Indian Teens and Entrepreneurship: Can there be a connection?
While entrepreneurs make the world better, teen entrepreneurs create a whole new ‘better world’! One reason we believe why entrepreneurs become stellar entrepreneurs is that we think they’ve 10 years of experience, a boatload of business degrees, and they must have understood all the bits and bobs of business.
Well, that’s not even the case if we look at our teens. They are the changemakers who prefer cash over candy pops, growth over gummies, and tech over toys. Entrepreneurship is a hot topic among the gen-z, yet, surprisingly the trend tends to be a little cooler in the Indian Subcontinent.
Let’s see what the relationship looks like between an Indian teen and entrepreneurship.
What’s Stopping Indian Youth from Getting into Entrepreneurship?
It all boils down to this one uncomfortable question: What will people think? Not to sound pushy but we Indians have an extremely rigid orthodox mentality. The goal of getting a government job is seen as golden and even the thought of being self-employed is shoved down to the scorned portal. The peer pressure from the gossip-loving society suppresses even the smartest dreams, having been spoon-fed since childhood to have a ‘stable career’.
Moreover, to make things more pressing, parents want their children to follow their dreams that somehow they couldn’t achieve. There’s an astonishing gap between risk and benefits so we only know the risks and NOT the benefits associated with teen entrepreneurship. One of the biggest benefits that entrepreneurship unfolds for young minds is the opportunity to learn some important life skills like networking, analytical thinking, money management, problem-solving, and teamwork. These skills not only help in business but also various chapters of life.
Listen, I understand that parenting is not an easy job. You must save them from falling into the scam trap, but it’s also not okay to not allow them to follow their dreams given the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Every successful entrepreneur has had their parents doubt them and then praise them later. A little pat on the back or simply saying ‘you’re doing amazing’ will do the job.
We don’t just have enough rebels
There’s a unique spark inside true entrepreneurs that don’t let them give up and says, ‘’I can’t do this anymore’’. They refuse to throw in the towel and prepare to turn the tide if plan A didn’t work out. Sadly, this conviction is not vastly seen in our teens. There’s a lack of passion and excitement and they prefer ‘security’ over ‘risk taking’.
Our youth fear moving forward ‘alone’ without unwavering support. In other words, we don’t have just enough rebels. A rebel is a person who’s itched by the problems people face and can go miles to solve them. You see, our teens aren’t ready to take this path on their own. They fail to stand up for their dreams and raise voices for what they truly want.
Similarly, people idolize starting from a salary of 20,000 and reaching 20,00,000 in 10 years. They end up choosing to take this cloudy route than the less traveled one- entrepreneurship. The inadequacy of resources, such as fluent education and an infrastructural framework that fosters entrepreneurship, is one of the driving factors behind this.
Tech is tough and we fail in funding
Apart from our limiting beliefs and pessimism, there are two big areas where we fall short: technology and financing. Technology is at the heart of entrepreneurship, and funding is the engine that powers it all. India is still competing to become a technical leader, but the story looks alarming. Paradoxically, Indian-born techies are winning the world, but not from within India. Every year, a strong group of talented professionals exits the country, leaving fewer opportunities for teenagers.
A business can operate using either tech-intensive or labor-intensive strategies. Another flaw is that India delivers abundant labor in terms of quantity rather than quality. If we want an efficient entrepreneurial society, we have to transition to the techno paradigm. Moreover, much of our technology is either too expensive or beyond our grasp.
Similar to the tech scene, the state of funding also looks concerning in India. People are not market-friendly and hesitant to invest in startups, let alone ‘teen startups’. Angels fear founders will run away with their money. According to the GEM international experts survey 2015, the major roadblock in startup culture in India is the lack of funds.
The reason why India doesn’t innovate is that Indians are resistant to their traditional means of doing things. Until and unless we acquire solid capital raising and technical resources, the situation is bound to stay the same.
Taxation is tricky for us
‘If I earn more, I’ll have to pay more tax, so it’s better to stick to a job’ is what an Indian teen thinks when he second-guesses building a business. Oddly enough, schoolers have almost no financial knowledge and money management skills hence they fear tax to death.
On the flip side, taxation has a role to play as it blinds entrepreneurs aiming to move ahead. Paying taxes is a big burden even for grown-ups, let alone for GenZ who are gradually galloping the tricks and treats of this world.
OMG-IDK-WHAT TO DO- are the anxiety phrases that these little ones sum up for the annual problematic paperwork. But what could be the triggers causing this tax terror? Since GenZ has an inherent trait of not taking help from others, documentation becomes hectic for them. And because they were raised with almost no financial education things become tricky for them.
Taxation affects the degree of risk-taking which is the essence of entrepreneurship. In a brighter future, we’re still to see more startup-friendly tax codes, incremental forums to improve tax knowledge among youngsters, and a likely build-up of major tax reforms for teen entrepreneurs.
Why do we need more young entrepreneurs now more than ever
India needs more job-makers
It’s not a secret anymore that a lot of companies are actively firing employees after the Covid-19 took over the world. So, promoting more self-employment opportunities almost becomes a no-brainer.
