The legend, Muhammad Ali (Rest.In.Power) said:
“Even the greatest was once a beginner. Don’t be afraid to take that first step.”
If you see or would like to encourage entrepreneurial skills in your kids or students it’s important to remove fear from the process.
One of the first things I hear when parents or teachers approach the conversation of entrepreneurship to kids are comments like:
“It’s hard work!”
“Now be realistic”
“You’ll have to put it all on the line”
“How are you going to…”
“Where are you going to…”
I’m not saying these questions are unrealistic, but kids don’t hear those kinds of questions if they told an adult they’re going to get a job.
The problem isn’t getting the job or being entrepreneurial, the problem is the limitation placed on the kid based on the adult or teachers own mindset.
I’ve started countless businesses over the last 20 years. My mindset tells me that it can be done, and if I can do it anyone can. So if a kid asks me for advice on a business idea, my starting point is how it can be done, not what challenges they’ll face.
Anyone who has started a business regardless of it working out or not probably learned a lot from the experience. Similarly, the experience of the ‘kid entrepreneur’ is more important than them getting on the front cover of the local paper or making £$€.
TOP 3 DOs
1. Do have the conversation about business, entrepreneurship or making money – more than once and year after year. You’re not doing this because you’re pushing the issue; you’re doing it because self-employability needs to be an option for your child’s future. If you’re reading this you probably realise that not every child is going to get a job and may have to create one.
Also, I’ve come across lots of kids who are either running a business or have aspirations of doing so and an adult be it parent or teacher don’t know. The main reason for this seems to be that the child feels like the adult may shut down their idea.
2. Do give them the tools they need. I’ve noticed that parents can see their kid’s entrepreneurial projects, as a ‘waste of money’ because they don’t necessarily believe their child will take the idea forward.
Remember, at a young age it’s the ‘exercise’ of entrepreneurial skills that’s important, not the success of an expected outcome.
You don’t take your kids to football, drama or buy them a guitar because you think they’ll turn ‘pro’ in any. You do it because you recognize that exposing them to that experience has a huge value regardless of where it goes. Developing entrepreneurial skills is no different.
My daughter a year in front of her iPad recording videos, seemingly wasting time, products in the house and slime! But, she was having a good time so we paid it no mind. This year the skills she honed from many hours of practice have lead her to launching her YouTube channel here .
Recently a fast growing food retailer who commented contacted her on one of her product reviews. They subsequently invited to visit their offices and meet the CEO. I guess it she wasn’t wasting her time after all.
3. Do employ academics. No matter what business your child or student is thinking about doing they will have to use English and Maths at some point. In fact they’ll probably need to use design, technology, communication, leadership and teamwork and a whole host of other skills during the process.
Use entrepreneurship as a learning opportunity for these subjects as and when you see them arise. You’ll be able to get more out of a child or student if you’re trying to engage a subject e.g. English if it’s going to help them make the business idea they’re passionate about happen.
TOP 3 DON’TS
1. Don’t shut down their ideas too quickly. At one of our clubs, a 12-year-old boy had been working on an idea for a month. One day he decided that he wanted to change is idea to something totally different. He wanted to be an accountant and financial advisor, at 12 years old. I have to admit, this didn’t sound like a great idea, he’s too young to be an accountant or financial advisor.
His mother then asked me “Who would take financial advice from a 12 year old?” That’s when the light bulb moment came and I replied “Other 12 year olds!”
His target audience, 10-18 years old given he’s pretty advanced for his age and he sits in a growing market of kid entrepreneurs who’ll probably take advice more easily from someone closer to their age – clever boy! Took the adults a minute to get there though.
So remember, just because you can’t immediately see the ‘big idea’ doesn’t mean there isn’t one. Doesn’t mean there is one either, but don’t shut it down before you’ve given the idea breathing space
2. Don’t let money be the thing. A lot of parents and teachers I hear talking to students about business or entrepreneurship use the M word (money) way too fast.
Entrepreneurship is about helping that child taking what they love and seeing how others can benefit from it. That’s called the ‘business model’. How they can then make money from that is called the ‘revenue model’, which comes after.
Yes money is important, but it’s the output of delivering a valued product or service.
Mikaila founder of Me & The Bees Lemonade realised the importance of bees, the value of honey and how it could make a classic drink healthier. The monetary success is a result of the idea not because she set out to make loads of dosh.
3. Don’t let tradition squash a good idea. At the start of one of our sessions, after defining an entrepreneur as ‘someone who does what they love and makes money from it”.
I asked a 10 year old called Nicholas what he loved to do. He sprung out of his chair and said “Watching movies!” I went on to explain to all the kids that the job title usually associated with someone who gets paid to watch movies is a film critic. However, film critics usually have a job not a business.
But not today, on the fly I searched YouTube for ‘movie review’ and was presented with a page full of independent film critics. I showed how they have used YouTube as a platform to gain millions of views and subscribers that we all know can monetise quite well.
This is no mean feat however but it allowed young Nicholas and the rest of the kids in the class to see that there was a way they were familiar with to turn their passion into profit.
Julian ‘The Ultrapreneur’ Hall is a serial entrepreneur and #1 best selling author of ‘Entrepreneur to Ultrapreneur‘. The founder of UltraEducation, a company that teaches entrepreneurship in primary (@UltraKidsClub) and secondary schools.