The young entrepreneurs Pablo Grendelmeier (22 years old) and Martin Drescher (24 years old) laid the groundwork for their company while still at school. The two avid video producers carried out their own film projects in their spare time and networked with like-minded people at the Basel-based society Artless Films. Their first paid film commissions gave the pair the self-confidence – and the starting capital – to turn their passion into a profession after leaving school.
Entrepreneurship for juniors
Anyone who wants to be successful as an entrepreneur some day must learn to think and act entrepreneurially: developing their own ideas, mapping out goals, working together with others and proactively planning their finances. Entrepreneurial ability is not only of fundamental importance for future company founders, it is also a valuable skill for all children and young people with regard to their personal development and future career paths. We show parents how they can bring out the entrepreneurial spirit in children.
Founding a company instead of studying
Instead of following the usual path of higher education followed by employment, Pablo and Martin became their own bosses even before finishing their school studies. In 2016, they founded the film production company Aviaticfilms. The start-up initially specialized in aerial filming. Pablo and Martin recognized early on the potential in the new generation of commercially available drones and invested in acquiring the relevant equipment and developing their expertise. Aviaticfilms now offers the entire spectrum of film production, from conception through to ground and aerial footage right up to post-production. Their formidable customer portfolio includes well-known clients from the Basel area and beyond.
The courage to be an entrepreneur
Founding a company was a bold step for the two school leavers. With their desire to become self-employed as soon as possible, they are an exception in Switzerland: according to the The link will open in a new window Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2017/18 , 18- to 24-year-olds do see entrepreneurship as a good career option, but only 3% seriously contemplate starting their own business – a very small percentage compared with other countries. The authors of the study speculate that the reasons for this are a lack of self-confidence and an unwillingness to leave the “comfort zone” of the employment relationship. In order to promote entrepreneurialism in this age group, children and young people should be educated in entrepreneurship at an early age.
Independence as a field of learning
Parents whose son or daughter chooses a profession outside the classic career path – and all the stability and financial security that offers – arguably also require a great deal of courage and trust. Pablo’s father didn’t have these doubts: he was certainly surprised when, at the age of 19, his son wanted to found his own company instead of studying. However, he always supported the decision and believed in his son’s vision and abilities. Perhaps not least because Pablo had already pursued his interests very independently as a child and a youngster and carried out his own projects.
Pablo and Martin themselves have never regretted their decision, and their success confirms their choice. They are convinced that their own business activities have taught them more about running a company than a course of study could have told them. Their parents are also impressed by what their sons have learned and achieved at such a young age, and by the determination and independence with which they continue to develop their company.
Pablo and Martin’s career path shows what young entrepreneurs need to set up their own company and at the same time illustrates the skills that independent entrepreneurial activity fosters: undertaking self-reflection and direct responsibility for individual growth, identifying opportunities and developing ideas, setting out goals and carrying out projects, networking and collaborating with others, and planning and analysing finances over the long term.
Tips for parents
All of this demonstrates that acquisition of entrepreneurial skills is not just worthwhile for future start-up stars, but is also an important field of development for children and young people whatever their circumstances. Here are our tips on how you can bring out the entrepreneurial spirit in children and young people:
Entrepreneurial competence requires a high degree of autonomy: it’s all about recognizing personal interests and potentials, generating one’s own ideas, taking initiative, making decisions, etc. Encourage children to make decisions for themselves, to try things out and to put their own ideas into practice, e.g. while playing at home, pursuing hobbies or getting involved in clubs.
In everyday family life, parents can also create opportunities for kids to deal with small challenges. For example, you can give your children the task of planning your next family outing or dinner all by themselves. The children have to research what is needed, determine costs and weigh up options against each other, coordinate helpers, and so on.
Various programmes and initiatives enable children and young people to develop their own ideas and try their hand at being entrepreneurs for the first time in a fun, playful way:
- The non-profit organization The link will open in a new window Young Enterprise Switzerland runs various programmes for practice-oriented business education. These include the well-known The link will open in a new window “Company Programme” , in which students between the ages of 16 and 20 set up and run a mini-company.
- The The link will open in a new window “Impact Hub Fellowship – Children and Youngsters” from Impact Hub Zurich and the Mercator Switzerland Foundation backs innovative projects to support children and young people.
- At ETH Zurich, there are various The link will open in a new window workshops, excursions and other offerings for children and young people related to science and technology.
- With the The link will open in a new window digital youth competition “bugnplay” , 8- to 25-year-olds in various age categories can implement and send in their own ideas, inventions and visions.
- The The link will open in a new window Smartfeld initiative in St. Gallen offers children and young people courses, school projects and a “Creativity Lab” to immerse themselves in the digital world and implement their own digital projects.