7 Ways to Teach Your Kids to Become Entrepreneurs
Maybe it started when they were six or seven and wanted to set up their own lemonade stand. By the time they hit nine or ten, they were selling pencils, erasers, candy, and gum to their classmates during recess. By twelve or thirteen, they were mowing the neighbors’ lawn or shoveling sidewalks for money; money that they then invested in their next big scheme.
If your kid has ever exhibited these moments of child entrepreneurship, how did you react? Did you respond with a congratulatory hug? An “I’m proud of you,” and a pat on the back? Did you call them little businessmen? Jokingly tell them to consider taking a business course in college?
Or did you see the passion in your child and realize that it was something undeniable and worth nurturing?
Whatever the reason may be, these children exist; the ones with a natural entrepreneurial drive that pushes them to recognize problems, parse out viable solutions, and build opportunities to make those solutions happen.
These are precious traits that we, as their parents, must encourage.
Are Entrepreneurs Dying Out?
There’s been a steep decline in real entrepreneurs over the last decade or so. Lots of internet startups and small businesses popping up online, but nothing the likes of Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg. If a kid has the potential to be the next world-changing entrepreneur, it’s our job as parents to help them foster it.
By encouraging child entrepreneurship at an early age, we essentially assure the future generation of businessmen and pioneers that it’s okay to capitalize on their creativity rather than deny it.
What about the children that don’t seem to be entrepreneurial inclined? There’s no reason you can’t teach them entrepreneurial skills, either! Entrepreneurial skills can benefit your kids no matter where their passion takes them. It’ll also prove to be highly advantageous if they take these skills with them on their respective career paths.
With that said, here are 7 ways to do it:
1. Teach Them How to Recognize Opportunities
Entrepreneurship has always been about identifying and solving pain points. Entrepreneurs know how to recognize a problem and set about finding a solution. In cases where the problem is present but unacknowledged by society, entrepreneurs find ways to illustrate the concern—and the solution. In cases where the problem is known and the solution already exists, entrepreneurs find ways to make the solution better.
Whatever the case may be, it’s this recognition of opportunity that leads to entrepreneurs creating (or instigating the creation of) a product or service that people soon become dependent on.
What do a mouse trap and a car have in common? They’re both answers to a problem that society was facing. And now? They’re both inventions that society cannot do without.
As a parent, you may find that there are many opportunities for encouraging problem recognition and solution-oriented creativity.
If your child expresses distaste or dissatisfaction for something, encourage them to think of ways to make it better. For instance; eating vegetables. If they hate the taste so much, but they know they can’t leave the dinner table until they finish it (and they also know yelling won’t get them anywhere), what can they do to make vegetables more palatable?
Start simple. If they come up with ideas that already exist, congratulate them nonetheless. Teaching your children to seek out opportunities and take action on them will contribute greatly to the probability of their future success.
2. Let Them Solve Problems
We, as parents, are often guilty of unknowingly holding our kids back. Of course we want them to reach their full potential, and of course we want them to advance and mature. But how can they even start to grow when we’re constantly making the big decisions for them?
In today’s age of helicopter parenting, many parents don’t allow their children to think for themselves. They instead insist on taking the reins and making the calls, rushing to fix whatever difficulties they can and shielding their kids from whatever they can’t.
As parents, it’s our duty to protect our children—not suffocate them. Eventually, we have to let them call the shots. We have to let them face adversity head on and decide, for themselves, what they want to do about it.
Children who aren’t used to deciding for themselves will feel lost at the first sign of adversity, and this can be detrimental to their development. They may bring this same crippling indecision as adults, making it harder for them to face average challenges.
Child entrepreneurship requires problem solvers and self-starters, and these skills must be learned through experience. Allowing your children the space to encounter problems, gather information, and then make an informed decision—both in individual and group settings—is essential. Showing them the scientific approach of trial and error can help build curiosity, creativity and confidence in kids as they learn to enjoy the process of exploration.
