Guest post by Daniel Craig
I wasn’t your ideal homeschool kid. Believe me. In fact, you’ve probably heard the breathtaking stories of amazingly disciplined 10-year-old “wonder children” who wake up every morning eagerly waiting to propose their top 5 goals for the day, listed with A, B, C, D and E priorities. Unfortunately for my mother, that wasn’t me.
Nevertheless, though I certainly wasn’t the homeschool poster-boy, Mom and Dad toiled continuously to instill in me the essential character qualities they knew would be paramount to my success in life. For them, homeschooling had less to do with schooling, and more to do with work ethic, more to do with good communication skills, and more to do with my desire to love, fear, and serve the Lord.
With this approach, they gave me the foundation for successful entrepreneurship – long before entrepreneurship was even a consideration in my mind.
The first time I heard the word “entrepreneurship” I could barely utter a comprehensible pronunciation – let alone give a basic definition. Eventually, though, I came to understand that entrepreneurship wasn’t a subject restricted to the few really smart kids – the homeschool superheroes who would go on to start the Microsofts and Apples of the next generation. I realized that the basics of entrepreneurship – responsibility, initiative and ownership – are essential, not just for Fortune 500 business owners, but also for any young person just getting started in life.
A generation ago, this really wouldn’t have been a unique perspective. Today, it’s counter-cultural. No matter where we turn, we’re facing an epidemic of visionless, clueless, fantasy-driven young people. In fact, one of the defining qualities of my generation, the Millennials, is a sense of entitlement – not a sense of responsibility, initiative or ownership.
I wish I could say I never struggled with these weaknesses, but I did. Despite the tremendous advantages you and I have been given, we often fail to invest those talents at an early age as we should.
As I transitioned from homeschooling to adulthood, I grew to understand that unto whom much is given, of him much will be required – and I had been given much. Thus, I realized I had a responsibility to be responsible! I needed to take the initiative to initiate! I had no choice but to own my obligation to take ownership – now!
When we understand that an entrepreneur is “a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, usually with considerable initiative and risk” (from Dictionary.com), we must conclude that with all the advantages and opportunities we’ve been given, homeschoolers of all people should be the most entrepreneurially-minded. We should be known for our keen sense of the needs around us. We should be known for organizing the enterprises which meet those needs. We should be known for our fearless leadership, no matter the cost. We should be known as entrepreneurs!
So here are 4 secrets to get you started.
Secret 1: Be Inspired!
For too long, we have tried to get inspired by looking in the mirror. Incidentally, that approach has produced the must uninspired generation in the history of our nation. The problem is, neither you nor I are all that inspiring! But, what about the glory of God? What about the glorious task He has given us as his creatures of glorifying His name on the earth?
“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion …” Genesis 1:28
Now that’s inspiring! The very Creator of the universe has blessed you with the charge of dominating in the earth as the emissary of His royal authority. You have been commissioned with managing the advancement of His kingdom so that every thought is brought captive to the obedience of Christ!
This is exciting, but we need to understand a few things. First of all, you can’t decline the commission. It’s yours – and you are on duty 24/7. Everything you do must be done with your grand commission in mind. Whether it’s baking bread, taking out the trash, completing homework, working your first job, witnessing to a neighbor, or running a million dollar company, the end goal is that the Father’s will be done on earth, just exactly as it is in heaven.
This means, secondly, you can’t be about your own kingdom. Your kingdom revolves around your ease, your popularity and reputation, and maybe the number of friends you have on Facebook. God’s doesn’t – and there’s not room for both. Those things may have their place, but if we are truly inspired by God’s glory, we may be called upon in a moment’s notice to sacrifice what is most important to us for the purpose of advancing what is most important to God – the glory of His name.
This is what the best entrepreneurs do. They see and are inspired by the big picture. They take the initiative to turn opportunities into managed enterprises. They are not deterred even when this dominion involves considerable personal risk. In short, the best entrepreneurs are inspired by the kingdom and glory of God.
Secret 2: Make the Little Things a Big Priority
Not long ago, I was discussing this concept of entrepreneurship with one of my mentors who is a very successful business man. With his vast experience, I was eager to see what pearls of wisdom he would be able to dispense on the subject. Hoping to hear some dynamic hitherto unuttered secret, I was simply told, “Danny, the most basic characteristic of successful entrepreneurs is maturity.”
Maturity? Really? I had been hoping for something more exciting, but I soon realized his wisdom only echoed what we read in Matthew 25:21, “Thou hast been faithful in a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things.”
When we possess the maturity to make the little things a big priority, we will be given responsibility for greater things. On the other hand, if we lack the initiative to empty the overflowing trashcan, we won’t have the initiative required to act on greater opportunities.
