My year as a preschool teacher was eye opening. It taught me that small children are the role models of humanity – they’re curious answer-seekers, nature lovers and loveable creatures all around. But they grow older, as we all do, losing that je ne sais quai of childhood.
But what if entrepreneurs spent some time with preschoolers? What could a preschooler teach an entrepreneur?
1. Question Authority. There comes a point in a preschooler’s journey where they start questioning authority. Adults often view it as the beginning of rebellion. What is actually happening is that children’s curiosity reaches a plateau, and they begin to question everything, including authority. Likewise, it would be wise for entrepreneurs to question authority, and by that I mean opinionated mentors and established institutional ways of thinking. Sure, mentors are there to help out, but they are merely offering opinions. Likewise, institutions, such as your alma mater, would rather you find a real job (especially if that leads to a donation at some point). If an entrepreneur doesn’t understand or doesn’t believe in what is being said, then they should ask questions. If someone is telling the entrepreneur that their idea will never work and that they should get a real job, they should question it. Usually, if something doesn’t sound right, entrepreneurs should question it, just like preschoolers do, all the time.
2. Experiment. It might seem like a nuisance when a preschooler can’t stop putting toys inside of his mouth, or when she starts throwing building blocks around the classroom, or even when one bites a classmate’s arm. But in most cases, preschoolers are constantly using experiments to understand the world in which they live. When an entrepreneur is building a startup, they should constantly be experimenting with the world (market) that they are targeting, whether they are studying market size or analyzing their competitors.
3. Seek Mastery. One of the defining features of preschoolers is that they like repetition. When they are singing the same song or doing a puzzle over and over again, preschoolers are actually seeking mastery of a subject. In the startup world, each entrepreneur is expected to be a master of whatever problem it is he or she is trying to solve. Entrepreneurs should read everything there is to read and learn everything they can to make sure that they are one step ahead of anyone else on the playing field.
4. Look for Patterns. Anyone who has worked at a preschool knows that there is nothing more comforting to young children than knowing what to expect each day. These munchkins are easily surprised and entertained, but nothing calms them down more than participating in circle time every single day, and singing the same songs every single day. Preschoolers like patterns, and good entrepreneurs do, too.