Why Kids Should Think Like Entrepreneurs

Even though I worked in corporate world for many years, I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mindset – an important skill that I believe leads to success no matter how you make a living. Demonstrating this skill made me stand out and advanced my career in corporate America, and also gave me the confidence to become an entrepreneur later in life.

Now, I’m dedicated to teaching my kids to have an entrepreneurial mindset to help them succeed in both their everyday lives and future careers – whatever those may be.

What’s an Entrepreneurial Mindset?

Whether you’re self-employed or work for a company, success requires the following attributes – the same that make up an entrepreneurial mindset:

  • Action – the ability to turn ideas into action
  • Innovation – always looking to see how something can improve
  • Creativity – infusing passion, personality and energy into your work
  • Risk-taking – having the courage to speak up, try new things and continually push yourself out of your comfort zone
  • Agility – learning quickly, reinventing yourself and adjusting to new environments
  • Resiliency – being able to fail and get back up quickly

I want to stress the last one – resiliency. Everyone experiences rejection and failure. It’s how we bounce back and keep going despite our setbacks that’s important. Imagine the advantage our kids will have if they can learn how to do this early and often.

Why I Raise Entrepreneurs

For years at my job, I would bring my kids to Bring Your Child to Work Day. It was a great opportunity to expose kids to what I did for a living. The company rolled out the red carpet for the kids with tours, lunch, scavenger hunts and entertainment. After the day, my daughter told her dad that “Mommy has the best job because she gets to pass out candy and then go to lunch.” Hardly!

It dawned on me that rather than just exposing my kids to the professional world, I wanted to teach them what it takes to be successful in their chosen career. I don’t think that just because kids are young, they shouldn’t develop skills that will help them later in life as working adults.

In our house we watch a lot of Shark Tank together and discuss the business ideas. I ask them if they think the idea being presented is a good one, and why or why not? Would they invest in it? How would they have improved on the idea or done it differently?

Watching Shark Tank got us thinking about a business we could start as a family. We thought a lot about what is a need or a problem people have that we could solve. The idea came one day when I asked the kids after school, as I always do, “How was your day?” and as usual, got one-word answers and grunts in response. Out of frustration, I told them I hate their answers and they told me they hated my question. “Ask a boring question, you get a boring answer,” they told me.

In search of a solution, the kids wrote better questions I should ask them after school that they would find interesting enough to answer. Their fun questions led to fun conversation. Then the light bulb went off. Getting kids to talk about their day after school is a universal problem. And my entrepreneurial-minded kids had a solution. They spent the summer writing and collecting creative questions from friends to compile in a book. The end result was, 365 Ways to Ask, “How Was Your Day?” – Questions that Don’t Suck to Get Kids Talking. The kids started selling the books at school, craft fairs and online.

My high-school aged son took money he made from selling the books to start his own online business selling used clothes. That business now earns him more money than his part-time job as a swim instructor.

I feel good knowing that no matter the path my kids choose in life, they can look back on these past experiences and know that having an entrepreneurial mindset opens many possibilities for them. They can’t go wrong having the confidence to infuse their personalities and passion into what they do to make work exciting, to take risks, look to innovate and to fail forward.

Tips to Raise Kidpreneurs

Here are some easy tips to instill an entrepreneurial mindset in your kids. I’ve done all of these in my own home!

Let them sell Girl Scout cookies and Boy Scout popcorn on their own. As tempting as it is to make sure your kids get first place in sales, they will benefit more long-term by experiencing themselves the direct correlation between effort and outcome. Have them go door to door, make eye contact and make the ask of neighbors themselves.

Push them to sell creatively. What can they make to sell to family members, neighbors, or at craft sales and farmers markets? Some ideas include t-shirts, cookies, or Christmas ornaments. Encourage them to enhance whatever they do with their creativity and unique personalities.

Help them think about services they can provide. Have them make flyers to market services to friends, family and neighbors (e.g. house cleaning, clothes folding, babysitting, leaves raking, cooking, etc.). Ask them to think about how they should “market” or “sell” themselves on the flyers to stand out from the crowd.

Encourage them to think about serving others. What can they do to make someone’s day better or improve something that frustrates others? Can they make that idea into a family business project?

Talk to them about the benefits of getting a job. Whether babysitting, lawn cutting or a part time job at a store or restaurant, there are lots of things kids can do starting at age 14. Part-time work will teach them about hard work, time management and the value of money. It will also help them learn what they do and do not like to do.

Ready to instill an entrepreneurial spirit in your kids? Visit my website at The Brimful Life for more ideas on how to connect with your kids and find more joy, adventure and meaning in your everyday lives.

Post a comment below to let me know what creative things you are doing to raise kidpreneurs.

Let's Connect

Beth Ridley is an entrepreneur, speaker, influencer and consultant who believes life is short, so we should live it fully. That’s why she created The Brimful Life, a content, consulting and coaching company that helps individuals thrive in their careers and helps leaders foster inspiring, innovative and inclusive cultures that bring out the best in others. 

Beth has diverse leadership experience working in start-up, corporate, professional services and non-profit sectors. Beth is a former Booz Allen management consultant and a former Fortune 100 company executive who’s led strategy, sales, training, operations, diversity and inclusion and client experience functions. Beth has lived and worked in London, Tokyo, Johannesburg, Bangkok, Boston and New York City.

Beth combines her broad professional experience with a certification in positive psychology to encourage and enable others to infuse careers and organizational cultures with inspiration, innovation, joy and meaning.

Beth has a BA in English Literature from the University of Virginia, a MA in International Relations from Tufts University and an MBA from Columbia University. Beth lives in Wisconsin with her husband and three children. She recharges with running, speed skating and watching cooking competition shows on TV which is ironic because she really hates to cook.

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