Person-Ventured Entrepreneurship: What Do You Know About Entrepreneurship
“I sincerely believe that if you ignite the spark that lies in all children— whether they are special needs or not— every single child will exceed realistic expectations.”
~ Kristine Barnett Author of The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing Genius
What Do You Know About Entrepreneurship?
Are you an entrepreneur? Do you know an entrepreneur? Is your knowledge of entrepreneurship limited to the characters as seen on ‘Shark Tank’ and the movie “The Social Network”? What do you know exactly about entrepreneurship other than that it involves starting your own business? Does the venture sound as complicated as the word describing it?
What does it take to be an entrepreneur? How smart do you have to be? How creative are entrepreneurs? Does the entrepreneur come up with all the ideas on his/her own? Is someone born to be an entrepreneur or is it something that can be taught and learned? Why are some entrepreneurs successful, and others less successful? How does an entrepreneur define success?
Lots of questions, we know. But asking questions like these is an important start to your journey down the path of self-employment. Why? Because it helps you meter what you know, versus what you don’t know, coupled with what you are unsure about. It also measures your perception of entrepreneurship and how you feel about it. There are many more questions one could ask, but these will get both your mind and your heart stirred enough, to want to ask more questions.
Who Do We Mean by Everyone?
As you may notice the title of this article, we suggest everyone be educated on entrepreneurship (self-employment). But whom exactly are we referring to? Well in general, studies have shown that anyone exposed to & taught the fundamentals of entrepreneurship, show clear indications of better performance and problem-solving in the workplace. Harvard, in a study with the Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship (Also known as NFTE – Pronounced ‘Nifty’), proved that students whom were taught entrepreneurship at a young age, tested better in school, improved their interest in learning and increased their sense of work ethics.
Well, one might say, that because the study was done with neurotypical students, it holds little weight when speaking of students with disabilities. The reality is, the fact that a student has a disability, does not mean they are any less competitive and innovative than neurotypical students. In all actuality, we have seen here at Picasso Einstein that students with disabilities are more competitive than those with no disabilities. We have seen students whom prior to learning entrepreneurship had lived a life simply going along with the plans and activities that were set before them by their parents and therapists with little input of their own. After learning entrepreneurship they wanted a say in their lives, a stake hold in their future, an impact on their own decisions in life. Yes, these changes were shocking and difficult for some families to manage, but they were fundamental changes in attitude and self-determination nonetheless.
Parents are no exception to the rule. When we first started teaching individuals with disabilities about entrepreneurship, they were going home to families that would stifle the idea of them being self-employed. So what did we do? We started “Project Family'” a course that involves the parents and caregivers in the entrepreneurship learning process. We realized early on, that the immediate sustainability of these business ventures need the parents to be involved, versed on self-employment and most importantly, convinced that their son/daughter could fully participate in the venture. A sad reality we deal with all too often, are parents who think self-employment is beyond their children. Many parents have succumbed to the very system that would have all of us focus solely on the disability, and lose sight of the potential abilities. Additionally, many parents have never been entrepreneurs and so therefore, the ability to buy into self-employment is difficult because of the lack of information and/or misinformation about basic microenterprise and self-employment understandings.
Caregivers, Professionals & Teachers can be powerful influencers in a self-employment venture. Individuals involved in the life of anyone with a disability have a unique opportunity to either fuel the fire of self-employment, or stifle the desire. More often than not, professionals struggle to understand how to fully support a self-employment venture. Sometimes the struggle is due to the common disproportionate focus on one’s disabilities, but most times it is simply due to one’s lack of entrepreneurial experience or understanding.
Peers, Friends and Family members are the key I t o long-term sustainability. As part of a needed measure of sustainability, this group of individuals increases in value exponentially when parents pass away, divorce, separate or when they age. Peers, Friends and Family members keep a business venture sustainable, stable and manageable for persons with disabilities especially during moments of psychological & emotional stress. It does not matter where they live, how old they are, or if they are actually blood relatives. Anyone whom the entrepreneur considers to be “family” and/or “friends” can be put to good use when supporting a self-employment venture.
What Does “Educated on Entrepreneurship” Mean?
