Ok, it’s soapbox time. We’re going to get into yet another area where our Uncommon approach varies from the conventional wisdom out there. You are probably familiar with the line of thinking that you should take more risks when you are younger because you can afford to lose money and rebuild. You have time.
But think about it this way. A 5-year-old saves all the birthday money from the grandparents and now has $1,000. We know with 100% confidence that they are going to need all of that money in the future. So, shouldn’t they be the most conservative at that point and be careful with that money? Then there is the couple heading into retirement with $2-3 million dollars who now suddenly become risk-averse with their multiple streams of income. Why? They can afford to take more risks now because they have so much capital, along with social security and maybe a pension. It seems like they can afford to be taking more risks.
We think conventional wisdom miscalculates the kinds of risks young people should be taking. We have been invited to speak at several high schools and teach classes on personal finance. As we speak with students, we hear many of them express concern about the pressure to take the common path: get a job or go to college to get a better job. What if they could save $25,000 – $50,000 in instruments that are liquid and secure? What if parents and mentors could help them create a system to increase their income and wealth potential through the 7 sources of residual income? Answer: They could!
This is not some unreasonable ultimatum we’re throwing out there. Go to college, if that is the right path for you, but do more than that. Get training for a trade if that is the right path for you, but do more than that. What is missing in traditional adulthood preparation is that we don’t prepare kids to diversify in the right ways; by helping them to develop multiple paths and multiple streams of income.
We do think it’s true that kids have the best chance to take risks when they are young, but not because they have time to make it back if they lose. That’s too simplistic. When you are young, that is the time to develop the mindset that gives you the confidence to build something from scratch.
If you can develop the mindset when you are young of taking responsibility, solving real issues, about generating real revenue, about listening to customers’ wants and needs, about hiring people and learning to communicate under pressure—that mindset will serve you wherever life takes you in the future.
We just recently discovered a 100-year-old organization called Junior Achievement. They have been doing exactly this kind of education with K-12 age kids all across the country. They are teaching entrepreneurship and business leadership in very hands-on ways that make all of this much less theoretical. Kids, you can build a business.
Junior Achievement has programs focused on helping students start actual business opportunities and invest real money, develop business plans, and grow something from scratch. Further, we think all high schools should have a business entrepreneurship class to teach more of these principles. We’d encourage you to find out how Junior Achievement is active in your region, and advocate for programs in your schools if they are not in place already.
It comes down to this: We are challenging the conventional definition of risk. To us, it is far riskier to take the path of college and then a job when that path might be a horrible fit for you. Staying in some narrow lane someone else defined for you is bad risk-management. You are your best asset, whatever your age, so take a risk on yourself and what you are made of, and you will find a way to make it. You will thrive.
We are all going to be in business somehow. We’ll either be working for someone, creating content, selling our time as a contractor, or more likely doing a little bit of all of these things and more. We all connect in some way with business, real estate, and investments because we all need money to survive. If money is derived by creating value for others then why don’t we focus more on creating our value from what we are passionate about? When it comes to young people planning for their future and the adults who are there to support them, this is the kind of risk you should get behind.