How to Help Your Children Develop Entrepreneurial Skills
Entrepreneurs are born or bred. It was probably more nature than nurture for me. I wasn’t raised in an entrepreneurial environment. My grandfather was a custodian, and my mother was a housekeeper. I suppose that could be considered her own business. But I didn’t see my parents doing typical startup activities like discussing finances at the dinner table, reading income statements, or managing employees.
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Entrepreneurs see problems and try to solve them.
Entrepreneurs, by nature, are problem solvers. They walk around seeing problems in the world and thinking to themselves, “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?”
As a child, for example, I was at baseball practice. Following that, I noticed a long line at the snack hut. The majority of the other children were eating and conversing with their peers. But in the back of my mind, I was wondering how I could create a better system. The pizza was mediocre at best, but the location was ideal. They had kids spending $6 on a slice of pizza every two minutes. In my head, I did the math. That was one of my “aha” moments when I realised I wanted to start my own business.
I went to Costco with my grandparents another time. I saw Juicy Fruit gum packages with 25 cents printed on each individual package. However, if you purchased them in bulk, you could get them for 12 cents per package. It was a no-brainer for me. I didn’t even need to mark up the 25 cents to make nearly a 50% profit. That’s just how my mind works.
Your surroundings can influence a naturally entrepreneurial mindset.
My path to entrepreneurship also included some nurturing. My surroundings influenced my natural instinct. We didn’t have much extra cash. I’d have to wait until Christmas to get big gifts like a bicycle. If I wanted that bike sooner, I knew I had to work for it.
So it was a combination of need and mindset for me. That was the starting point for my entrepreneurial journey.
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Future entrepreneurs can be nurtured by entrepreneurial families.
Then there are those who are born into a family of entrepreneurs. They witness their parents’ long hours of hard work. From a young age, they may be involved in the family business. They are taught to be self-sufficient. They witness the financial ups and downs that can occur early in the business. This can have a positive or negative impact on their decision to start their own business. In the end, I believe you still need an entrepreneurial mindset to capitalise on the lessons you’ve learned from your entrepreneurial parents.
Troy Hoffman, a colleague and fellow entrepreneur, had a more cultivated entrepreneurial experience. He remembers a teacher who kept stacks of Entrepreneur magazines in the back of the classroom. The teacher was ecstatic about starting a business. Hoffman was also motivated by his parents and a family friend who ran a successful surf shop. Seeing them build successful businesses inspired him to launch his own.
Even if you are not an entrepreneur yourself, you can help your children develop an entrepreneurial spirit.
Consider thinking outside the box.
Reward innovative thinking. In general, our educational system teaches us to do things the way they have always been done. Encourage your children to come up with original solutions to real-world problems. If there isn’t a clear solution, assist them in developing one.
Failure is a learning experience—there is no risk and no reward.
We have a no-blame culture in my company. This, I believe, enables people to work creatively without fear of making mistakes. Entrepreneurs understand that making mistakes is a necessary part of the learning process. Make sure your children understand that making mistakes is necessary for learning and growing. Certain risks must be taken by entrepreneurs. Calculating the risk-reward of your actions is a skill that will come in handy even if you never become an entrepreneur.
Test your elevator pitch.
If your children ask for something, tell them you’ll think about it if they come up with a good pitch and a solid business plan. even if it’s just a puppy request. Allow them to go through the process of analysing their options, calculating the cost, and deciding on the best way to obtain financing. Entrepreneurs solve complex problems and persuade others to believe in their vision.
Is your child born with an entrepreneurial spirit? If so, allow them to explore that side of themselves. It’s the classic lemonade stand scenario.
If not, try some of the tools I’ve listed to get them started on the path to entrepreneurship. Even if they do not go on to found unicorn startups, their learning skills will help them succeed in their future endeavours.
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