DON’T BE ALARMED! There is no need to go back to your local university. When we speak about getting educated on entrepreneurship, we mostly mean get ‘UN-educated” about entrepreneurship. Most people have the wrong idea about starting a business. Thanks to shows like Shark Tank, one might think you must have an incredibly innovative idea, or have all of your ideas organized for the business. Thanks to other media, like the movie “The Social Network” one might think that ideas only happen on a Harvard Campus or the like. And lastly, the newest “entrepreneurial movie” to hit the stage was “Steve Jobs” touting the theory that one person creates and others stand around and watch.
When we say get educated on entrepreneurship, we really mean have the right education and perspective on micro-enterprise ventures. Simply put, we encourage anyone and everyone to read about, speak about, exchange ideas and concerns, and share stories of both successes and failures in the pursuit of self-employment. In other words, learn the fundamental basics of microenterprise, not the Hollywood story. With publications like Parenting Special Needs Magazine, accessible throughout the world, as well as countless other sources online, learning about micro-enterprise self-employment has never been easier. There is no need to have an MBA or PhD in entrepreneurship in order to become an entrepreneur. Keep it basic, just like self-employment.
Most of Learning Is Doing
If you have ever heard of Jacob Barnett (young doctoral student with autism currently re-writing Einstein’s Theory of Relativity at the age of 17) then you know that his mother was told he would most likely never speak.
Wow, were they wrong! Look up “Jacob Barnett ted talks” on YouTube. You’ll see what I mean. More importantly though, is not only that he can talk, more so that what he says is amazingly profound. In his presentation he is adamant about the need to ‘stop thinking’ about things and to simply ‘get busy doing’ things. He even relates the stories of very famous “thinkers” in history who really only invented things when they were not busy reading, research, or thinking, but instead, when they got their hands busy doing.
Know what the person with a disability loves to do, learn how other people make money doing the same thing, and try to make money too. There are countless tools online and within your local community that teach basic business elements, micro-enterprise fundamentals and most importantly, provide guidance on how to get started.
Start off simple. Here is a quick sample on how you can get “doing.” Get the person used to referring to their hobby as a career. How? Work with the person in coming up with a name for the business (even if it is temporary). Create a business card with business name on it & their name on it. Why? Because any opportunity you have to materialize a business into a tangible visual support, the easier it is for the person to visualize the reality of the venture. Start designing a website and/or blog on WIX.com. It is a free online website building tool that allows the person, the family and the business support to connect with the world and its potential clients.
To our dear men & women with disabilities: These four articles, although often addressed to the parents, are all about you. It is a petition to all individuals in your lives to look beyond your disabilities and be ‘ALL IN’ for your abilities. Don’t take no for an answer & don’t say no unless you tried and failed at it first. And if you have failed, celebrate the fact that you have tried something new and even scary. If you succeeded, then you have succeeded in the act of trying and doing. Don’t stop doing. Don’t stop trying. You may not be an entrepreneur now, but you can be, if you want.
Parents, please remember, if the plans you have your child’s future, are constructed on and around your presence, then what will occur when your presence is lacking, permanently? As difficult as it may be to think of the day when us parents will no longer be, we beg you to try. Think about it. Plan around you NOT being here. Create opportunities that allow your child to participate in things that DON’T include you. Help them build a business that will be their best friend, their confidant, and their protector for the rest of their lives.
So, in conclusion, anything you have planned for either yourself, or a loved one with disabilities, please remember, if it lacks L.O.V.E. it will struggle to survive the years. If it has L.O.V.E., it may not always demand success, but without a doubt, it guarantees positive results.
Click here>> “How do I get started?”
For more information about Entrepreneurship take a look at these websites:
Ask Important questions to get started.
Use the Self-Employment Considerations Document Here:
Reference websites on entrepreneurship learning, activities and games.
Minerva Vazquez Santiago, co-founder, is a successful attorney focused on special needs law. She has experienced entrepreneurship for the past 15 years.
Boaz Nelson Santiago, co-founder, has a background in psychology specializing in youth leadership and entrepreneurship education the past 15 years. www.picassoeinstein.com
More Person-Ventured Entrepreneurship
- “Person-Ventured” Entrepreneurship Series
- Person-Ventured Entrepreneurship: A L.O.V.E. Story
- Person-Ventured Entrepreneurship: Objectives of a “Person-Ventured” Business
- Person-Ventured Entrepreneurship: How Do You Define Viable?
- Person-Ventured Entrepreneurship: What Do You Know About Entrepreneurship
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This post originally appeared on our July/August 2015 Magazine