Entrepreneurs. Some people feel the skills needed can be learned while others feel the spirit of an entrepreneurs is already inside a person from a young age. For example, I published my first article at the age of 12 and started my first business while in my late teens. Other kids are similar. For instance, my friends’ children and my own stepson came up with this business idea: they bought gumballs and snacks in bulk and resold the items to their classmates for profit. For some of these entrepreneurial kids, it’s about the money. For one in particular, named Max, it was more like a game. Max had his mom’s fiancé buy sodas and juices, chips, gum, candy bars, etc. at Costco, and then he resold them to his classmates throughout the school day. He started small first, selling only a couple of items to a handful of kids. But then he challenged himself to see if he could sell more items than the day before, expanding the inventory in his locker that was turning into a small store, until he was making over $1000/month for drinks, snacks, pens and pencil sales. That’s when the school administration stepped in and shut him down.
But drive and the love of a challenge led Max to seek other creative ways to make money and craft businesses. (And today, 10 years later, he’s a very successful, self-employed commercial real estate salesperson in California.)
Entrepreneurial endeavors take drive, creativity, the ability to hold a big vision while paying attention to the details, having a sense of peace or calm through change and uncertainty and a belief in one’s self. And all of these skills/abilities are transferrable not just to self-employment, but to any kind of employment and many other parts of life.
Entrepreneurial Skills Kids Need:
Inc. magazine in an article titled “10 Steps to Teaching Your Kids to Become Entrepreneurs” lists:
- Goal setting
- Learning how to recognize opportunities
- Financial literacy
- Inspiring creativity to build marketing skills
- Learning to fail (so one can learn to create new ways to accomplish goals)
- Learning effective communication
- Learning independence to increase confidence
- Providing opportunities for your child to lead
- Teaching them to sell
- Teaching them to give back (or to support a greater cause)
Entrepreneur magazine contributor and editor Kim Lachance Shandrow writes, “The entrepreneurial mindset treats life’s hurdles as challenges to overcome, and fostering these skills early on will pay dividends in years to come.”
Yet so often parents give their kids rules to live by (sit up straight, chew with mouth closed, clean up their rooms or toys, etc.) or ground their children for bad grades or for breaking something, instead of letting kids fail, discussing what happened and why and how to not repeat the mistake the next time. Hope Jahren, author of Lab Girl, and an entrepreneurial professor of science at the University of Oslo, said in her father’s lab, where she grew up, she was never criticized for breaking anything but was encouraged to find solutions for fixing what she broke. And that’s one of the most useful skills she has learned in her life. Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin (records, airlines, mobile devices, etc.), said, “You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and falling over.”
But your kids still need a guiding nudge from you or coaching and to learn responsibility. After all, the job market (and most relationships) calls for effective communication, confidence, understanding opportunities, and at least basic financial literacy.
If you are not confident in your own entrepreneurial abilities, you could enroll your in entrepreneur clubs or school. TeachingKidsBusiness.com has created an entrepreneurship program and a Jobs For Kids Program to help kids get experience.
There’s also an excellent and humorous Cameron Herold TedTalk on the subject of raising kids to be entrepreneurs at that says that many kids with entrepreneurial spirits may be bored at traditional schools, failing their classes and at odds with their peers (Max certainly was all of those things.) but they may be very personable and great at speaking. Cameron Herold, too, was all of these things and started his first business at age seven, when he had an idea to collect old wire coat hangers and sell them to dry cleaners.
He understood this: “The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer not a dreamer,” said Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese’s.