How to raise kids to be entrepreneurs
The world as we know it today has changed dramatically since growing up as a child born in the 1980s. Our society is more connected, contentious, and confusing than ever before.
For those born in past generations, the path to an upright and comfortable life seemed quite straightforward. They worked hard in school, went to university, and got a good job at a company that took care of them for the long-haul.
We all know however, this is no longer the case today.
As a parent, you cannot raise a child in today’s world the way kids were being raised in the past generations and expect that child to thrive in our fast paced world today.
In order to be successful in today’s competitive and often chaotic environment, your child has to have a grit, intelligence, and a strong entrepreneurial spirit.
They have to be raised as entrepreneurs.
To be clear, raising entrepreneurial kids doesn’t mean trying to grow your own Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg (even though that won’t be a bad idea). Instead it’s about deliberately fostering an entrepreneurial mind-set in them, one that your kids can apply to whatever it is they end up doing when they grow up.
The entrepreneurial mind-set is an attitude, along with a set of skills and behaviours that young people need to succeed academically, personally, and professionally. These include initiative and self-direction, risk-taking, flexibility, adaptability, creativity, innovation, critical thinking, and problem solving.
Cultivating these values in children from an early age will give them a strong advantage in years to come wherever the find themselves. Remember, entrepreneurship is an attitude, not an occupation.
If you are a parent and all you are familiar with is the corporate life of getting a good stable job and you don’t know the first thing about entrepreneurship but would like to raise your child as an entrepreneur,
Here are sure-fire ways you can encourage your children to embrace an entrepreneurial mind-set.
1. INTRODUCE THEM TO SOMEONE WHO HAS STARTED SOMETHING:
As a parent who is not an entrepreneur, the first thing to do in helping your child develop an entrepreneurial mind-set is to introduce them to a friend or family member who started their own business. It is helpful for children to be acquainted with someone who’s done it, because then they know it’s possible and it’s not a distant reality.
Introducing your children to others who have their own businesses helps set an option for them as they would start to imagine to themselves ‘I could do that, since my uncle/aunt has done that’. This sets a good example of entrepreneurship for your child even though you as their parent are not an entrepreneur.
2. INTRODUCE ENTREPRENEURSHIP USING THE EVERYDAY ITEMS AND SERVICES THEY SEE
If you think about it, every single moment of your day is a learning and a teaching opportunity. When you go to the grocery store, bring cash and ask your child to count out the cash and collect the change.
When you fold laundry, explain to them that someone had to invent the washing machine and then form a business to sell those washing machines to consumers. Everything in your home, from your mattress to the food in your refrigerator came from a business.
If your children start to understand the world as a series of businesses then they can brainstorm and think about a way to contribute or add to that themselves.
3. LET THEM MAKE DECISIONS.
Kids don’t get to make a lot of choices. In fact, they spend a lot of time doing what they’re told to do. If you want to raise kids who can solve problems and generate and execute great ideas, you have to let them make decisions.
Kids don’t always make the right choices or the best choices, but they learn from the mistakes they make along the way. Give them a chance to make those mistakes by stepping back and allowing for independent thought. This will increase their self-confidence, and self-confident kids are kids who take healthy risks and test new ideas.
If they’re toddlers, you can give them more control such as choosing what they’re going to wear or which vegetable they want with dinner. Exposing them to what it feels like to make decisions is vital in helping kids feel more empowered. But be careful not to overwhelm them with a myriad of choices. Keep it simple and age-appropriate. As they get older, you’ll have lots of opportunities to trust them to make bigger decisions.
4. TEACH THEM EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION SKILLS:
Successful entrepreneurship requires a litany of skills, but one of the most important is the ability to communicate effectively. If you’re going to have a business, you’re going to have to talk to a lot of people. You’re going to have to promote your company, you’re going to have to talk about your product, you’re going to have to call your staff together and have meetings sometimes.
A common roadblock to easeful communication is a basic fear of public speaking – or straight-up shyness. You can create opportunities to overcome those fears in your kids by having plays or presentations or talking about a book or TV show.
It’s important that kids learn how to communicate to others in a way where they’re in charge, and also learn to listen to others and allow other people to be in charge. That’s really important.
5. TEACH THEM CONSTRUCTIVE WAYS TO CHALLENGE STATUS QUO:
Kids are often taught to follow the rules blindly. This is actually a trait that inhibits entrepreneurship. I’m not saying they should constantly buck the system, but you can teach ways to challenge the norms constructively by voicing their rationale. Ask, what do they think needs to change, and why? What do they propose instead?
Teach them to advocate for themselves in an acceptable and diplomatic way. By doing this, you are setting your child apart from those who blindly follow the crowd, never really having a mind of their own.
6. ENCOURAGE THEIR CREATIVE IDEAS:
Kids have the wackiest and craziest ideas. Don’t squash them! There are many examples of young children running successful businesses or learning business skills at a young age. Adults always seem to lose the excitement, fun, and imagination that kids have, so while your kids are young, harness it. Help them see that every idea they have is an opportunity to turn it into something greater.
7. HELP THEM LEARN FROM THEIR FAILURE:
Picking yourself back up after you fall is a lesson every entrepreneur has to know and deal with daily. Make sure your kids know that mistakes are okay, whether they lose a big game or their first business idea didn’t work out as planned. As long as your kids know that one setback doesn’t mean they should quit entirely, they’ll be well on their way to being ready to be entrepreneurs.
8. MODEL EFFECTIVE PROBLEM SOLVING:
When problems come up in your child’s life, brainstorm solutions together. Help them identify the problem, think of all the possible solutions, weigh the pros and cons, and choose the best option.
The more parents can break down what’s needed within that problem solving task, really verbalize it, and talk it out with the child, the better off the child will be.
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