Parenting advice: Help children develop an entrepreneurial mindset

IMG_0619With the state of the world economy and the changing world of work, entrepreneurship is no longer just about starting and running your own business, it is a state of mind that more and more people need to adopt and cultivate, particularly our children.

They are a generation who are entering the world of work at a time of great flux and change. Many of the jobs they will do have not yet been invented and many of our children will have to create their own jobs, reinventing employment as we know it. One of the aspects of future-proofing children today is to help them to start seeing the world through the eyes of an entrepreneur.
The world has changed

  • 60 – 70% of the jobs our children will do have not yet been invented
  • There is a move by big companies to downsize their head offices and outsource more instead of employing people full time. Technology enables companies to take advantage of the on-demand workforce, paying for services as and when they need them.
  • Companies no longer employ people for life. In addition, disruptive change means that entire industries are changing and jobs and knowledge today can become obsolete tomorrow. We need people in the workforce who are adaptable, flexible and resilient. In other words, we need people who can cope with rapid change.
  • Employment no longer provides security
  • It is estimated that 60 – 70% of our children will become entrepreneurs, creating their own jobs.
  • They will have portfolios of jobs which may include periods of employment, self-employment and unemployment.

Developing and entrepreneurial mindset

Whether our children become entepreneurs from the start or after they have had a few jobs, developing an entrepreneurial mindset that they carry with them wherever they are is key. They need to develop ‘MeInc’, operating with entrepreneurial vision wherever they may find themselves, honing the skills and developing the traits that serve entrepreneurs.

Rapid change creates opportunities

As we move into an era of constant change we need to see the world through opportunity eyes. Entrepreneurs always question things, challenging the status quo. They are curious. Take current affairs such as power cuts and drill down through the problems and challenges to the opportunities they create.

Beyond the lemonade stand

Children love playing things like Shop, Shop and Doctor, Doctor. Fantasy play is an essential part of wiring a child for real life. Do encourage your children in early entrepreneurial pursuits including supporting them when they want to set up their first lemonade stand to sell stuff to your neighbours because the will learn about:

  • Supply and demand – know what your market likes
  • Creating a drawcard
  • How do deal with customers
  • Advertising on its own won’t bring in all the sales
  • Having confidence in your idea
  • Have confidence in your idea. Absolutely.
  • Being resourceful regarding ‘ingredients’ and manpower
  • Business requires effort

The bottom line is to create opportunities for your children to try out their ideas and take responsibility for their choices and actions:

  • Setting up a stall at a real market as a family would also give your children a great experience of real trading.
  • Selling their own raffle tickets when doing fundraising versus you selling them for them builds confidence in their ability to sell.
  • Support their school market day initiatives not only with cash or product, but with conversation. What did they learn, how could things have been done differently?

Parenting tip: Speak the right lingo

The basis of entrepreneurship is essentially about understanding buying and selling or trading. When you shop with your children or buy in a service such as going to the doctor or dentist, chat about who is the buyer, who is the seller and what is being traded.

As they get older you can advance that conversation by listening to the economic indicators that come up at the end of the of news, together. And then discuss them – profit, loss, the impact of the gold or oil price.

Children need to learn the theory of money, budgeting, accounts and trading, but ensure they also get practical experience, seeing this stuff in action so that it has meaning for them.
Use teachable moments

I can think of a number of current examples that provide great teachable moments for children around trading and entrepreneurship:
– Eskom energy crisis
– Brexit
– Uber

The importance of mentors and role models

While you are your child’s primary teacher and role model, find other adults who will champion your child along the way. In order for your child to really believe in themselves they need feedback, preferably from a number of different sources.

They also need to see entrepreneurs in action. Which of your friends are out there strutting their entrepreneurial stuff? What can you share with your children from your employment perspective and experience. This is how children colour in their entrepreneurial picture with stories of others that will inspire them to create their own.

There is so much more to be said around helping children to develop and entrepreneurial mindset. The bottom line is that children need to be equipped today so that If traditional job opportunities don’t knock they need to know how to build a door. Entrepreneurship is a mindset that is essential to cultivate if you want a future-fit child.

Read more parenting advice by parenting expert, Nikki Bush.

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