Entrepreneurship is more than just going out and incorporating a business. It doesn’t just have to be building a product or launching a service and claiming a slice of equity in a company. It doesn’t even have to be solely an issue of business.
At its core, entrepreneurship is creative problem solving.
Entrepreneurs are people who see a need that is not currently being filled or served by existing options. They go out and create a solution to this need and fill a gap. They make people’s lives better off in the process.
Homeschooling is a type of entrepreneurship in itself. Homeschoolers are people who see the current services being provided in education as not fitting their needs and who decide that this will not prevent them from creating an education that best fits themselves or their children. Where most people would throw up their arms and give up, homeschoolers see a gap as an opportunity to provide something better.
There are a few things that homeschoolers do that make them entrepreneurs in their own right.
1. They Don’t Settle
Most people settle when the current options presented to them don’t meet their needs. The grocery store doesn’t carry a dinner mix they wanted? Better get the next best thing. There are no taxis around? Better wait for one or take the bus. Can’t sell your house at the price you want? Better just go with the low price so you can get rid of it.
Entrepreneurs don’t look at these problems as insurmountable gorges that require you to climb down and then up. They view them as gorges over which you can build bridges.
The same goes for lifestyle.
Your local school doesn’t provide the best education possible for your child?
The non-entrepreneur: Oh well. Let’s put them in some after-school programs and a few test-taking classes and hope they do better than the rest!
The entrepreneur: That’s not going to do. We can do better. This is important and we will create a better option.
The homeschooler doesn’t settle on the options available to them. They don’t see everything on the menu, get disappointed, and order the least-unappetizing meal. Instead, they go out and create a better, appetizing meal.
Homeschoolers are able to survey the situation around them (i.e., “school doesn’t provide the best education possible for my child”), look at the resources available (i.e., “I have time and connections to the Internet and a variety of other resources including courses and curricula where necessary”), and can develop a course of action (i.e., “I can provide the best education possible here at home through the combination of my time and these resources”). This is the same process that the entrepreneur goes through when they decide not to settle on options available in the marketplace.
2. They Act
Everybody knows the “would-be” entrepreneur. It’s the guy who is excited to tell you about his next big idea or might even let you in on a market gap that he sees needing filled. The thing is, he never acts.
Similarly, there are a lot of blogs out there about entrepreneurship — most of which are read by non-entrepreneurs, and even written by non-entrepreneurs. When the going gets tough, most people would rather settle than actually act. They may think up a new plan of action, draw up ways that one could act, but when the opportunity comes their way, they slink back to their day-job and put their plans off.
The entrepreneur has a bias for action that enables them to act and get going. Once they are going, they continue this bias and get out of bed to keep the company rolling. They could slink back into bed and do nothing for the day — there’s no boss that is going to call them and make them come into work — but if they don’t, then the company doesn’t keep moving forward.
The homeschooler is once again the same way. Everybody knows somebody who says, “Oh, you homeschool? I could never do that!” — which roughly translates into, “Oh, you homeschool? I would never want to actually put in that kind of work!” It’s the same exact attitude given to the entrepreneur who has built a successful business from the ground up.
The homeschooling mom or dad doesn’t have a Superintendent who will angrily call them to wake up in the morning if they choose to not get out of bed — yet most still do get out to get the house going. Even in an unschooling environment, somebody has to get up, make breakfast, and get the day going. They choose to act when others choose passivity.
3. They Go Against The Grain
Their differences from the main don’t end at just how they act and how they build their lives and how they live — they do something that most people find confusing or scary.
In fact, the business entrepreneur and the homeschooler (lifestyle or education entrepreneur) probably share the same exact experiences. When the entrepreneur quits his day-job to take his company full-time, his family will question him, he may even receive some remonstration from his mom or a distant aunt who suddenly finds it her place to offer life advice. When the homeschooler decides to pull her children out of school and educate them at home, she likely receives the same reactions. She may even be a little bit worried about what other people think — but at the end of the day, she goes against it.
Despite its recent growth in the last few years, home education is still pretty uncommon in the United States, just like entrepreneurship. Only about 3.4% of school-aged children are homeschooled. If it’s fitting in that you are trying to do, neither homeschooling nor entrepreneurship will achieve it.
4. They Adapt To Changing Forces
If an entrepreneur just develops a stock business plan for his company and never changes it according to the needs of his customers, he goes out of business. The homeschooler is no different. Whether it’s traditional homeschooling or unschooling, a parent who chooses to homeschool their children has to be prepared for changing forces as the child grows. A 6-year old can’t be treated exactly the same as a 16-year old. If they choose to treat both exactly the same, then the parent runs the risk of infantilizing the older of the two or misses valuable teaching opportunities with the younger of the two.
5. It’s Not Just a Job — It’s a Lifestyle
There’s all the difference in the world between somebody who chooses a day job and somebody who chooses to build a company. The entrepreneur has to be ready to answer the phone and take responsibility when stuff starts to hit the fan.
Homeschooling is exactly the same way. There’s no guidance counselor to turn to for career questions and no principal to answer to when there are discipline issues. The job of education becomes a lifestyle.
This scares most people — few people are cut out for either entrepreneurship or homeschooling — but the thing is that the vast majority who chose either do it with their entire lives and love it.
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