Let’s Jumpstart Young Entrepreneurs- Remember This Garage?

Now designated as a historic site, 2066 Crist Drive in Los Altos, California was the hangout for the founders of Apple, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak- friends, and students at Homestead High School.

But pass by and it looks like any other garage in the suburbs. And that is the point. 

These two teenagers, motivated and energized to ‘push the envelope’, challenge traditional thinking created a new computer, the Mac®. And, after many ups and downs, launched Apple®. Two teenagers taking an amazing journey, disrupting traditional thinking, taking risks, creating massive economic value.

We need more ‘garages’ where young adults are motivated to push the envelope and develop pursue new business opportunities. We achieve that objective with a two-pronged approach using Motivation and Empowerment. Motivation to open young adults to opportunities and benefits of entrepreneurial thinking. Empowerment giving young adults the tools and education helping them succeed no matter what career path they choose.

Teaching and working with hundreds of early stage ventures confirms to me young adults are excited about ‘doing their own thing’. But many also recognize the difficult road developing a new business and the high risk – 50 percent of new ventures fail after 3 years.  

And young adults do recognize the opportunity. Key findings in a 2017 Gallup/Operation Hope report showed strong student interest in entrepreneurship but they faced challenges. Some study highlights:

  • Nationally, about four in 10 students (41%) agree they plan to start their own business, but less than half of all schools offer classes in how to start and run a business. And this number has decreased since 2011 — from 50% to 43%.
  • Half of students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds agree that they plan to start their own business, compared with 35% of students from high socioeconomic backgrounds. But students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds face more obstacles — such as a lack of social or financial capital or other resources — than their peers from high socioeconomic backgrounds.
  • “Our index shows students remain optimistic but lack the financial literacy to compete globally with other students. This is bad news for America,” said John Hope Bryant, founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE. “We need to prioritize the economic engagement of today’s youth and promote financial literacy, financial dignity and entrepreneurship in underserved communities.”
  • Gallup Chairman and CEO Jim Clifton noted, “There are some promising signs, however. About 40% of students want to start a business or invent something that will change the world. The problem is, only 5% of these students are in internships in companies or organizations. This is arguably the single biggest failure of our leadership. Not Washington’s, not the public schools’ — but yours and mine.”

What is also less reported is the role of minorities in today’s entrepreneurial revolution. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that while the total number of businesses in the U.S. declined from 2007 to 2012, the number of Latino-owned businesses grew by 46 percent. In a 2015 study, the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative (SLEI) reported that Latino-owned businesses tend to start small and stay small, representing just 6 percent of all U.S. employer firms. In 2016, Latino-owned employer firms generated over $400 billion and employed almost 3 million people, which, in magnitude, is much lower compared to white-owned firms. White-owned firms generated over $10 trillion and employed 17 times the number of people, or over 52 million people. Today’s young Hispanic entrepreneurs are fueling the next generation of Latino-owned businesses.

I am encouraged talking with business leaders who share my vision on the opportunity to motivate and empower young entrepreneurs. But we can do more to fuel growth of young entrepreneurs. Developing creative programs to promote entrepreneurial motivation and empowerment among young adults, we can help create the next generation of ‘garages’ driving today’s entrepreneurial revolution and economic growth. Let’s get moving!

Paul B. Silverman

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