Will your child be the next successful entrepreneur?

It is too bad that entrepreneurship is called entrepreneurship!  It is such a long word: difficult to spell, difficult to pronounce, and very difficult to explain to children.  But it’s important for children to know that being an entrepreneur is a viable and even desirable career option, and important to our society that this path is considered by our children and young people.

As someone who has been a salaried employee all of my life, and the daughter of people who were salaried employees all of their lives, I have watched with amazement and admiration as some of my former students have started their own companies.  Because of the line of work I’ve been in, these particular companies have focused on things like software product development, network security, and management consulting.  I am proud to say that these companies have evolved from exciting early start-ups to successful players with global partnerships.

For those of us whose upbringing and work experience has included the security of a pay cheque, the risk associated with going out on your own is difficult to contemplate.  However, it is all too easy for us to lose sight of the fact that if some people aren’t willing to take this risk, the rest of us won’t have jobs.  There can only be so many public sector jobs.  When my former students are successful in following their dreams, they end up creating hundreds of new jobs in our region.  In an area of shrinking population, this outcome is hugely significant, since otherwise these well-qualified technology professionals would be moving elsewhere.  Instead they stay here, pay taxes, raise families that fill the schools, and contribute to the social fabric of our community.  Everyone wins.

Clearly, we would all benefit from more people finding and embracing their entrepreneurial side.  People I know who are entrepreneurs are passionate about their enterprise.  They are innovative people who are always looking for opportunities and growth.  The words “Innovation”, “growth”, and “entrepreneurship” are popular with policy makers at all levels of government for the reasons alluded to above.  As I mentioned earlier, when entrepreneurs are successful we all win.

While listening to an excellent panel discussion on these issues yesterday, I started to think about how young people are influenced into taking the exciting, though risky, path of starting your own business.  It seems that, by and large, people who have grown up in families that were business owners are most likely to accept that lifestyle, with its attendant risks and rewards.  Others are drawn to the possibilities of a start-up by being unexpectedly exposed to this world as a young adult, and being captivated by the excitement of working for yourself and building your own company.  I wondered how young children could be influenced to consider entrepreneurship as a life calling.

In checking the Internet, I found many helpful suggestions. I’ll share just a few here.

In a column in Forbes, Daniel Isenberg had a well-considered list of eight recommendations given at the request of Ireland’s Minister of Education for developing child and youth policies to foster entrepreneurship later in life.  Of the eight recommendations Isenberg provided, all of which are worth considering, I am going to share Isenberg’s Recommendation 2:

2. Create cultural icons. Research five decades ago by Harvard’s David McClelland and colleagues showed that the stories and sayings that parents tell or use with their children can impact entire societies a generation later. I remember as a child “The Little Engine that Could,” and “A stitch in time saves nine.” I recommend you sponsor children’s story contests, by adult, youth, and child authors. Crowd source the design of cultural images. Identify the values you want the stories to reflect: perseverance, resourcefulness, hard work, mastery (taking control of one’s own fate), leadership, ambition and success, experimentation, independent thinking, learning from mistakes, creativity and innovative spirit and some of the relevant values—and explicitly use them as themes for the stories.”

I love the idea of sponsoring children’s story contests that embrace themes related to fostering an entrepreneurial spirit.  I think perhaps I will take up that challenge, contest or no contest.

Another article that intrigued me was a post by Alvina Lopez called 10 Children’s Books Every Business Student Should Read.  Her reasons are included in her post, but to get you thinking about the messages in these books, several of which I’m sure you’ll know, here is her list:

  1. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
  2. The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper
  3. Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
  4. Charlotte’s Web by EB White
  5. Beyond the Traditional Lemonade Stand by Randi Lynn Millward
  6. The Story of the Three Little Pigs
  7. Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall
  8. Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss
  9. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
  10. The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton

Thinking about the messages in these classic tales from the perspective of entrepreneurship is an interesting exercise.

Do any of you have other ideas about how to encourage children to consider an entrepreneurial future?  To at least have it as an option on their list, along with doctor, teacher, policeman, and princess?


This entry was posted in Children's stories, Entrepreneurship & Business, Just wondering and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Will your child be the next successful entrepreneur?

  1. Nicole says:

    Great article, and who really knows what the future holds.
    Princess. Ha ha. Nice way to end.

  2. Jane Fritz says:

    Reblogged this on New Brunswick Women in ICT and commented:
    Folks, I posted the following to my own personal blog yesterday and thought maybe it would be food for thought for some – or all – of you regarding how to engage young children (especially girls) in the possibility of becoming (hopefully IT-oriented) entrepreneurs. I’ll be posting some further thoughts on this topic, which I could either repost on this site or you could follow on my robbyrobinsjourney site. I don’t want to bother you if it’s not your thing. Jane

  3. Sorry Jane, I was so enthralled with your reading list I forgot to mention what we do for our Grandson to open his mind. Because I do business coaching I occasionally take him with me (with the owner’s permission) to observe how businesses work. He gets to go behind the scenes at manufacturing plants, bakeries, delis, running and cycling stores, car detail shops, and others. He loves it. He sees it as him and Grandpa going on a big adventure. As we travel to the business I tell him what they do and give him a few ideas on what to look for. When we are at the business and he sees what I have mentioned his face lights up and he is quick to let me know he has discovered it. Not only is he learning, but we are creating lasting memories both of us will cherish.

    Be encouraged!

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Wow, what an impressive grandpa! Great idea. I may have to include your approach to introducing children to the world of business in a future post on the subject. Thanks a lot, Steve.

  4. Jane, thanks for this post. I have long believed more people should undertake entrepreneurship. Knowing how important it is for us demonstrate to children the great big world of possibilities, it only stands to reason we should expose them to successful business concepts as well. Not as an early MBA program, but as an early development of their self-esteem. Thanks for the list…we are off to make a few book purchases for our soon to be six year old Grandson.

    Be encouraged!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.