Thinking and acting like an entrepreneur will be a requisite for our kids throughout their careers. But how to do you make kids entrepreneurial when their schooling is designed to prepare them for a traditional desk job?
Good news, parents: it’s not impossible. It doesn’t have to be hard or time-consuming. It can even be fun.
We can copy those who’ve gone before us.
LIKE PARENT, LIKE CHILD
Elon Musk’s mum is an entrepreneur. Ralph Lauren, Donald Trump and a bunch of other famous business people have entrepreneurial offspring. Of my private kidpreneur members, around 75% have at least one parent with their own business.
Correlation may not prove causation, but I can’t help but think there’s a pattern here.
The parents of some of today’s successful kidpreneurs have agreed to shed light on why they think their kids have turned out to be business whizzes so we can follow their lead – whether we count ourselves as entrepreneurs or not.
LESSON #1: ROLE MODEL
If you’re a parent with your own business, or if a member of your family has their own business, great news: you’re already doing this one!
Melanie (Mel) Gray has been an entrepreneur since she was a teenager. Today she is known for her origami art through Twenty Two Folds. Her daughter Stella is 11 years old and into her second year of business with Little Bursts of Happiness, which sells affirmation cards and gratitude journals for kids. Stella recently featured in the Sunday Times.
Mel is not surprised her daughter has turned out to be entrepreneurial because of the people around her. In her words:
“Stella is surrounded by family that run their own businesses. Businesses from all walks of life. Her father runs a family company in sales and commerce. Her mother in the public art and retail space. I guess that has shown her the diversity of options as far as how she can create a career path and earn a living.”
…but what if you don’t consider yourself to be an entrepreneur?
More good news: you don’t need ‘founder’ on your CV to model entrepreneurial thinking for your kids.
Here’s what entrepreneurial thinking looks like:
- Spot a problem.
- Come up with a solution.
- Test whether that solution works.
- If it doesn’t work, back to Step 2.
- See if you can make it profitable and sustainable.
Steps 1 to 4 can apply to any problem in life, so every problem is an opportunity to demonstrate entrepreneurial thinking. Even pocket money can be used to the same effect and that will even get you to Step 5.
LESSON #2: TALK
Your kids hear you – whether they like it or not 😉
Add business to your dinner-table conversation:
- Talk about amazing entrepreneurs like Melanie Perkins, Richard Branson and Elon Musk.
- Discuss what’s happening to different businesses reported on the news.
- Share insights into how your workplace operates.
Ask your child’s opinion on any of the above and you’re on your way.
Jay Crisp Crow is a copywriting doyen who started her own business three years ago. Her (nearly) 15-year-old daughter Ella is in the process of launching How Dare She. Jay regularly shares the details of her business journey with her children:
“When Ella was 12 I started my own business. There was a lot of advice in the femmepreneur online societies about ‘trusting the universe’ and jumping straight in. I didn’t do that, and she watched me build a business from zero capital to the point I could cut down my hours at my regular job to 3 days a week, then 1, then 6 months ago I quit altogether. I now earn more than 5 times my old income, though she’s seen that doesn’t always mean more money in our bank. Business, taxes, investment, professional development, Profit First – these are all topics regularly discussed around our dinner table.”
You don’t need to give an exhaustive lecture on the intricacies of business every evening. Just a few choice comments here and there are enough to plant entrepreneurial seeds.
LESSON #3: PERFECTION NOT REQUIRED
You don’t have to be running a unicorn to start sharing your wisdom with your kids. Nor do you need to make out that business is all rainbows and unicorns (in the fairy-tale sense).
You don’t even have to be profitable yet.
Most businesses struggle in the early days, and some will not turn a profit for several years. Similarly, most people will experience challenges in their careers. Having something go wrong doesn’t make your experience any less worth sharing with your kids. In fact, it could be helpful for them if you can share lessons learned so they can avoid similar pitfalls.
Ezereve is a singer whose has raised over $40,000 for charity through her music. She thinks her entrepreneurial streak has rubbed off on her children. Her eldest, Ashleya, started Beauty from Ash’s Products when she was 10 years old and has featured on several news outlets. Ezereve highlights the importance of practice and that you don’t need to be perfect to teach, just further along the journey:
“Like everything, we get taught by someone who is further along than we are, and then we put what we learn in to practice. We get better [by] doing things over and over again, and I think that applies to being an entrepreneur. I also think some people may possibly be more naturally talented at it, but I still think anyone could learn to do it.”
There you have it – a few simple tips to help you spark some entrepreneurial spirit in your kids. I hope you find them useful.
Something else that can be helpful in this regard is learning what other kidpreneurs are doing and how they feel about being in business. I’ll be sharing some profiles and stories of successful kidpreneurs in my next article, so keep an eye out for it.
Lacey Filipich is a financial educator, chemical engineer, and non-executive director who started her entrepreneurial journey with a hair wrap business at 10 years old. She is the co-founder and director of two successful start-ups; Money School and Maker Kids Club.