While this concept is easy to comprehend, the difficulty is that we as young people tend to think of “real life” as this “thing” that will begin some grand and important day – off in the distant future. My father was committed to helping me understand how my choices now would affect my future later on. He often said, “If you treat your mother that way, you will treat your wife that way too.” Or, “If you do your chores in a sloppy manner, that’s how you will work for your employer.”
He taught me that there is a very strong connection between what we are now and what we become in the future, and according to Proverbs 22:29, he was right. “Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.”
It’s easy to focus on the big things everyone notices. But if you are faithful to do the little things which don’t seem as important and many people fail notice – you will be one among a million.
Secret 3: Learn from the Best
What is the greatest dilemma of being a young entrepreneur? You know very little; but, even worse, you don’t know what you don’t know! It’s called unconscious incompetency. As hard as it is, we must look beyond our own self-image and humble ourselves enough to realize that all around us are men and woman who have vast wisdom and experience from which we can learn. We must recover the lost art of mentorship.
Earlier this year, I was speaking on this point to an audience of young people at a homeschool conference. As it turned out, there were quite a number of experienced fathers in the room as well. So I asked them, “When is the last time a young person came up to you and just started asking questions to learn from your experience?” The room was silent. This was telling, and upon reflection, I had to acknowledge how I, too, had squandered many opportunities to learn from the experts all around me.
If we want to recover the art of mining for wisdom from those around us, the first step is to develop the skill of asking questions – good questions, motivated by a humble desire to learn. The exciting part is that once we get over our self-absorption, asking questions is quite easy. Could I ask you a few questions? Tell me about some of your successes? What led to your success? If you had the opportunity, what would you do differently? As a young man/lady, what advice do you have for me?
If you run out of questions, just say “Tell me more!” – and more often than not, they will!
Some conversations will go better than others, but that’s okay. Over time, you will begin to find that as you seek for wisdom, God will put people in your life (such as your parents who were there all along!) to mentor and guide you down the path of knowledge. “Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out.”(Proverbs 20:5)
Do you want to be a man or woman of understanding? Start asking questions!
Secret 4: Do Something! Act with Risk and Initiative
Many times, when people finally get to the point in life where they realize it’s time for them to do something of significance, they don’t do anything at all – for the same reason they never have and never will. They simply lack the desire. If that’s you, then go back to Secret 1 and get inspired! If, on the other hand, you do want to do something for the kingdom of God, but you’re not sure how, consider these three key questions.
“What needs do I see around me?” For many of us, seeing the needs of others begins with opening our eyes! Unfortunately, we are so selfish and so concerned with our own needs we simply cannot see the needs of others. Once you open your eyes, if you still have a hard time seeing past your own shadow, reread Secret 3, and start asking questions! Don’t just pursue popular people you enjoy talking with. Seek out the down-and-outer, and discover their needs. Before long, you’ll have a list of more needs or opportunities than you know what to do with.
“I see a need. What can I do about it?” You might not have a clue, but that’s fine. God does. Bring these needs to Him in prayer. Find out who has experience addressing and solving these needs, and start asking them questions. Ask what worked, and ask what didn’t. Start compiling a list of action items, highlighting the simplest first steps. Don’t get bogged down with the end result. All you need to know is your next step.
“What’s keeping me from meeting this need?” We usually answer this question for ourselves a thousand times over before we ever get off square one. Your objections will probably fall into one of two categories – objections rooted in laziness, or objections rooted in fear of failure. If you are struggling with the first problem, go to Secret 2 and develop some basic maturity. If you are dealing with fear of failure, try to rack up a few failures, and it won’t be so fearful. “If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.” (Proverbs 24:10)
[There’s a 5th Secret. If you want to know what it is, order the download of my workshop session, “5 Secrets of Aspiring Entrepreneurs.”]
If you remember, I wasn’t your ideal homeschool kid. Maybe you’re not the homeschool wonder child either. It doesn’t really matter. Each of us has been blessed with talents – some one, some two and some three.
But regardless of the number, we are all under obligation from the Giver to invest what we’ve been given. Don’t hide your talents out of fear. Instead, may your love and gratefulness to your Savior constrain you to willingly serve Him with every fiber of your being. Let that be your motivation to be inspired, make the little things a big priority, learn from the best, and do something to advance God’s kingdom for the Glory of His name.
About the Author: Daniel Craig
Daniel Craig is the founder of LifeLaunch and is passionate about home education, discipleship and worldview! As a first generation homeschool graduate, he completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Music and has pursued Seminary Studies in Philosophy and Apologetics. With this background, Daniel has a great burden for furthering the home education and discipleship vision in the next generation. Daniel shares his expertise and first-hand experiences with parents and students at conventions and seminars across the country. Daniel is also an accomplished tenor and has blessed audiences around the country with majestic and powerful songs of worship to God. He currently resides in Colorado with his beautiful wife, Megan.