“If more kids were encouraged to be entrepreneurs, we would have a lot more problems solved.” Shaan Patel, “Kid Start-Up: How You Can Be an Entrepreneur”
In honour of Youth Month in June we’re looking at ways for parents, aunties, uncles, siblings, God mothers/ father, librarians, mentors, teachers – anyone who has sway with a young person – to bring young ones up with the spirit of a problem solver and ultimately an entrepreneur.
When we encourage our children to be creative, and create their own opportunities – we create a group of future leaders and innovators who will not wait to be given jobs but will find ways to create their own paths.
After the millennial generation follow Gen Z, born from 1995 to 2014 and then Gen Alpha, born from 2010 – so Gen Alphas are already nine years old today. Whether you are dealing with an 18 year old or a 3 year old, it is never to early (or too late for that matter) to “grow” the next generation of entrepreneurs.
“Entrepreneurship is a journey of mastery. One never arrives at being an all knowing entrepreneur. It is a continuous process of living and learning.” Ariana Friedlander
One: Create a Reading Culture
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Dr. Seuss
“Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.” Jim Rohn
There are now 2.5 million Gen Alphas born weekly around the world. They arrive in a world of smart phones and YouTube (a 100 hours of YouTube videos are uploaded per minute). These are children more influenced visually than through verbal listening skills or the written word. This makes it all the more critical for a reading culture to be created for a child – rather than just being connected to a screen.
As children get older and have been inspired to read for themselves, educational studies suggest that it’s “reflecting on a learning experience afterward” which encourages growth and independent thought. By encouraging children to read independently we’re giving them the ability to be autonomous and make decisions about what they choose to be interested in. Plus, the decision-making practice of reading “results in synaptic changes and strengthening of neuronal pathways in your child” says neuroscientist and author, Erin Clabough.
For additional info for the adult entrepreneur see: Every Great Entrepreneur Reads.
Two: Ask Questions and Encourage Problem Solving
“Routinely ask your kids for help. Make sure the children understand that you respect their capacity to solve problems.” All Pro Dad.com
Once you’ve developed a reader, what follows are the questions – from both you and your child. As Ian McCue, young Co-Author of “Kid Start-Up: How You Can Be an Entrepreneur” says, “Children who ask a lot of questions, look for creative ways to complete tasks, or enjoy selling or making things have the mindset of an entrepreneur. These traits can be taught by asking: What is a common problem that we face, how can we solve it, and to whom can we sell our solution?”
If there’s an interest or aptitude shown by a young person, ask them about things around that interest which are problematic or could be done better. Discussions about real life problem solving can give confidence to take ideas to the next level, small business plans or simple ideas of how to make products or systems better.
Additional reading: Ten Ways to Teach Your Children to be Problem Solvers
Three: Money Awareness and Management
“A study by the University of Cambridge found that money habits in children are formed by the time they’re seven years old.” Dave Ramsey
If your child has no concept of money and how it is managed they won’t have the grounding to conceptualize a small business – even if that business is selling homemade lemonade. We often shy away from talking about money issues and the price of things because of our own money concerns as adults. But financial management (on a small scale) can be fun for kids who have a set amount of pocket money but a big imagination.
Financial Planner Byron R. Moore suggests: With young children start small – teach them money is limited, to be handled wisely and that work has financial value. As they get older – let them work more, pay for more and choose more.
Additional reading: 15 Ways to Teach Kids About Money
Four: Ideas into Action
“Finding something they want to learn about and helping them find things to read about sets a natural path to turning that knowledge into a business.” Mark Cuban, billionaire investor and “Shark Tank” personality
Mark Cuban believes, “Parents can support their children’s business plans in a couple of ways, the first being coming up with an action plan that the parent and child can both fill out… The action plan lays out the details such as how many hours per week will you need to work, what materials you will need, and how you will sell your product or service. This will help the parent gauge whether or not the business idea is semi-feasible.”
Putting real goals into action with your child and being open to their creativity helps teach them responsibility, good business judgment as well as failure – very important skills for any small business start up.
Additional reading: Young People Need to Know Entrepreneurship is Hard
Five: Embrace the Young Rebel
“Some rather intelligent children who defy authority or challenge the status quo tend to think more outside the box, lending them a certain creative upper hand when it comes to new ideas and starting businesses. Entrepreneurs tend not to play by the rules.” Lauren Knight
Yes – this is surprising but perhaps it shouldn’t be when we look at the most successful entrepreneurial outliers of today. In fact, a study published in the journal Development Psychology found that disobedient children,“Earn more as adults and are also more likely to be entrepreneurs,” and that successful adults often had the characteristics of “rule-breaking and defiance of parental authority.”
We’re not suggesting bringing up out of control children, but rather trying to channel rebellious energy into creative projects for youth. As Richard Branson says, “Forget the rules and learn from first-hand experience instead.”
Additional reading: Kid Entrepreneurs Who Built Successful Businesses and 8 of the Best Books for Kid and Teen Entrepreneurs.