It’s high time to change the status of India from a job-seeker country to a country of job-makers. By incorporating the spirit of entrepreneurship into our young souls, we can bring this notion into reality. Undoubtedly, entrepreneurship creates fantastic employment opportunities. Imagine the quality of jobs that will be generated if Genz, who is unparalleled in terms of technological and inventive knowledge, enters the game.
We need ‘better’ leaders
The Gen Z gang is seen as the most promising to date when it comes to becoming the change-makers of society. The entrepreneurial mindset of young ones can decline the turn-ups for stereotypes and pave a new era for the future. Young business leaders do rigorous research to be sure to know what society as a whole needs, and what problems they’re facing, and then develop the most interesting ways to find the solutions.
Entrepreneurship instills in them a ‘let’s do it together’ attitude instead of ‘Follow me. This team player attitude diligently questions the stereotypes in society all while increasing the standard of living.
Entrepreneurship encourages critical thinking and solving bigger problems
Entrepreneurs think beyond the box and tackle challenges in clever ways. Teenagers already have dynamic brains, so they aren’t easily sucked into the taxing challenge of doing things the same way every time. They are actively engaged with their target market and are aware of the issues they face. They’ll also go over the bounds of critical investigation to get the perfect solution. Teen entrepreneurship encourages a growth attitude, terrific ambitions, and perseverance in the face of setbacks.
Meet these teen entrepreneurs taking over the world: one kid at a time
- Cory Nieves, AKA, ‘Mr. Cory’
Cory Nieves became a millionaire at 15 having established the cutely famous cookie brand, ‘Mr. Cory’s Cookies’. The purpose behind him doing and achieving all of this will trap you in an emotional bubble!
Cory wanted to make big money to get his mom a car so that she doesn’t have to take the bus in the snowing cold. After selling hot chocolate out of a friend’s restaurant, he soon started his cookie venture, which turned out to be what we know it is today.
- Erik Finman, The Crypto Crank
The genius kid, Erik Finman, is a bitcoin millionaire. At the age when others watch scooby doo, Erik was in an amusing battle with his parents.
The deal? Turn $1000 into $1 million, and the rest is history. Finman’s decision of dropping conventional college ways for an entrepreneurial journey turned out better for him.
- Benjamin Kapelushnik, millionnaire @ 16
Many people dream day and night of becoming a millionaire and are buried with the same dream. But one talented teen managed to make millions by selling sneakers at the age of 16. Rooting from South Florida, Benjamin, AKA Benjamin Kickz has a glamorous story to tell. He started by selling sneakers to DJ Khaled followed by P.Diddy and French Montana.
We know sneaker fever among Gen Z, so the young business giant was successful in seeing this as an opportunity and making big money out of it.
- Matt Parr, The youtube king
Matt Parr is ruling at youtube and by the time you’re reading this article, he would’ve probably made more thousands or so dollars. At the early age of 14, Matt embarked on the journey of becoming a YouTuber. He’s currently 19 and has almost 10 channels under his brand.
Thriving companies bootstrapped by passionate Indian teens: Case studies
- Ritesh Agarwal, Founder of OYO rooms started at 17
We know Ritesh Agarwal as a household name in the budding entrepreneurs of India. He’s the recipient of the Business World Young Entrepreneur Award and established his name under the Forbes 30 under 30 list. His company, OYO, one of the early unicorns of India, is valued at around $43 million at this time. Ritesh could not have achieved all these accolades if it was not for him to start at 17. The man behind OYO rooms had the vision to create affordable accommodation that guests can book instantly. Strangely, his journey was not all sunshine and rainbows, he had to drop out of college and face pushback from his people. Gives us the lesson to stick to the roots even when all the odds are against us.
- Advait Thakur, the founder of Apex Infosys India, started at 12
The success story of Advait Thakur proves that age is just a number that should be left outside the door. Advait was hooked to computers since the age of 6 and soon enough, his tech-savviness was turned into a full-fledged business when he turned 12. How many of us can build a functionally efficient website? I’m sure only a few. Surprisingly, this prodigy of a kid was able to build a website of his own, by self-learning coding when he was 9! His company, Apex Infosys, is an IT automation company, and amazingly, potentially worth millions.
- Ojas Batra, the Hive group of companies, is a serial entrepreneur at 16
Ojas Batra is the mind behind Hive group of companies and a serial entrepreneur of x4 business. But here’s something surprising about him: he’s only 16. If that was not enough for Ojas to achieve all of this at this tiny age, he also wrote a book called ‘teenage AF’ and became an author. The intellectual boy dropped out of school after 10th grade after feeling the education system wasn’t a good fit for him.
- Tilak Mehta, papers and parcels, Started at 13
It’s unbelievable to know that somebody at an age of 13 is capable enough to launch his own flourishing business. The young Mumbai lad was unable to get some books from other parts of the city since he wasn’t okayish enough to ask his exhausted father to drive him there. The idea of starting a same-day delivery logistics company bulbed in his sharp mind and gave birth to papers and parcels.
