rest of the world (I’m looking at you hiding in the back there, Evan), by all means, make a video or two and put it up on YouTube.  Besides the opportunity to share yourself, you can also now profit from your popularity by becoming a YouTube partner and sharing in the revenue you generate.  Hey, it’s one way to make a living.

3) Sell Crafts - You might not have much to write or to say, but if you are the crafty sort (as in, you like to make crafts), you could find a niche selling your works.  Site like Etsy and Ebay make it easy to sell just about anything you could imagine, profiting from your creativity without ever leaving your home.

4) Offline Entrepreneurship – Lest this list convince you that you need to be online constantly in order to become an entrepreneur, here’s a handy reminder that there are still money making opportunities in the real world.  Consider the humble lemonade stand: not the most high-tech of possible money making opportunities, certainly, but one example of how to make money in the ‘meat-verse’ without having to rely on bosses or paychecks.

Hopefully, this list helps you to think about possible ways you can stretch your inner entrepreneur.  For homework, just try to come up with a few ideas for how you personally could make some extra money.  Class dismissed!

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