We’ve all heard the stories of kids starting a business at a young age. It’s a tempting scenario: Your child develops a passion for something, turns it into a business, and before you know it, they’re supporting you in your not-so-old age. Generation Alpha are those born after 2011. In 2050, the eldest Alphas will turn 40. Marketers and human resources professionals aren’t even looking at the Alpha’s – the focus now is on Generation X, Y and Z. But in my opinion, we can’t ignore Generation Alpha. The entrepreneurs of the future.
As with all generations, when and how they grow up impacts how they behave and the choices they make. Growing up, we all discovered that life will knock you down. You may have not gotten that spot on the team, the grade you deserved or the recognition from your peers. The list could go on. Similar to how you may have lost some and won some as a kid, you will constantly win some and lose some as a Generation Alpha (Future) Entrepreneur.
I guarantee you. You will get knocked down and need to get right back up. This is the backbone of being an entrepreneur. What I have come to realise about becoming an entrepreneur is that you need resilience to continue to push forward. Yes, I know this can be hard for all generations, but I especially think it is difficult for the younger generations (Generation Y – Millenials, Generation Z – iGeneration (iGen) or Digital Natives, and in the future, Generation Alpha).
The world built up their hopes about what was possible after working hard in school and getting a good education. In some cases, it seemed as though all of their dreams would be fulfilled after going to University or College. It is my opinion that there are many that never learned what it means to be resilient and patient. Moreover, the later Generations are regarded as more cynical than their predecessors. These Generations are not likely to show too much company loyalty. They don’t know much about a time before Social Media and easily accessible Technology, which can make them very reliant on technology to solve problems for them.
Generations Zs, the group born between 1995 and 2010 grew up when social media was being established. For them, it’s a tool. For Generation Alphas, it’s a way of life. Generation Alpha is the first group who will be immersed in technology their entire lives. These kids are also referred to as the Glass Generation because their glass-fronted devices will be completely integrated with their lifestyle – they will not know communication without it.
It goes without saying that technology must be embraced in today’s schools, but what is of crucial importance, is that it is effectively used to enhance pedagogy and improve learning.
Solid technology skills will not be enough to ensure entrepreneurial success.
Just like Generation Z before them, schools looking after Generation Alpha must cultivate the spirit of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurial thinking and leadership are imperative and entrepreneurship courses must form part of the curriculum where collaboration between subject disciplines is encouraged.
Solid technology skills will not be enough to ensure entrepreneurial success.
- Creative problem-solving.
- Human interaction.
- Building rapport with a client or colleague.
- Establishing relationships and building trust over time through excellent service delivery.
- Working as a team.
These are all skills that can’t be ignored and that may very well not form part of the future educational approach towards Alphas.
Due to the times they live in, Generation Alphas will come to parents and teachers naturally curious about their world and wanting to explore it. Their imaginations are vast and untamed, creating endless amounts of practical and impractical things.
In my opinion, this culture of entitlement and the “I deserve it” attitude is what will prevent success. And, to be honest, it is a nasty trait.
Read More: Why Do Millenials Choose Entrepreneurship?
Against this backdrop, I do believe it is important for every generation to learn from the one before and after them. In this case, Generation Alpha can learn from Generation Z and most importantly, look to their parents to foster and develop the Entrepreneurial Spirit they may have within them.
Predictions and Tips to Consider:
- They will be a more entrepreneurial generation: Every generation from here on out will become more entrepreneurial than the next because they will have had more access to information, people and resources earlier in life. Although they may be more entrepreneurial, teaching them the non-technological soft skills alluded to earlier will be vital to increase their chances of success.
- They will be the most tech-savvy and not know a world without social networking: Alpha’s will be introduced to mobile phones before becoming teenagers and will take most of the technology we use today for granted. Their mobile phones will be so sophisticated when they become teenagers that they will primarily use their phone over a laptop or desktop computer. They will gravitate to applications that are extremely easy to use and visual and expect everything to be customised to their needs. This may – on the negative side – create a sort of brat attitude. I want it now. I want it all.
- They will primarily shop online and have less human contact than previous generations: Their mobile phone is their new friend. They look to social media influencers to mould their dreams of what success looks like. Technology will hurt their soft skills – like communicating in person. Generation Alpha will be the most connected generation yet spend much less time talking to their peers in person. There will be clear psychological challenges with this generation as they will feel more alone, despite being so connected.
- They will be extremely coddled and influenced by their Gen X and Y parents: Alpha’s could potentially have older parents because Gen Y’s are waiting longer to get married and have children. Gen Y’s were always made to feel special and that will carry onto Gen Z because, how you were raised is how you raise your kids.
- Parents (and teachers) need to stoke their passion: If there’s one thing kids have in abundance, it’s a passion, and that’s how most kid-run businesses get started. Encourage their passion, but direct it in such a way that it’s productive. Don’t forget the soft skills. Their mobile phones and social media presence won’t guarantee success.
- Don’t let them cut corners: Just because your budding entrepreneur is not yet old enough to vote, that doesn’t mean they don’t have to follow the rules. Teach them about the necessary permits for their business, the taxes they will have to pay and business insurance they would have to take to protect themselves.
- Be supportive, but don’t be a crutch: If your child is going to be an entrepreneur, he/she needs to do the work – the good, the bad and the ugly. Don’t gloss over the difficult parts, like managing the money or dealing with dissatisfied customers. If you only let your child do the ‘fun’ parts, they’ll be in for a nasty surprise as they move toward managing the business on their own.
- Let your child make the decisions: You can certainly point out things they should be thinking about, and help them evaluate the pros and cons when they’re faced with a dilemma. But the final decision should be theirs.
- Share your knowledge and experience: If you’re a business owner yourself, tell your child what you learned and what you would do differently if you had it to do over again. Then, stand back, and let them use that information the way they see fit.
- If it goes well, don’t let them become complacent: Make an effort to ensure your children are not raised with a sense of entitlement. Success doesn’t come easy. Alpha’s need to know about the long gruelling hours of starting your own business. The sacrifices of not paying yourself a salary in the first few years of setting up your business. The fact that it is in most parts, a lonely, scary road. And no, success is not what is shown on social media, i.e. fast cars, luxury, foreign exciting destinations, a perfect image, etc., etc. In my opinion, this culture of entitlement and the “I deserve it” attitude is what will prevent success. And, to be honest, it is a nasty trait.
Entrepreneurship is just as much of a mental game as it is a game focused on having a great idea, business model, concept, team, etc. And it all starts at home. In school. Amongst your family.