I don’t have kids yet, but I think about them. And I’m already thinking about the skills they are going to need 25 years from now — in the event that they are anything like me, an entrepreneur. But how in the world can I help them stay ahead when I don’t even know what business is going to be like next week?
The iPhone is only seven years old. To date, there have been over a million apps developed for the iOS app store, which only launched in the summer of 2008. And with millions of people around the world — especially the BRICs: Brazil, Russia, India and China — coming out of poverty and into the middle class, our future American generations face more competition than ever.
So, what do we need to teach them? I believe there are three critical languages future entrepreneurs must learn. Namely:
- Computer programming. I’m only 27, but even I missed the boat on programming by five to 10 years. Talk about feeling antiquated. But how early do we begin this training? My answer is as early as possible, when their brains are sponges and when learning addition and subtraction seems just as complicated. The computer is the new blank canvas, and whether it’s business, entertainment or productivity, programming is where it all begins.
- Mandarin. China has been building their infrastructure for the past 15 years to move people into cities, and now these people are growing up in a more comfortable living environment. They are spending, creating and learning, and they have quickly become America’s number one economic partner. Much like Spanish had been the most popular secondary language offered in my high school, I think Mandarin is, and should be, next in line. And just like computer programming, I think children should be exposed to it very early on in order to become fluent enough to actually use it as a form of communication. Some schools already have it in their curriculum as early as kindergarten.
- The Entrepreneur’s Dictionary. I’m not saying that math and social studies are not important — they are. But I think they could use a little infusion. As an entrepreneur, I use my knowledge of personal finance and economics every day. The rhombus and the polygon? Not as much. Maybe not in kindergarten, but I think a base understanding of financial concepts — gross profit, net earnings, year over year sales, net interest margin, cost of goods sold (COGS), etc. — is worth introducing. Now more than ever, business owners have to be able to think like the bankers, venture capitalists and private equity firms that are looking at investing in or acquiring their businesses.
Even though we are not even pregnant yet, my wife and I have already begun looking for schools that offer this kind of education. Right now, the schools are typically private and cost a fortune, but hopefully this will change in the future. The good news? I know my child doesn’t need to be a genius, he or she just has to learn these skills to speak the language of entrepreneurship.