Can entrepreneurship teach our children valuable life skills to complement classroom instruction? I believe it can, and we should do more to expose our children to the entrepreneur mindset as part of their education.
Raising children is hard as you never know how you are doing until 20 or so years later. That thought alone is enough for me to do everything I can to expose Audrey to new experiences, tools, and skills to help her develop confidence with a purpose to succeed in her time.
I had a brief but impactful conversation with Amber Wakem, the Founder and Executive Director of $tartup Kids Club last week. She described entrepreneurship as developing life skills for our children. It reminded me of Home Economics class, often an elective for students that I wish was mandatory, that teaches everything including preparing a family budget, how to make meals, and how to do laundry.
Home Economics instruction is an effective way for children to learn practical skills for the day to day life of running a household. But what are those life skills that entrepreneurship can provide? And are they necessary for success? I would like to highlight a few below as I believe entrepreneur skills combined with classroom instruction and home economics skills will greatly benefit our children over time.
Perseverance (also known as grit)
Grit is the ability to keep going even when things are difficult and challenging. It is the ability to delay gratification during the journey to success and remain committed to your dreams, goals, or your “north star.” Entrepreneurship teaches children that sometimes the goal is to get to the next stoplight. And that stoplight may take six months. Overnight successes are a myth and grit helps children realize that the journey to success takes time.
Entrepreneurship is the epitome of problem-solving as when developing a new business you are solving for product market fit, new hires, pricing strategy, social strategy, sales strategy, customer support, new features, and more. It’s a constant juggling act that allows children to make a decision (or twenty) and learn from their choices.
When a kid entrepreneur is looking to understand how the product or service is performing in the market, he/she will need to get feedback from customers. This feedback is critical in learning about new potential features and how the customer is experiencing a product or service. Not all the feedback will be positive, and this allows a kid to listen to the market with a keen ear and not get defensive. Learning how to receive input is just as important and learning how to give it.
I love the quote by Michael Jordan “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” It sums up my belief that children (and parents of children) need to know that failure is acceptable. Letting your children fail can at times be the best thing for their growth not only in entrepreneurship but also in life. For me, not trying is the failure. Taking the chance and failing is merely part of the process.
Running a small business – even a lemonade stand for a day – can conveniently teach children about money. When a child has to develop a budget detailing revenue and cost they become readily apparent whether or they are making a profit or not. Kids understand this, and it is an excellent lesson regarding finances they can take anywhere.
The skills of management and leadership are also learned when children take on entrepreneurial endeavors. Undoubtedly, kids will need to work with other kids, suppliers, marketers, retailers, and customers for their product or service to thrive in the marketplace. These interactions help kids learn how to work with others in a variety of situations allowing them to develop people skills they can use for a lifetime.
Entrepreneurship can help our children learn valuable life skills that translate to any situation whether they grow up to be entrepreneurs or not. By combining traditional classroom instruction (including Home Economics skills) with entrepreneurship skills, we help prepare our children for success 20, 30, and even 40 years down the road.