Every child is a natural-born entrepreneur. Perhaps it is the innocence of youth, the excitement of playing grown-up, or the challenge of trying something new, but children have a keen business mentality. Let me elaborate; how many lemonade stands have you passed in your lifetime? Perhaps you ran such a stand long ago on a warm summer’s afternoon? When you were young, did you travel the neighborhood asking to mow the grass next door for a few dollars?
Without any prodding on my part, my children are demonstrating this forward-thinking, self-sustaining attribute: one is imagining someday opening a clothing design shop while another wants to turn our living room into an art studio to sell his paintings. It is amazing to think that they have a concept and talent and wish to monetize it.
Now I ask myself, what can I do to foster their entrepreneurial desire and give them an education above and beyond their school curriculum? There are three key strategies I want my children to know as they progress through the initial steps of this rewarding and fulfilling enterprise.
Upon recognizing a child’s innate skills at creation, entrepreneurship, and even marketing, I want to be a guiding hand, gently leading the way. A proactive approach of guidance will serve them here and now as well as here after. Remembering back to my childhood, I do wish my parents had been more proactive in fostering basic business and money concepts. Perhaps they did and I wasn’t paying attention, however, I do not wish to sit back and assume my children will inherently know the ins-and-outs of running a small business (lemonade stand or home art studio).
I will let my children know they are the business owner after all. However, I would like to assist, this is their venture; I will make suggestions, but theirs is the ultimate decision. Along those lines, weekly meetings are important to give and receive feedback. How is the business going? What is the next phase envisioned? Though granted certain attributes, children often suffer from short-term memory or thought. This leads to the next point.
Most adults lack clear, focused vision as to where they are headed in life. This is doubly true with children and teens. It seems a cruel twist that adolescents think in terms of the immediate when the teen years are optimum for future preparation. As mentioned earlier, I want to encourage my children to think of the next step: how can we monetize this wonderful gift or creation of theirs? What should we do to fulfill the dream?
I want my children to know that the procedure is as important as the invention/service. To this end, a clear road map is needed. The old adage of beginning with the end in mind will serve our children well. Thinking beyond the moment, not focusing on the current minor setbacks, creating vision of the possibilities will lift the young entrepreneur past the unfocused meanderings of youth. Children naturally begin and end projects with great rapidity; I hope to encourage fortitude and commitment.
Lastly, I want my children to understand that their endeavor is a family enterprise. They can be the CEO, but we are in this together. Family comes first in our household and entrepreneurial undertaking is a joint venture. As I said, I will happily be a junior partner and a gentle guide. My children can dream, plan, experiment, and market as they see fit.
I do not wish to stifle the youthful creativity and optimism that so many adults lack. However, I will not be a silent partner. Of course, kids need to learn the trade but my job is a guiding partner. This is a win-win, family venture that we all partake in and enjoy.
Everyone is endowed with gifts and unique abilities. Children seem to have an excitement about sharing and shaping these capabilities. Coupled with a childlike interest in optimizing and monetizing these skills, these young entrepreneurs eagerly await their opportunity.
It is my role as parent that leads me to be proactive in their interests and education, help them form and maintain the vision they see, and create a win-win, family oriented environment. What I need to do most is educate myself and practice these principals in my daily concerns.