3. Inspire Resilience
In life, we are always going to meet unstoppable forces and immovable objects—hurricanes and storms that can knock us right off our feet. As parents, we have to accept that kids are, eventually, going to fall. They’re going to fail. They’re going to experience disappointment, frustration, and failure.
Teach them, as early as possible, that it does not matter how many times they fall. What matters is that they get right back up and say, “is that all you got?”
Every successful entrepreneur has gotten knocked down at least a dozen times in their life. And they turned those dozen losses into victories by getting back up and trying again. Inspire courage and strength in your child while they’re still young, and they will grow to be true success stories. They will succeed at everything they try to do because they will choose to never give up.
Because for both adults and children, entrepreneurship entails resilience.
Say your kid is having trouble understanding a certain subject. Common problem programs include Math and Science, but you can have more uncommon cases (like History, English, and Computer Science—especially coding for kids). Instead of punishing them for it—which can damage their confidence and ultimately discourage them—encourage them to look for a solution.
Yes, this is where the two earlier skills come into play.
Ask them why they find it difficult. Work with them to find the root of the problem. If they recently failed a test or received a failing grade on their report card, work together to find out why that happened, and then see what can be done to prevent it from happening again.
As the parent, look for the teachable moments embedded in each “failure”—and teach your kids the value of never giving up.
Remember those situations we mentioned earlier? The lemonade stand, the lawn mowing, the school supply service? Those are examples of children entrepreneurship that need to be encouraged.
It doesn’t matter if it’s been done a million times before. It doesn’t matter if their ventures don’t earn as much as other ventures. It doesn’t matter how simple, how modest, how easy it seems; these early enterprises are all the encouragement your kids need to learn the value of hard work.
These simple businesses will teach your kids valuable skills that they can bring and apply anywhere:
- How to sell themselves
- How to handle rejection
- How to overcome concerns/anxiety
It will also teach them the true worth of earning money through hard work. This will, in turn, make them value their financial resources even more.
Once your child has experienced the creativity, freedom, and (hopefully) financial reward of building their first entrepreneurial venture, they may well be hooked. The best thing you can do to nurture this fiery entrepreneurial spirit is to support them in all their ventures. They want to sell cookies? Buy them ingredients or bake the cookies together. They want to set up a babysitting agency with their friends? Spread the word. They want to create an app and sell it? Invest in materials that can teach kids to code.
Whatever business idea they cook up, no matter how big or how small, be their first sponsor. Their first investor. Their first customer.
If they run out of ideas, give them a couple suggestions (there are a ton of child entrepreneurship and simple business ideas online). What matters is that they know these little businesses that they put up mean something, regardless of size or scale.
5. Teach Financial Literacy
Teaching kids about money when they are young will provide them with a solid financial foundation that is often overlooked in school. Currently only a few states require high school students to actually take a personal finance class before they can graduate. And, apparently, one in every five teenagers (aged 15) lacked basic financial literacy knowledge.
Your kids are never too young to learn financial literacy. In the case of children, entrepreneurship is an excellent means to introduce it. Children need to learn how to save their money and invest it in things that matter. They also need to know that they can’t just expect money; they have to earn it.
And when they receive money as gifts (especially from grandparents, and especially around the holidays), teach them that those dollars don’t need to be spent; they can be saved. Illustrate how it’s much better to set aside that $20 from grandma rather than blow it on chips or candy.
Once your kids are old enough, help them set up their own bank account. Show them how they can track their checking and savings accounts. Teach them how interest works. Aside from making them feel like real adults (which a lot of kids love), it will also help improve their sense of accountability for their personal finances.
A good way to teach your kids financial literacy is to show them that everything costs money. Printed words on a page are all well and good, but most kids retain more from what they see and experience.
Why not try a sort of “split the cost” deal with them every time they want something impractical, expensive, or on impulse? Say you’re at the mall and your child sees a new video game priced at $25.00. Instead of giving in and buying it, offer to pay half.
