In Nigeria, thousands of university graduates troop into the labour market every year. Behind every graduate, there are proud parents, family and friends that dedicated their resources to ensure these young men and women became university graduates. The twist is there are few good job opportunities for this army of graduates. The world is changing and the young graduates are adapting to the new realities. They have embraced entrepreneurship as an escape from the scarcity of good jobs. A small percentage of fresh graduates find well paying jobs but majority become accidental entrepreneurs.
The parents of these graduates saw graduates of their own generation get good jobs upon graduation so they find long term entrepreneurship scary. The uncertainty, the huge responsibility and the long waiting period before success comes makes entrepreneurship a no-no for a lot of parents. I’ve heard stories of parents taking their children for deliverance because they chose entrepreneurship over regular work. The truth is life is mostly mathematics and art. The numbers don’t add up. Government cannot employ every graduate and if every graduate goes job seeking and none is focused on job creation, we will continue to have few jobs.
I can imagine how hard it is to support your children on a path you haven’t walked. Parents of the 1950s trained their children to the university without knowing how to read or write. The parents of the 1950s in Nigeria only knew how to farm, fish and trade but they knew times were changing and they supported their children and ensured they got good education. Parents had to let go of the time their kids would have spent helping on farmlands so that they can study and excel in school. They may not have been able to read books but they could read the future. It paid off eventually; most of those children lifted their families from poverty. Times have changed again; today’s parents may be employees or retired employees, or even struggling entrepreneurs but they may have to raise entrepreneurs.
The stress on the family of the entrepreneur is quite evident. They will use your home as their first office. They may borrow your kitchen as their first production factory. They may even use your car for deliveries but in the end, if you support them with your counsel, your network, your love, prayers and money, they will make you proud. As a parent, here’s how you can raise successful entrepreneurs:
Books are a good place to start. Find good books on entrepreneurship and give them as gifts. They could be ebooks, paperbacks or audio books. Parents can also read or listen to the books so that they have basic understanding of entrepreneurship. This knowledge is useful when parents need to communicate with their children about their business or help them in any way.
A new business needs ‘believers’. That’s why it’s important to introduce your children to people within your network who can be helpful in their business growth. These people may be in your church, office, industry or community. The decision/policy makers and top entrepreneurs are often difficult for young entrepreneurs to reach to, but with your help, this may become easier.
New businesses need office space, furniture, logistics and so much more. Young entrepreneurs would find it hard to raise enough money to have everything they need from the start. You can encourage them to approve the use of your idle car, office space or even your house for their business. This saves them a lot of money and allows them time to incubate and plan. So many successful entrepreneurs started from their parent’s house.
Entrepreneurship can be very challenging. Failure is brutal and sometimes an idea can fail despite best effort. Your kids need your undying support and love, not judgment. Successful entrepreneurs succeeded because they were able to get back up from failed ideas. Like Winston Churchill said, success is being able to move from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.