business owners are made, not born
Magazine (reprinted with permission)
Donald Reimer, CMC
more than 20 years, I’ve been involved in fostering the development
of family-owned businesses. I’ve personally assisted in the birth
of new businesses, and the experience has been both challenging
and reward- ing. To see someone get his or her hands around an idea
and bring it to life is what the American dream is all about.
the entrepreneur’s role in the job-creation process is vital to
our economy. In the years ahead, the largest number of new job opportunities
will be created by closely-held family businesses.
believe that the future of Michigan’s economy lies in the stimulation
of entrepreneurial thinking. We must begin to identify entrepreneurial
skills at a younger age. And we must develop the curricula that
teach the skills of successful business ownership.
teaching experience has drawn me into the classroom, where students
tell me that they find it hard to see themselves as employers. When
I ask them why, the answer is often that the entrepreneurial opportunity
just hasn’t been brought to their attention by family members, friends,
or the school itself. Most school curricula tend to focus on obtaining
a job-on working for someone else. This emphasis puts students on
the road to dependency; it certainly does not foster entrepreneurship.
future of Michigan's economy lies in entrepreneurial thinking."
it is exactly in youth that the fires of the entrepreneurial spirit
must be kindled. Many studies have found strong evidence that the
family unit can play a key role in fostering self-employment. That’s
why schools and families must work together to recognize and develop
the entrepreneurial traits that exist in young people. And teachers,
counselors and the small-business community must expose young people
to the opportunities of business ownership.
may think that I believe that self-employment is for everyone. I
certainly don’t. My point is that we’ve gone too far in the other
direction; we’re talking, teaching and acting as if working for
someone else were the only alternative, when for some, it may not
be the better choice at all.
it surprising that people still believe that they "own"
a job. People who work for others don’t "own" their jobs.
They perform functions according to specific job descriptions. A
person will have his or her job until someone else is given that
function - or until that task is eliminated. But if, through entrepreneurial
education, we can identify, stimulate and realize the potential
for business ownership, we’ll be able to utilize the now untapped
people resources that are the catalyst in the creation of new jobs.
continued downsizing of middle-management ranks in large firms can
mean opportunity for those who may be interested in self-employment.
Un- fortunately, these people are not prepared for the road that
lies ahead. Most of them have been told and taught how to find a
job - not how to create jobs for themselves and others.
cycle of dependency is now a major problem, and it must be broken.
It should not surprise you that a great many people spend a large
portion of their lives working for someone else, doing something
they neither enjoy nor find challenging. But today, education institutions
are just starting to do more to train tomorrow’s entrepreneurs.
The result can only be a higher rate of job creation.
can help. I urge them to talk to teachers and counselors about programs
for young people interested in business ownership. A child could
be a potential entrepreneur without even knowing it. If he or she
is easily bored, has average or below-average grades, has a limited
attention span (but is capable of great effort on projects in which
he or she is really interested), then that boy or girl may actually
be looking for the kind of challenge that entrepreneurship offers.
programs have provided an excellent way for high-school students
to explore business leadership. However, most of JA’s adult advisers
are from larger corporations.Young
people in the program are not exposed to the owners of smaller and
mid-sized businesses, even though this exposure is critical to their
gaining insight into the world of business ownership.
like to challenge the Business Education Alliance and the Detroit
Compact to involve a much larger segment of our business community
in their mission. I believe that smaller and mid-sized businesses
would welcome the challenge that the Compact offers. The idea of
a job guarantee appears to be more of the same - a dependency on
big business. But we can no longer rely on big business to be the
primary source of new employment or job security.
must come from the ability of individuals to compete in the marketplace,
and armed with their. knowledge, their talents and their confidence