Hey Parents, We Need More Entrepreneurs!
Updated: Jul 30
Last week Denver Startup Week celebrated their 10th anniversary. It’s a free event held in my hometown of Denver and promotes entrepreneurship with a variety of sessions, networking events and pitch competitions across all industries. Pre-covid this annual event drew over 20,000 attendees!
With my extensive background working with startups (Hive Digital Minds is startup #6 for me), it’s an event I look forward to each year. I absolutely love the energy from being around thousands of entrepreneurs and hearing about all the innovative companies they are starting. It’s a great place to be inspired!
The format has switched up a bit the last couple years (obviously) so this year I participated from the comfort of my home office. One session in particular stood out - Youth Entrepreneurship - Nature, Nurture or a Necessary Skill Set?
This session brought together a panel of parents, all of which had raised (or were raising) successful entrepreneurs - kids with multi million dollar businesses. They shared their experiences and gave insights on a much discussed topic - is entrepreneurship a natural skill or something that can be nurtured?
Having an “entrepreneurial mindset” is becoming more and more important in our future world of work. And with so many careers being impacted by technology today it is important for our children to be creative, flexible and adaptable - characteristics we associate with entrepreneurs.
So how can we nurture these skills in our kids at home?
How an Entrepreneurial Mindset Can Help in a Pandemic
When most people think about entrepreneurship they have a vision of someone starting their own business or working independently, and quite frankly this doesn’t appeal to a majority of the population. But looking at the topic a bit more broadly, you'll see there is a set of skills associated with entrepreneurship that can be applied to a variety of careers.
We’ve organized some of the key skills into four main categories:
Optimism - being hopeful and positive, resilient, resourceful, and flexible
Focus - knowing how to set goals, manage your time and stay motivated, an important skill for our remote learners and workers
Communication - making connections and networking, being confident and empathetic and having good public speaking skills
Knowledge Seeker - often referred to in education as “forever learners” or having a “growth mindset”, these individuals are naturally curious, critical thinkers and know how to accept feedback from others
Today, when we talk about entrepreneurship, it goes far beyond the dream of starting your own business. Corporations are seeking prospective employees with entrepreneurial skills to help tackle the steady stream of new challenges their organizations are facing. They’ve coined the term “intrapreneurship” to describe these employees, acting like entrepreneurs in the framework of a much larger organization.
And look at the impact of the pandemic on society. This blog from The Wharton School shares the benefits of Thinking Like an Entrepreneur in a Time of Crisis. I’ll admit being an entrepreneur has helped me stay flexible and keep an optimistic view of the future. But even I am exhausted with the amount of change we’ve endured in our daily home, school and work routines over the last eighteen months!
How to Nurture an Entrepreneurial Mindset in Your Kids
There’s a growing movement to provide more entrepreneurial lessons in our K12 schools. Most often these opportunities are created around specific projects, and giving kids the space to explore ideas and apply those to real world problems.
But there’s no reason we can’t accelerate this learning with a few simple practices at home. Some kids are natural entrepreneurs, and they might experiment with different business ideas when they are quite young without much nudging from you. Our youngest has organized lemonade stands, collected and resold golf balls, set up a snake catching business (that was the most entertaining so far!), and has even experimented with selling some of the forgotten knick-knacks in our basement on eBay.
Other kids might not be as highly motivated and finding ways to develop these entrepreneurial traits takes a bit more of an intentional effort. Checkout this article in USA Today for some tips - How to raise entrepreneurial kids, according to Mark Cuban, Tony Hawk and 9 entrepreneurs. A few of our favorites include:
Make them figure it out - encourage your kids to try new things, and when they get stuck, guide them to a few resources that might help them get ‘unstuck’ (but don’t solve the problem for them!).
Encourage them to find ways to earn money - this can be as simple as setting up a lemonade stand, starting a side gig or getting a part-time job. Today’s job opportunities are more flexible than ever before.
Teach them how to make a decision - involve your kids in some of the decisions you make at home and help them understand how to evaluate the pros and cons, risks and other key factors that lead to a final decision.
Model how to face challenges with grit and optimism - there’s no time like a pandemic to help your kids understand how to try to find the silver lining in a challenging situation.
Demonstrate a good work ethic - whether it is school, sports, art or home chores, encourage your kids to always do their best.
Join the Discussion
Kids with an entrepreneurial mindset will develop into adults more qualified for careers in our future world of work and will be better prepared for the unexpected challenges we’ll face in our daily lives.
So ask your children, when’s the last time they tried something new? And as a parent, what can you do to help raise our next generation of entrepreneurs?
About the Author
Jennifer Larson is an entrepreneur, charter school founder and mother to four children. Connect with her @startupjen.