The 21st century belongs to the entrepreneur. Thanks to the internet, it’s never been easier to access information on starting a business or to sell your product. The millennial generation, more than anything values their freedom, which makes entrepreneurship an ideal career choice for them. But can you groom your child to be an entrepreneur in the future?
Are Entrepreneurs Born or Made?
It’s a common fallacy that entrepreneurs are born.Take a look at the investors on the hit reality show Shark Tank (where small business owners pitch their ideas to a panel of investors); more than half of the super-rich investors on the show are from poor backgrounds with parents who held blue-collar jobs. These individuals are serial entrepreneurs and have created several businesses worth millions and billions of dollars.
Why does the United States lead in entrepreneurship? The answer lies not in the genetic make-up, but in their culture which promotes entrepreneurship consciously among kids. For instance, putting up a lemonade stand outside their home is a 130-year-old tradition, which even today, inculcates entrepreneurial spirit in children at an early age. The Girl Scout Cookie program, which dates back to 1917 is another, widely popular entrepreneurial initiative in the US that encourages young girls to think creatively to sell cookies for a social cause. These small-scale sale projects help young minds learn about goal setting, strategic thinking, selling, cash management, and above all, people skills.
The above examples lead us to believe that entrepreneurship is not genetic. While some entrepreneurs are born with a golden spoon, others are made! While there are some who are more independent and seem more naturally inclined to look for solutions to problems that may not be apparent to others, there are those who can be groomed as creators of businesses.
Teaching Kids Important Entrepreneurship Skills
One crucial differentiator that has helped many aspiring entrepreneurs is the presence of a mentor in their life. And that’s the role that you can play as a parent to your child by equipping them with the life-skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur in the future.
Whether you are parent planning to pass on the family business to your child, or someone hoping that their children can create their own business one day, teaching them these following life-skills will increase their chances of finding entrepreneurial success.
- Goal setting and planning
Entrepreneurial success hinges in large part on goal setting and effective planning. Studies show that written goals are almost 80 percent more likely to be achieved. Encourage your child to write their goals in specific and measurable terms, and then write down actions necessary to achieve these aims. For starters, help your kid pick a small goal, such as saving enough money to buy their favorite toy. Ask them to list the steps they need to take to save the required amount of money.
Kids (and adults) have become slaves of Google; every answer now comes so quickly that the inquisitiveness and urge to think over things has gone. To inculcate a love for problem-solving and tackling challenges, encourage your child to play a lot of strategic games and puzzles. Age appropriate jigsaw puzzles, logic puzzles, and Lego blocks make a great choice. Websites such as activity village, the jigsaw puzzles, and primary games offer free puzzles and online activities for kids.
- Financial literacy
Teach your children about money from a young age to give them a firm grounding in finance. Encourage them to maintain a journal of the pocket money they receive, how they spend it, and how much they save. Explain to them how savings are the ‘seeds’ that can help them grow the ‘tree’ of future money.
- Financial independence
One way of setting your child on the path of entrepreneurship is to encourage them to earn their money. Richard Branson bred parakeets and sold them as pets when he was eleven years old; Warren Buffett sold packs of gum at a tender age of six, and Mark Cuban learnt nuances of business selling trash bags when he was just twelve.
There are several things which children can do without putting themselves at risk, such as tutoring local children, offering dance classes, and convincing neighbours to hire them for simple tasks like walking the dog or watering the garden. Starting a mini-venture will help them become multi-taskers and encourage them to think on their feet as they manage their business.
One of the most important skills entrepreneurs possess is the art of influencing others and working as a team to get the jobs done. Teach your kids the value of teamwork, and how they may affect others to achieve their goals. Encourage them to play team games that involve a lot of strategic thinking such as football or hockey.
- Communication skills
Each child should learn how to communicate effectively. Teach your children to speak their mind and articulate their ideas clearly. Tell them to be respectful of people who hold a different view than theirs. These skills will not only help them in their careers as entrepreneurs but also in all other aspects of life.
- Dealing with failure
We grow up feeling embarrassed of failure, which is a wrong notion. Coping with rejection and overcoming failures is the single most important survival skill for an entrepreneur. Instead of scolding and punishing children when they fail, encourage them to think about the positive things they learnt from the failure. Lead them by example. So, when you tell them to work hard and learn from their failures, show them that you too are learning from your failures.
While your kids may not necessarily need an MBA to be successful entrepreneurs, they surely need your support and encouragement to learn skills that will help them succeed as future business owners. Guide your children gently in the right direction and let them choose a career that’s best for them.