5 Ways Social Media is Enabling Teen Entrepreneurship
Generation Z is thought to be one of the most socially conscious generations ever. They are poised to be the most entrepreneurial too.
An Internships.com study in February 2014 showed that 72% of Gen Z’s want to start their own business in the future and 61% of high school students said that they would rather be entrepreneurs than employees.
Given the fact that today’s graduates face extremely tough employment conditions, as well as the fact that graduates of tomorrow likely need to prepare now for jobs that don’t yet exist, it would seem prudent to encourage and empower entrepreneurialism through our children’s education.
Queensland recently announced its Advancing education action plan to position schools to support students more efficiently in developing the knowledge, skills and qualities needed for them to be job-ready for the jobs of the future. Could this go further still to prepare students to be the creators of the jobs of the future?
In his article Future Looks Brighter if we create our own jobs and prosperity, Bernard Salt suggests “the skills required to deliver future prosperity are based around education, innovation and enterprise. We need the right social infrastructure (university and vocational training), technical infrastructure (high-speed internet access), support programs (upskilling, reskilling, continual learning) and overall attitude towards business creation (entrepreneurialism).”
Author of “Disrupt Yourself” Whitney Johnson says she asked the children of her Generation X friends what they do to earn money, few had “traditional” teen jobs like waitressing or office administration with over 70% self-employed. “Today’s teens are getting a completely different work experience than I did – and it’s better preparing them to be innovators”, she said.
“We think there’s at least 50,000 school kids running real businesses around Australia,” said Council of Small Business of Australia chief executive Peter Strong.
A complexity of factors has contributed to contemporary teens’ appetite for entrepreneurialism. However the ubiquity of social media is arguably the most significant enabler of teen entrepreneurship. “Because of technology, their “lemonade stand” can be on any street corner of any city in the world”, says Johnson.
With the reach and accessibility of social networks like YouTube, Instagram and Twitter, budding entrepreneurs can easily create and promote content and share their expertise with a global market.
Here’s how some teen entrepreneurs have incorporated social media into their success, beyond brand building and promotion:
- Gathering Knowledge
14 year old entrepreneur Naomi Benenson is the creator of the Wish2Wish app where people share changes they want to see in the world. These “wishes” receive votes and feedback from a global audience. For her, the power of social media is in what you can learn by following and listening to others online. Her greatest influencers are those she follows on Twitter.
- Raising Awareness
At just 18 years of age Myla Swallow designed a sterilization system that reduces infant mortality in Third World countries. The Founder of Clean Water Initiative said “it started going off on Twitter and a lot of people have been emailing me.” “I never considered it would get the attention it’s been getting.”
- Creating An Audience
Passionate about inspiring children in today’s digital age to embrace entrepreneurship through technology and innovation, 16 year old Brisbane student Taj Pabari’s ImaginTech tablet kit is designed to teach children about computer hardware and software. Taj made his entrepreneurial debut at the age of 11 through a tech blog “for children, by children.”
- Making Connections
Jaylen Bledsoe is a 17-year-old entrepreneur, investor, technical prodigy, business development consultant and motivational speaker. He says, “I have used Twitter to reach out to many celebrities, such as Jordin Sparks. Thanks to our engagements on Twitter, I actually work directly with her non-profit, The MAD Girls Inc. as a consultant.”
- Securing Funding
18-year-old high student Megan Grassell is the founder of Yellowberry, a company making wholesome, age-appropriate bras for girls aged 11-15. The teen entrepreneur reached out to Facebook groups and online groups that promoted causes aimed at empowering young women with her Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign and exceeded her $25,000 funding goal.
While much of the current social media education in Australia has tended to focus on issues around cyber safety and bullying, it’s important that we also lay the foundations for positive and proactive use of the digital tools that are so crucial to successful innovation and entrepreneurship today.Tags: Generation Z, social entrepreneurship, social media, Social Media Education, students, Teen Entrepreneurship