Opinions expressed by entrepreneur Contributors are their own.
How to raise entrepreneurs – the classic influences of nature vs nurturing.
Are entrepreneurs born or bred? For me it was probably more nature than education. I didn’t really grow up with entrepreneurs. My grandfather was a janitor; My mother cleaned houses. I think you could call that your own company. But I didn’t see my parents doing traditional startup things like talking finances at the dinner table, reading income statements, or managing employees.
Entrepreneurs see problems and try to find solutions
Natural entrepreneurs have a problem-solving mindset. You walk around and see problems in the world and think of solutions like: Wouldn’t it be cool if…
For example, when I was a kid, I went to baseball practice. I noticed the long line at the snack hut afterwards. Most of the other kids were eating and chatting with their friends. But in the back of my mind I was wondering how I could come up with a better system. The pizza wasn’t even that great but the location was perfect. Every two minutes there were kids spending $6 on a slice of pizza. I did the math in my head. That was one of my aha moments when I realized I wanted to be an entrepreneur.
Another time I went to Costco with my grandparents. I’ve seen packs of Juicy Fruit gum that have 25 cents printed on each pack. But if you buy in bulk, you can get them for 12 cents a pack. For me it was child’s play. I didn’t even have to add the 25 cents to make almost a 50 percent profit. That’s how my mind works.
See also: 4 Pillars for Raising Entrepreneurial Kids
Your environment can influence a natural entrepreneurial mindset
There was also a bit of encouragement on my way to becoming an entrepreneur. My surroundings contributed to my natural instincts. We didn’t have much extra money. I would have to wait for Christmas to get the big gifts like a bike. If I wanted the bike earlier, I knew I had to earn the money myself.
So for me it was a combination of need and mindset. That was the cornerstone of my entrepreneurial journey.
Entrepreneurial families can promote future entrepreneurs
Then there are people who are born into entrepreneurial families. They see the many hours of hard work put in by their parents. They may even have been involved in the family business from a young age. You learn to be independent. You see the financial ups and downs that can happen early in the business. This can definitely have a positive or negative impact on their views on starting their own business. In the end, I think you still need an entrepreneurial mindset to use the lessons learned from watching your entrepreneurial parents.
My colleague and fellow entrepreneur Troy Hoffman had more entrepreneurial experience. He remembers having a teacher who had stacks of entrepreneur Magazine in the back of the classroom. The teacher spoke enthusiastically about starting a business. Hoffman was also inspired by his parents and a family friend who started a successful surf shop. Seeing them build successful businesses gave him the desire to start his own.
See also: How Entrepreneurial Parents Refined My Own Business Acumen
Even if you’re not an entrepreneur yourself, there are some things you can do to encourage entrepreneurship in your children.
Reward thinking outside the box. In general, our school system teaches us to do things the way they’ve always been done. Encourage your kids to find unique solutions to real-world problems. If there is no clear solution, help them find one.
Failure is a learning experience – no risk, no reward
At my company, we have a no-blame culture. I think this allows people to work creatively without fear of making mistakes. Entrepreneurs know that mistakes are part of the learning process. Make sure your kids understand that mistakes are an integral part of learning and growth. Entrepreneurs have to take certain risks. Calculating the risk and reward of your actions is a skill that is valuable in any situation, even if you don’t become an entrepreneur.
Practice your elevator pitch
If your kids ask you for something, tell them that if they have a good pitch and a strong business plan, you will consider it. Even if it’s just about a puppy wish. Let them walk through the steps – analyze their options, calculate the costs and decide on the best way to get financing. Entrepreneurs find solutions to complex problems and convince others of their vision.
Is your child entrepreneurial by nature? If so, give them the freedom to explore that side of themselves. It’s the typical lemonade stand scenario.
If not, try some of the tools I’ve outlined to get them on the entrepreneurial path. Even if they don’t create unicorn startups later, the skills they learn will help them succeed in whatever they do.
Related: How to Raise Entrepreneurial Kids