We need more resilient people.
We need more risk takers.
We need more innovators and doers, thinkers and tinkerers.
We need more entrepreneurs!
Small business generates almost half the jobs available in the U.S. public sector. Of those companies, they are arguably 16 times more innovative than their larger counterparts producing 16 percent more patents than the big guys. With such great opportunity to be creative and inventive, means entrepreneurs and small businesses are creating real solutions to solve real problems.
And while I never advocate forcing a child into a career that doesn’t suit them (ok, so maybe your son doesn’t want to own their own business), the skills required to be the best (fill in the blank career) they can be requires a certain level of entrepreneurial skills that just aren’t being taught in schools today. I am talking about:
- Critical thinking/problem solving
- How to sell
- Failure as a silver lining
All of which can easily be woven into your daily family conversations and activities. From dinner time chats to Sunday afternoon games, the entrepreneurial philosophies can be easily adapted. At home here, we often use playtime role-playing to teach about transactions (money), roles (positions) and responsibilities. Sometimes we set up fake stores and even get out our piggy banks to play with real money. We view our family time through the lens of education, adventure and opportunity...and of course, teaching entrepreneurship.
1) Prepares Them for the Future Job Market
According to a US Labor Department report, 65% of today’s school children will eventually be employed by jobs that have yet to be invented. “This not only has significant implications on how these children have to be educated and trained. It also implies that the current workforce may have to question the longevity of their existing employment and how they can ensure they are earning a living in the mid-term, given the changing nature of the labor market and the jobs available.” Uber is killing the taxi economy. Airbnb is squeezing the hotel industry. AI is jeopardizing so many industries. So how, then, do we prepare our kids for the uncertain future job market? By teaching them the skills that are required across all industries: Complex problem-solving, creativity, emotional intelligence, resilience, grit, leadership, people management, and collaboration.
2) Teaches Them Important Life Skills
While many parents are already teaching kids these essential life skills, you don’t often find these subjects on the docket of kindergarten classes. Learning these skills starts as early as when your child begins to walk (failing and trying again) and often emphasized through free play. Some important skills that entrepreneurship teaches kids includes, but is not limited to:
Self-confidence, resilience, how to sell, problem-solving, creativity, goal setting, empathy.
- Self Confidence: Kids with a strong sense of self-are less likely to engage in dangerous activities and are more likely to be empathetic and help others. It’s easy to encourage self-confidence: let your kids make up their own decisions and come up with their own ideas. By giving them autonomy, they’ll experience higher levels of confidence with anything they do.
- Resilience: Teaching your kids to be able to handle the toughest situations will help them not only in life but in their career. Let them experience failure and encourage them to try again. When they start to develop the confidence to do things on their own, they will eventually grow a thicker skin and will be able to think through problems much easier.
- How to sell: It’s not about teaching them to become a sleazy car salesman, it’s about teaching them the craft of sales and negotiation. Selling is used in almost everything we do: persuasion, negotiation, and conversation. It’s teaching them to effectively convince someone of their idea (“let’s go play in the woods instead of in the pool...”), it teaches them about the value of their time and the value of things (let’s trade hockey cards), it teaches them financial skills (how much to sell her lemonade for), it helps your child build and maintain relationships, and it raises their self-esteem.
- Problem Solving: This is a key driver and essential skill for all entrepreneurs. Knowing how to analyze a problem, come up with a proper evaluation/hypothesis and solution is a leading skill for all successful entrepreneurs. When your child is faced with a problem, guide them through possible solutions (that they have proposed), but don’t help them. Let them view the situation from every angle to come up with the best result.
- Creativity: In order to solve problems though, your child needs to be creative. Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. IMBs 2010 Global CEO Study even suggests that creativity has become one of the more important traits for success. And as an entrepreneur, you are constantly faced with problems that require creative solutions.
- Empathy: A leading skill for leaders to have in order to help gain acceptance amongst their peers. Some people are more naturally empathetic than others, so to work on this skill (some may argue is an emotion), will help your child become an effective leader. Teaching kids empathy is not that difficult, and to actually start when they are young is best. By helping them connect the dots between how they feel in a given situation and how they behave will help them better understand other people's motivations.
- Goal setting: Have you implemented a chore system yet? That's the first step to teaching them about goal setting. Goals keep us motivated and pointed in the right direction. If the chore system outcome is a fun activity or treat, then they’ll know what it takes to get to the finish line. Teaching them goal setting also teaches them about progress, effort, failure, and reward. Start as soon as they start walking by encouraging them to take a few extra steps.
3) Helps Them Learn Difficult Subject Matter
Given all the reasons I already mentioned above, learning a difficult subject like Algebra or even another language will be easier for them because they would possess these skills. They would be more efficient at studying, at math and problem solving and more determined to get the right answer....on their own!
4) They’ll Gain a better Understanding of How To Make Money
A four-year-old topping up their piggy bank with spare change grandma throws at them is counterproductive. It teaches them to expect money, and not how to earn it. Not only that it doesn’t even teach them how to want to earn money. Simply having it or not wanting it as essentially the same, at least at a young age. Kids need to learn that they have to provide value to someone in order to earn something in return. Here is why the chore system can get tricky if there is a monetary reward attached to the outcome: it teaches them that they can be paid for doing the things they should be doing, not what is providing additional value. It’s the same if you compared an entrepreneur just getting by with a successful one. Mediocre entrepreneurs do what they should be doing in order to get paid, successful ones do what adds value in order to be profitable.
We need more entrepreneurs! It’s not only great for our economy, entrepreneurship helps solve some of the world's largest problems. And we need more problem solvers!
This is the reason why I started the Mini Maker Workshop series. I want to encourage kids to become entrepreneurs and, at the very least, think like an entrepreneur. Check it out here.
How have you been able to teach your child to think like an entrepreneur?