When 11 year old Jack and 9 year old Lucy had some time on their hands during the last school holidays, they decided to use it wisely. Spurred on by their idea to create an app, they eventually came up with Mooey and his Mates, an interactive iphone app based around Lucy’s cuddly toys. Their father, a graphic designer, then put it into action, and the app went live.
But they have since taken the idea further. They decided to promote their app at a local trade fair, but knew that they would need more than just an app to sell it, so they came up with the idea of making Mooey merchandise, including mugs, aprons and iphone covers to develop the brand. Not only that but they learnt some invaluable lessons on business and enterprise, learning about upselling and cross selling, for instance. They have also been able to conduct some vital market research on their friends, a few of whom have even downloaded the app.
And though remarkable, Jack and Lucy are far from the only young people in the world of business. Over in Acton, Texas, there is even a young people’s entrepreneur fair, Acton Children’s Business Fair, where children as young as 6 (and as old as 14) try and impress an elected panel of local business people, who judge the youngsters on their pitch, their product, and the marketability of their idea.
Several initiatives in the UK are also in place. On the Money, an initiative with Education Scotland, for example, has run a series of talks with notable entrepreneurs, including Sir Tom Hunter, Scotland’s richest man, and former owner of Sports Division, and Nicola Morgan, author of ‘Charlie Fly and the Nice Dream’ who proves that a knowledge of business and money management is crucial to professional success in any walk of life. She actually describes herself as an entrepreneur – for to be entrepreneurial, she says, you have to be able to use your own ideas for a practical purpose.
There is also MyBnk, a social enterprise based in London, which runs workshops for young people aged between 11 and 25, which teaches the building blocks of money management and business with practical lessons. For instance, earlier this year, it launched a ‘bank’, where school children run a bank using their classmates’ savings as deposits, which they can then lend out to community projects, in order to learn more about how the financial system works. Since it was founded in 2005, it has worked with about 50,000 young people. This once again shows that these skills are very useful for teaching children about business, but absolutely vital in gaining independence and financial well-being.
This highlights the growing importance the government and other organisations are placing on teaching children and young people about enterprise. The economy has changed, and good A-levels and solid university degree are no longer sufficient if a young person wants to make themselves stand out from the crowd. Increasingly, entrepreneurial flair is becoming important, not least for the characteristics you have to possess to be successful.