Is Our Education System Hurting Or Helping the Entrepreneurs: Fact Check
It’s hard to put away but the Indian education system majorly produces doctors, and engineers rather than geniuses, prodigies, researchers, problem solvers, and inventors. This is because we have an outdated curriculum that needs to be adapted to what today’s age demands. Strangely, we lack in 2 aspects: vast vision and lack of robust faculties. Also, our education structure has started to weigh more on money and less on value. This results in a massive shift of interest from value-based learning to concept mugging learning.
It’s a moment of misfortune for us that we’re not giving our teens the scope of entrepreneurship through education.
Here are the key aspects where we should unquestionably pivot:
- We need to divert from administrative thinking to creative thinking.
- Universities and colleges should get more funds to promote new research.
- Emphasis on knowledge than grades when it comes to evaluation.
- Stressing more on out-of-the-box thinking or ‘jugaad’ thinking.
- Taking failure as a learning process instead of taboo.
- Considering pivoting is a normal phenomenon when things don’t go as planned.
- Seeing no evil in dropouts.
- More courses need to be introduced on entrepreneurship with tech-based learning.
Enhanced Entrepreneurial Mindset: What These Countries are Fantastically Nurturing, But We Are Not!
Becoming entrepreneurs is the second stage of growth, building a constructive entrepreneurial mindset still remains the first! In an age where everybody is rushing towards and chasing greedy success, it’s important to nurture children in order to instill a problem solving mindset into their little brains.
You see, there’s a difference between a businessman and an entrepreneur. While a businessperson is aggressively involved in activities like raising capital, reducing liabilities and extracting resources, an entrepreneur survives in a bigger picture. On a brighter note, an entrepreneur steps into a problematic world and puts his soul and heart to bring solutions to it. It requires a polished mindset to do any possible thing to satisfy this crave of change.
So do you think that this mindset can emerge in their minds on its own? Of course not, right?
Just like a flower doesn’t grow on its own, you have you sow the seed, then water it nicely and gradually see it growing – a mindset grows the same way. It can’t be done as a one day shot, rather it’s a result of comprehensive injection of skills like creativity, business insights and value building attitudes.
First world countries like China, US, Australia and the UK are constantly encouraging their kids to climb into the entrepreneurial spirit. These countries are great for business, and often a wonderful consideration among talented Indians to migrate towards.
But have you ever wondered why these countries are able to snag and utilize this last piece of the pizza, aka, much desired thing? It’s simple. Because their economy is booming as their people are not afraid to tackle the risks and are willing to grab even the toughest opportunities.
You’d ask, what does this have to do with mindset?
But really, you tell us, what will an economy do to itself if all of its people decide to sit at home. Dumb answer but sufficient enough to satisfy and make you understand that an economy is run by its people.
And people are run by their mindset.
And mindset is a result of our experiences, skills we’ve learned along the way and how we position it all into the ecosystem.
Instead of telling why this majorly misses in India, let’s see what these other countries provide to teen entrepreneurs- that we don’t!
- Open minded people who are willing to adapt to the change.
- Wide acceptance which allows these young minds to openly share their ideas and thoughts on both familial and governmental level.
- Supportive policies to help young startups.
- Government jobs aren’t a big deal.
Now you know that mindset is the primary destination in the entrepreneurial journey.
You see, we are literally falling short on this utterly basic step. Our stereotypical mindset isn’t letting our kids pursue their dreams!
We are failing to provide critical creative skills, out of the box thinking attitude, financial literacy and business understanding to our teenagers.
Understandable. So, as their guardians, it becomes our responsibility to help our kids develop this mindset, before it’s too late.
Now, this is what we can do after taking notes from the practices these countries are involved in:
- Cultivating Independent thinking
- Encouraging their innocent out of the box ideas
- Inculcating a habit of problem solving in them and taking measured risks.
- Developing basic business knowledge around the concepts of tax, revenue, operations, profit and loss.
- Showing them the importance of delegation, pivoting and perseverance and when to do what.
One way you can practice this is by initiating a lemonade stand activity. Lemonade stand activity is a fun filled activity in which kids are taught how to run and start their own businesses. Basically, the youth is encouraged to open up various lemonade stands throughout the community and earn through it. This is a great way which combines value learning and fun in a wonderful way!
Smart kids transform into smart entrepreneurs which in turn make the world a smart, sustainable and productive place. Moreover, it not only benefits them on the business end but also on the personal end by making them better and responsible citizens of the world.
India is a garden of resources, it blooms opportunities and cultivates growth among its heirs. We’ve so much untapped potential that even a small step in the right direction would open the doors to an electrifying outcome. Embracing the capabilities and innate talents of our teens and giving them a chance to do what they truly believe in would not only help them in their lives. A little push and a lot more support & guidance would also give this world, you, and me a gift of breakthrough that we were longing for an erstwhile.
(Articulated and supported by Ankit Khurana)
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