A Lifelong Education: Raising Entrepreneurial Children
Guest columnist Claudine Ying discovers what it takes to raise entrepreneurial children in this day and age
Entrepreneurship can be taught.
Looking back now, I’m grateful for my parents’ tough approach. They taught me that in today’s day and age, you can’t be a cog in the machine anymore, and that any job will require exhibiting some entrepreneurial skillsets in one way, shape or form.
In retrospect, it was precisely this “carte blanche” yet forthright approach my parents had that allowed me to dive into entrepreneurship a lot earlier than I probably would have. And while entrepreneurship generally implies starting your own business, to me, it really means having the guts to do something meaningful that brings about both risk and reward.
There is no right and wrong when it comes to parenting, however through my hundreds of dialogues with parents, what I have learned is that the expectation isn’t that our children will create great businesses or grow to be great entrepreneurs one day, but that our children can begin to change the way in which they think about money, business and life.
As the founder of Bebegarten, an educational platform for change in early childhood education and as a future mother, my hope is that my children will grow up with these early lessons, setting the foundation for great success in life, that don’t come without with many hard lessons along the way.
Here I share a collection of ideas I find logical and potentially effective in raising entrepreneurial children:
1) Encourage problem solving
Entrepreneurs solve problems. Promoting children to solve problems as much as they can at an early age can vastly imbue this skillset, which will eventually become almost second nature to them in adulthood.
2) Allow creativity and inspiration to flow
Having the space to think creatively is so important. In addition to parents’ micromanaging their child’s life, creativity has been heavily drummed out of so many school curriculums. Entrepreneurs have two very important assets that enable their success – time to imagine and time to create. As a parent, you have to give your children the freedom to create, so that they can begin to implement new ideas, which might eventually translate into something spectacular.
3) Failure is key
Failure is what enables us. Entrepreneurship is a way of life and a way of thinking and that inevitably means you’ll sometimes fall short and fail. My parents have never interpreted failure in a negative light; as a matter of fact; they often encouraged it so I could learn from it. The greatest entrepreneurs are those who can get up and stand taller if they fall. In the words of Sir Ken Robinson, English author, speaker, and international advisor on education “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”
4) Shyness is no excuse
My mother is a very social person and has always possessed an outgoing gracious nature. She used to say to me, “you are going to look at the Auntie, smile, say hi, stick your hand out and shake!” They were never the most comfortable of moments, but in hindsight, I see the benefit of getting used to making new acquaintances.
5) Earning means more than money
I know many parents out there succumb to spoiling their children, but that is not the best way to raise an entrepreneurial-minded child. Instead, try to make your children earn some of the luxuries they want. It’s not always about the money, but rather, it is the process that gives children a sense of freedom, validation and satisfaction that cannot ever be bought.
6) Leveraging talent
Forging a great team and recognizing you can’t do it alone is key in entrepreneurship. It’s important in different situations to show your children the benefit in harnessing other individuals to create teamwork.
7) Life is about work and play
Children inherently want to build and play. The best byproduct of teaching your children about entrepreneurship is that they are learning that work can be fun. I always refer to Sir Ken Robinson’s description of true happiness: “If children are pursuing a project they are really interested in they are much more likely to be motivated, persevere and see it through to completion.”
8) Discuss money honestly
I joined a JPMorgan luncheon in September titled, “Mommy, Are We Rich?” at which guest speaker Barbara Hauser—author, keynote speaker and independent family advisor—outlined methods in talking to children about money.
According to Hauser’s findings, parents should try to:
- Be truthful at all times
- Be unassuming of the questions that your children ask
- Be unafraid of sharing how you see money: what is it useful for?
- Be strict with having responsibilities as a part of your life
- Be invested in the value of using their skills and talents
- Be realistic that the earlier they learn about money, the better they are off: learn about it, manage it and then you’ll know how to control it
9) Lead by example
If you want your kids to be entrepreneurs, give them an inside look into your life. Show them and share with them - how your business works, why you’re an entrepreneur, and help them discover their passion in life.
10) Support and invest in your children
Whether it’s money, time or effort, your child can benefit greatly from seeing that their parents support their mission and drive. By investing in your kids and supporting their plans and passions, you will give them the motivation to continue building.