Ideas and values when exposing young people to the culture of engaging in productive venturesA few days ago I was interviewed by a very good television show dedicated to and starred by young people [[Una tarde cualquiera (An afternoon like any other), Argentinian Public Television.]]. The interviewer pointed out that the purpose was to ‘promote the notion that it is possible to do interesting and profitable things betting on good ideas instead than on the same as always’. We agreed on starting our dialogue from the deconstruction of that expression and so we did.
We began by stating that in that context ‘things’ implied productive ventures and that by not suggesting any venture other those that are ‘interesting and profitable’, they sought to join the motivation from the young people willing to establish the productive venture with the economic viability of it. In addition, ‘not betting on the same as always’ pointed to the concepts of innovation and creativity. Thus emerges a very interesting set of ideas and values worth considering with an audience of youngsters. That dialogue would help mobilize the youngsters’ creative eagerness towards a space that is not much open to them; this way some would have a first exposure to the culture of engaging in productive ventures instead of just opting to seek job placement as employees, which by the way is equally respectable.
Then we reflect that there are many ways to promote the creative initiative of the young, whether it is inducing, inspiring, informing them about examples of productive ventures that adjust to the adopted criteria although, above all, attentively listening to the essence of what the young elaborate and propose in time. We say ‘the essence’ as not to fall into a premature dismissal of ideas in case the outlined initiatives fail to gather all the necessary requirements out-front in order to become sustainable productive ventures. This phase of promoting an entrepreneurial interest and creativity in young people is very valuable and worth considering with seriousness and respect.
Once having received several ideas for ventures where the young could participate in, it would be positive to focus on those that, at first sight, have the greatest potential, differentiating them from others that, considering factors we will soon look into, will encounter greater difficulty to overcome the phase of idea and lead to a new productive venture. This way it would be possible to go deeper with the chosen cases also reducing eventual frustrations caused by somewhat unviable proposals within the concrete circumstances we are operating in. But listen up, it is also true that there will be ideas that in their original state are not viable but can be adjusted or modified for them to acquire viability.
In short, by talking to young people it is possible to identify ‘interesting things’ we must then evaluate to see if they constitute ‘good ideas’ and whether or not they can be taken to the level of establishing sustainable productive ventures.
1. Good ideas
Here lies a good first field of debate: what we understand by good ideas. Are we looking at good ideas that contribute to the common wellbeing and at the same time are capable of generating incomes for the youngsters or, perhaps, we have good ideas to establish a profitable business regardless of what and how to produce? Beware because in this second option a lot can sneak in: some things are obviously not fooling anybody such as the case of drug dealing activities and other criminal actions. But beyond what is criminal, there is also the possibility of disguising as ‘good ideas’ the act of producing something that does not respect important issues such as the environment, labor or tax legislation, permits to operate, hygiene and health standards necessary in every productive process, responsible consumption, etc.
So a first level of dialogue could be focused on extensively analyzing what we wish to produce and how it is proposed to be produced.
Whether a productive venture will be profitable or not depends on a series of factors among others (i) if there is enough and constant demand on this product (good or service), (ii) that the competitors there might be do not absorb all that demand without leaving room for new actors, and (iii) the way we organize to produce and sell.
If the demand is not enough and sustained (barely occasional) and if there were strong competitors narrowing the entrance, the venture could end up not being viable. However, even in case there was such demand and that it was possible to coexist with the current competitors a deficient organization to produce and sell would anyhow affect the venture’s profitability.
When we talk about how the productive venture is organized we are referring to several dimensions, among others two are of the upmost importance:
(a) How the new venture is structured. Are we going for a small traditional venture based on one or several individuals, in this case youngsters or, alternatively, we will consider something more innovative as establishing an inclusive venture taking advantage of modern business engineering such as, for example, franchise systems, trading consortia, locomotive agro industries, that enable articulating several young small producers with a strategic partner in medium scale ventures.
(b) How to ensure good quality management. In close relation to the previous point, it is mainly about determining whether young people intend to conduct the management by themselves, which is something a little risky given their inexperience or, what would be more advisable, if they decided to join a strategic partner with management experience. In this case and besides choosing the strategic partner wisely, it will be necessary to establish a mechanism to secure a fair distribution of results; for example, summoning a Board of people willing to back the youngsters effort contributing with contacts and access to markets and funding while, at the same time, safeguard the venture’s sustainable course.
These and other aspects are open for debate and analysis and should at least be sketched out in order to stimulate young people’s interest without sliding them into some easiness and false expectations that do not match with what they will have to face in reality.
To the farewell hug I added a warm congratulation to those who make Una tarde cualquiera (An afternoon like any other) for offering a space to young voices that have much and good to say. ‘Voices, not echoes’ is how Opinion Sur Youth defines this type of initiative http://opinionsur.org.ar/joven/