Growing a passion for entrepreneurship at a young age

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Thousands of ambitious and inventive students gathered in Fredericia, Denmark last Thursday to celebrate innovation and entrepreneurship, where they competed to have the best ideas, creative solutions, and designs at the Danish Entrepreneurship Awards 2015.

As a part of Global Entrepreneurship Week Denmark, The Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship, in collaboration with neighboring community Trekantsområdet, gathered over 6300 students in Fredericia for a day full of entrepreneurship. Several competitions happened during the event, and by the end of the day 14 ideas was honored with prizes on stage in front of thousands of participants. See all the winners here.

“It’s super interesting and fun to be a part of, and we get the opportunity to see what the others are working on,” says Maj, a 13-year-old participant in Project Edison.

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The purpose of the day was to create a learning forum for entrepreneurship for children in younger grades, and get them excited about creating things themselves. If innovation and entrepreneurship is incorporated into curriculum from a early on, children have the opportunity to see how the concepts they learn in school can become something real and tangible.

Different zones at the event offered counseling, lectures, and networking geared towards pre-teens. There was also a learning zone, where teachers could find resources for incorporating innovation and entrepreneurship into their lessons.

The event is part of a strong push in Denmark to take away the fear of jumping into entrepreneurship, by instilling an interest in it at a young age.

Do we need to change in the future? 

As schools try to awaken a passion for entrepreneurship at an early age, it begs the question:  What will the future of entrepreneurship look like? Professor Magnus Klofsten, founding director of Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) at Linköping University, Sweden, gave a lecture about new tendencies within entrepreneurship and made some predictions about the future.  What will need to change in order to make new startups a success?

“The internet has revolutionized entrepreneurship in general, and therefore it is extremely important that we understand changes are necessary,” explains Magnus Klofsten.

Compared to earlier times, entrepreneurs of today have a closer relationship to consumers.  This is largely due to the internet, which has brought innumerable changes to the field.  User location is now inconsequential, and businesses can reach their customers easily and rapidly.

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Today’s entrepreneurs also have more resources available to them, and can find guidance for their business models, strategy, investment, and growth.  A business nowadays often has all of the important building blocks to launch and scale before it is even incorporated.  This is a significant change from as recently as the 1980’s, when business models were iterated alongside stakeholders.  Not to mention, the resources needed to start a business, such as software, are often free.

Magnus Klofsten suggests that societies go further in investing in growth and development programs supporting entrepreneurship, to help create and maintain a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem.  It is especially important to develop targeted programs, that can be geared towards different types of entrepreneurs, as opposed to entrepreneurs in general.  A startup with a proven idea and market demand has very different needs than an unproven idea, and so on.

The future of entrepreneurship will bring a diversity in types of entrepreneurs, and it is important to help facilitate learning groups between different types of businesses, and help startups to connect with the right people and networks to execute their ideas.

Why wait if you can do it now? 

The main thing holding back the younger generation from engaging in entrepreneurship is the fear of starting your own business while still being in school.  Many young people think that juggling a business and schooling is impossible.

Anne Bigandt and Kasper Schierff are two young entrepreneurs who have proved otherwise. They are both less than 15 years old and have their own business.

Anne Bigandt is 13 years old and sells homemade jewelry and headbands through her brand bybigandt on Instagram.  She says that the hardest part of running a business is being your own boss, and the sacrifices you have to make in your free time.  However, she has no doubt about that this is what she wants to do. She would gladly give up some of her hobbies for the company.

Kasper Schieriff is 14 years old and he sells used bicycles on Facebook. He points out that as an entrepreneur, it is not necessary to have the newest equipment to get started. The most important thing is to have the right approach. Kasper’s weekdays contains school, followed by a hobby, and then the rest of the day is focused on work. It takes a lot of time, but he has never been in doubt about his decision to start his business.

A huge group of students gathered at a presentation by Anne and Kasper, and the interest was overwhelming. The two young entrepreneurs received questions about registering their businesses, finance, and work-life balance.

“Why wait? If you can start this early then you should just get going”, says Anne Bigandt and Kasper Schieriff.

School and age are not obstacles for starting a business. If you can dream it, you can do it.

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