“This game costs $25,” you could say, “and that’s not cheap. But tell you what; I’ll pay half. If you really want the game, try to raise the other $12.50.”
This is a good way to challenge them and teach them financial literacy. It’ll also help them learn how to carefully assess each purchase. If taken with the previous point—which is where they understand the process of earning money—they’ll be less inclined to spend their hard-earned money on just random impulse buys.
There are other great ways to teach kids financial literacy, like using clear jars (helps them visualize the pile growing) for coins or giving “commissions” rather than allowance. You can find a ton of great ideas online.
6. Teach Goal Setting
Goal Setting is another great entrepreneurial skill that a lot of successful business people like Richard Branson, Warren Buffett, and Elon Musk employ. They are practically obsessed with writing their goals down and tracking them as closely as possible. Digital notes, traditional pen-and-paper, voice memos … whatever method they choose, smart business people insist on setting SMART goals.
And yes; SMART is capitalized for a reason:
S – specific
M – measurable
A – achievable
R – realistic
T – timely or time-based
Studies show that people are 42% more likely to achieve goals that have been written down. And if these goals follow the SMART criteria, the likelihood drastically improves as well.
As a child, entrepreneurship might come off as a big, intimidating concept that they’re not ready for. But goal-setting is something simple, straightforward, and easy to understand. It’s something anyone can learn to do from an early age.
Get your kids into the habit of using a daily or weekly checklist. Show them how rewarding it can be to cross stuff off of a to-do list.
You can start by putting up a chalkboard or whiteboard on the fridge for each child and helping them fill it up every day. The “to-do” items can be simple: submit Math homework. Have an apple at lunch. Finish English essay. The point is to form the habit of writing goals down with the intent of doing them so that they can be crossed off.
And even though completed goals are their own reward, you can come up with a point system to further encourage your children to stick to the habit. Each fully completed to-do list is one point. Each kid can save their points and later trade them in for something fun or beneficial. For example, five points gets them out of washing dishes for one night, or ten points gets them an extra dessert.
Teach your kids early on that goal setting can be fun and rewarding. Best of all, it can lead to a deep, personal sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.
7. Teach Technology Skills
What do Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates have in common?
They all learned how to code in middle school.
Coding for kids involves a myriad of skills that are undoubtedly useful and, once fully developed, will only prove beneficial to them in the long run. It fosters skills in math, logic, and creativity. It teaches them problem solving and situational analysis. It involves in-depth computation and reasoning—two things that can impact nearly every profession one can choose to get in to, from marketing to medicine, from law to physical labor.
Even children drawn to liberal arts and humanities can benefit from having logic and creativity skills developed through coding.
There are no shortcuts to learning how to code. Certainly, there are guides and platforms that can make it easier to teach coding for kids., but it still presents a challenge in some regards. You need discipline if you want to learn how to code the right way.
Another example? Determination. Coding for kids can be both rewarding and discouraging, especially when there’s a particularly unforgiving problem that they just can’t solve. Coding inspires the kind of determination kids need to foster if they want to rise above the roadblocks and challenges life is going to throw at them later on.
You can inspire entrepreneurial skills in your children by encouraging them to code. Coding for kids is not as unheard of or as difficult as you may think. In fact, there are plenty of online education programs for kids dedicated to helping children master the art of programming. They all offer different levels of learning and different learning environments at different price points, so. Needless to say, you have a lot of options. You can choose the best option for your kids based on reviews, customization, recommendations, prices, etc.
Coding for kids can hone the entrepreneurial mindset in them, opening up avenues and opportunities for them to further develop their other entrepreneurial skills.
I will write future posts on some of these skills as we begin a deeper dive into digital entrepreneurship for kids.
Regardless of whether your child chooses the path of entrepreneurship, the skills described above will help your child succeed in any profession and in any organizational type.
Can you think of any other skills that you think can help kids develop into future entrepreneurs?
Please leave comments below!