How to Raise Entrepreneurial Kids and Encourage their Dreams
The parent's modern struggle:
How do we ensure our child's business idea is realistic without destroying their excitement and passion?
When your child says they want to start their own business where does your mind go? Do you think about the work that would entail? Often leaping to how much work it’s going to be for you? Do you start planning for the logistics it will involve right through to mass manufacturing and the cost of advertising? Do you listen to their great idea and think it’s not going to make any money?
That’s a pretty common reaction. We as parents are the safety net. Of course, it’s our very job to ensure our children are guided and supported, but ultimately, we want them safe. To this I will add happy.
But what if certain situations warrant a more cheerleader roll?
What if our compunction to protect is hindering, or even destroying our child’s chances for success?
So, when I’m asked how to keep them realistic while supporting their passions to start their new business and launch their great idea, I say don’t be realistic.
Don’t curb their enthusiasm.
Don’t be cautious.
Instead try being their very first raving fan.
Even if you think their idea is ridiculous or won’t make money or is logistically insane.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t question to get a better handle on their vision, but question with an inquisitive flare where you sound curious and engaged. They will come to the necessary conclusions on their own through inquiry. You don’t have to provide the "what ifs".
Sara Blakley, creator of Spanx, notes that she didn’t tell her close family and friends what she was working on. Once she had proven her idea, she finally let them in on it. And like all good parents they immediately offered well meaning objections why it wouldn’t work and all the risks.
She explains that if she were to have heard those objections earlier in her journey, she would have likely abandoned the idea. Sara now has a billion-dollar company.
When Blakely first began exploring the idea for footless pantyhose, she didn’t tell many people. “Ideas are the most vulnerable in their infancy,” she says. But those she did tell were generally not enthusiastic. She heard from several: “If it’s such a good idea, why hasn’t anyone else thought of it?”
The doubters do you no good.
But, obviously, children starting a business need to share and get your support.
When we add our pragmatic adult point of view, we rob them of an important process: the figure-it-out-for-myself process.
This process attaches them emotionally and intellectually to the outcome.
Why? Because they want it to be successful.
They have plans for that money. Interestingly the money becomes secondary in the long run but it’s something they can see as a tangible outcome they personally benefit from. It isn’t a gold star or a medal, it’s tangible and empowering.
It’s something they created that someone else wants.
This is an opportunity to share in the wild imagination of your child and learn to lead from behind. You don’t have to be realistic. The real world will cover that.
You need to be the little entrepreneur's biggest fan
So then, how can I help them start their entrepreneurial journey?
When a child has the opportunity to launch their own business – even a lemonade stand – the anticipation is all about the potential:
- Potential to make money for themselves
- Potential to be of value
- Potential for independence
- Potential for positive feedback
- Potential for failure
Yes, you read that right, the potential for failure. It attaches the anticipation to a RISKY outcome. This is both exciting and scary.
Anticipating selling their own business product helps kids build a growth mindset
When risk is involved in anticipating something pleasurable the stakes are high, and the mental and emotional growth that occurs is equally profound.
When your child is looking forward to an outcome, like it was Christmas, with something they have worked to create themselves, it shifts from “test” to “success” in their thinking.
They are not considering failure as a pass or fail outcome, but more of a brick in the path to their success. Failure becomes a spark to learn more and try again.
Professor Carol Dweck calls this the power of ‘Not Yet’. In her TED Talk “The power of believing you can improve”, Dweck notes that when students are met with failure they have two predominant mindsets: a growth mindset or a fixed mindset. Those with a growth mindset saw potential in failure to improve.
Anticipating the sales ‘day’ of a product you have created is an excellent foundation for a growth mindset. They are proud of their product and yet…it could fail.
But ‘failure’ to an entrepreneur simply means ‘not yet’.
How do we do it at Galileo?
At Galileo, we believe that entrepreneurship is a pillar of success. It’s a foundation to prepare them for a future we can’t possibly imagine yet.
Perseverance, resilience, critical thinking and creative problem solving, design thinking and business modeling are some of the tools we equip kids to help them build their own business if they want to.
Coming soon: You can join a Parent's Club
If you are not sure how to encourage your kid’s entrepreneurial spirit, feel free to join one of our free Parents club that meets every month. You’ll be able to share your questions and meet other families in the same learning journey.
Clubs are a fundamental part of our school. Galileo kids have over 30 clubs to choose from, ranging from Virtual Reality, 3D Modeling or Minecraft to Theater, Global Citizenship or Music.
Our parents are also learners for us, and we are building a selection of clubs for them to practice and share new learnings on how to raise future-proof kids.
If you are interested, get in touch with us and join our Learning Network.
We're always happy to welcome new members to our ever-growing, global family of forward-thinkers.