Entrepreneurialism is the ultimate form of independence. Entrepreneurs possess an important set of attributes and skills sets (resilience, resourcefulness, and endurance to name a few) that enable them to survive no matter how bad an economy gets.
Recently, it has been suggested that the entrepreneurial mind is constructed in the formative years of one's life.
A study conducted by Economic Development Quarterly has shown that entrepreneurs are more likely to have been exposed to the arts at a young age. The same study found those who played a musical instrument in their youth are three times more likely to become entrepreneurs.
The Art of Business and the Business of Art
What's the link?
Art can be defined as the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination. Is this not what the entrepreneur does in a business context? There is the art of business and the business of art. If one can find the perfect balance of the two, then great things can happen. Think of how Steve Jobs' commercial instinct combined with John Lasseter's creative mind to create the iconic animation studio Pixar. Entrepreneurs take ideas and craft them into reality - a reality that reflects the founder’s character. This is one of the purest forms of art. Rebels by nature, entrepreneurs challenge everyday norms, question that which everyone else accepts as the truth, and have the boldness to see the world differently. If your child has an active imagination, and this inclination does not dim as they transcend into adulthood, you could very well have a budding entrepreneur on your hands. The best thing to do may be to encourage and nurture their inquisitive minds.
California has long been a hot-bed of new ideas and innovative thinking. A recent trend has seen many parents recognising the lack of entrepreneurial nurturing offered by the education as a serious obstacle in their child's journey towards independence. This has seen the rise of a popular children's summer camp named "Camp Millionaire". Nestled in the hills not far from Santa Barbara, this camp instils entrepreneurial traits in children and encourages their minds to develop with entrepreneurial flair and the ability to recognise money making opportunities.
However, it is important to remember that a child's mind works differently to that of an adult. In order to appeal to them you must convey things through simplicity and action.
Here are a few ideas which will help your child to develop an entrepreneurial mind:
Idea One: The Value of Money
When shopping with their pocket money, subtly make your child aware of the various values and options that can be purchased from the money that they have been given to spend. If they see something they like, show them something else for a similar price to provide comparison on what value they are getting for money. Make this exciting. For example, show them two bars of chocolate that they could get for the price of the one they have chosen. This will encourage them to be thoughtful of how they spend money and will instill them with important values about mindful spending.
The purchase of a piggy bank which must be smashed in order to be opened may also encourage a child to appreciate the value of money. It will teach them to be disciplined; giving the act of spending money a physical consequence which they will be able to understand: i.e. the piggy bank must be smashed in ordered for the money to be used.
Idea 2: Encourage Creativity
It is important to nurture our youth to think in a creative manner. This is part of the long journey of encouraging them to become inspired entrepreneurial creators. Encourage them to envision a toy that’s not on the market. Ask them if they could customise their toys, what would they do? Encourage them to be imaginative and creative idea-formulators. Never chastise them for asking questions or refusing to take statement as fact.
This will train the child to have thought patterns which will eventually lead to astute entrepreneurial thinking and will help them develop a "challenger mind-set". Help them to think boundlessly by instilling in them the belief that there is nothing they cannot accomplish.
Idea 3: Rebellion is OK
The entrepreneur is a rebel at heart. If you are looking to disrupt a sector, you have to think about things in a different way than anybody else. You have to be willing to go against the grain and approach the world from a different angle. Often, flipping an idea on its head and approaching a challenge with a different approach is exactly is needed to create an "unfair advantage" in business. Many children have a rebellious nature and a contrarian attitude. Within limits, this should be encouraged, not suppressed.
Entrepreneurs have been known to be rebellious in their youth. They are often not the popular ones in the class - they are often controversial, quirky, aloof, and adversarial. These traits, all too often, have a negative taboo attached to them by mainstream society. But perhaps we need to think again about which skills and attributes should be nurtured and which should be shunned? A study sited recently by the Wall Street Journal found the following results:
"The economists find that self-employed workers with incorporated businesses were almost three times more likely to engage in illicit and risky activities as youth than were salaried workers. These behaviours include but aren’t limited to shoplifting, marijuana use, playing hooky at school, drug dealing and assault."
So should we be encouraging rebellion?
Idea 4: Treat Failure as a Process, Not As A Result
If you can teach a child at a young age that failure is not the end result, but a process you must go through in order to improve and become a winner, then this is one of the most valuable lessons you can teach them. Often it is the fear of failure which prevents people from pursuing their dreams. In high pressure situations, we must realise that the experience in itself will bring us one step closer to being a winner. Perhaps we need to teach our children to see the big picture- it is not this specific result that matters. Often the entrepreneur only can fail multiple times with one victory in order to be considered successful. This is a life lesson that is useful across all life and badly needs to be instilled in the next generation.
It’s a surprise that schools don’t teach children how to look after their finances and make wise investments - surely these are vital skills to ready our children for adult life?
Some say the entrepreneurial spirit is something you are born with, others say that it is something that can be nurtured and developed through personal circumstance. Environments and ecosystems are essential to the development of an entrepreneur. Dan Senor and Saul Singers book “Start-Up Nation” explores Israel’s tech economy.
The perceived reason behind the country’s success? A deeply embedded sociological acceptance of rebellion and an unstructured hierarchy.
There are nuggets of wisdom that one can extract from Israel's success as an entrepreneurial nation. There are more start-ups per capita in Israel than in any other country. It has something to do with unstructured hierarchy, the encouragement of risk-taking, the removal of common taboos such as fear of failure, and a celebration of rebelliousness. Perhaps we can create our own Camp Millionaire in our very own homes if we start to weave entrepreneurial thinking into the fabric of our every day lives.