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Developing Business Skills in Middle Schoolers: Here’s What to Know

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. But developing business skills among middle schoolers can go a long way for them.

Passions that middle schoolers take up are often their true callings. Any big idea, be it being in a rock band, or making technology that will forever transform mankind, or even manifesting a unicorn, demands business skills to truly make a difference.

And that is why it is never too early to condition kids to develop entrepreneurial skills. They are much more likely to build on the skills that they pick up in middle school. After all, when Wordsworth said, “The child is the father of the man” he was onto something.

1. Encouraging Creativity

Our creative energies are a product of our general dissatisfaction with how things are. When youngsters see a shooting star, they bombard their parents with questions like:

Mom, where do comets come from?”

“Where do they go?”

“Why do they shine so much brighter than anything in the sky?”

“Could that be an alien spaceship?”

We call this “curiosity”. Too many times, the parents will string them down with a “Not now, mom’s busy.” or anOh you’re too young to get it, honey.”

Here’s the problem:

Although it does a great job of relieving the parent of having a real conversation with their child, it trains the kid to stop wondering. The next thing you know, they are taking up career paths solely because “everyone else is doing it”.

Quenching a young mind’s curiosity is fundamental to encouraging original thoughts. We call this “creativity”. And what are future entrepreneurs without the ability to think for themselves? That’s right, nobody.

These little instances, at home or in the classroom, are what decide whether or not a kid continues to hone their creativity. Providing them with an environment where they can think freely, experiment, fail and learn is what will make them innovators in the years to come.

2. Thinking Critically

This needs to be spoken about in the same breath as curiosity and creativity. Critical thinking involves objectively analysing and evaluating a problem in order to stumble across a solution. If your kid is to sit on the boss’s chair someday in the future, they will need this skill to prosper.

The market rewards a certain type of work (which we will get into in a minute), and this type of work can only be accomplished with a mind that is capable of zoning into one problem and thinking critically to solve it.

Here’s the thing:

The biggest entrepreneurs of our time are the ones who provided innovative alternatives to existing systems. Take Elon Musk, for example. He ideated PayPal to provide people with an easier way to exchange money online.

It is not so much about how well the product was marketed or advertised (although they do play important roles). It is about how much value was the idea able to generate.

Is it affecting and helping people? Is it making things more difficult than they were before?

Good business ideas are essentially those which solve big (or small) problems. The guy who came up with toothpicks probably did it to help himself clean his teeth after Thanksgiving. A business idea can be a great one without being a grand one.

So, how do we know what the world needs? This brings us to the next point:

3. Educating Them on How the Market Works

At 17, middle schoolers ask permission to go to the washroom. At 18, they are asked to choose their careers. What this tells us is that schools fail to educate teenagers on things like finances, employability, start-ups, etc. in any real way.

But it gets worse:

Along with these specific things, schools also fail to teach middle schoolers concepts like accountability, discipline, dealing with failure, and time management. These are skills that an entrepreneur has to devote years to acquire. And they can cut the time short if, and only if, they start early.

But to expect something of that magnitude from the incompetent education system would be unrealistic. So, we as adults can do the job of informing them about how the market works. Knowledge of the marketplace will motivate middle schoolers to take actions and acquire other business skills on their own.

So, how does the market work?

Anything and everything that can be replicated with ease is a low value service/product. Only the services/products that require intense concentrated effort to conceive, and happen to provide value to people are the things that will stand the test of time.

The keywords are “relevance” and “rarity”.

4. Teamwork as a Means for Success

Pop-culture glamorized the idea of the lone wolf. Mister Brooding Guy, who is not a team player, hates

everyone he works with, and sabotages friendships. But this could not be further from the truth.

This might sound like a ridiculous claim, but the kind of entertainment that kids consume during these impressionable years do shape them and their belief system. So, when they consume stories on characters who don’t work well with others, they will pick up these antisocial traits.

And in the real world, it is pretty difficult to navigate through corporate settings or entrepreneurial pursuits without being a team player.

If teaching business skills is the agenda, then middle schoolers should be encouraged to collaborate as often as possible. They should be taught the art of passing critiques, empathizing with their fellow teammates, and developing good leadership qualities.

In conclusion, it must be remembered that not every kid is meant to be an entrepreneur. And that is where the nuances of parenting and educating children come to play. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. But developing business skills among middle schoolers can go a long way for them.

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