Ok, let me set the scene. Cheryl and I have four kids. Well, adults now. Ages, as of this month, give or take a month or two, are 18, 23, 25 and 30.
We're proud parents and so pleased the way our kids have matured into responsible citizens and caring individuals. We celebrate each other's differences and it's a delight to have four wonderful friends in our lives that are all unique but at the same time share so much in common.
We've always encouraged them to become independent and to choose how they make their way in life based around what work interests them and in which they feel motivated to excel in.
This post shares with you the common skills they have all developed to varying degrees and which have served each of them in their various entrepreneurial endeavors in their lives so far.
These skills are consistent with the research we've done on the subject of developing entrepreneurial skills in children.
For example, research has shown there are benefits to teaching entrepreneurship to children at school too. In a study of 330 primary schools in Ireland, 87% of teachers reported an increase in confidence among children participating in the Junior Entrepreneurship Programme. Two-thirds saw improvements in their communication and team working skills.
Research also shows that when preschool teachers implement entrepreneurship education in a positive way, then children practice for more initiatives. They are more active, creative, communicative, enterprising, using intelligent problem solving and decision-making skills.
This post is not going to make much sense though unless I paint a picture of what the four Gregory offspring have been up to in the business arena. So here's a quick run through in age order from eldest to youngest.
Saskia (now Saskia Crawley) - she's now running her own social media business called Share The Joy Media.
Saskia provides strategic web copy and blog content for businesses in the kids/family sector – web copy and blog content that drives parents to her clients' websites and converts them into customers.
However, she began working online whilst at university and managed to pay her way through her three-year course by working as a copywriter for numerous clients. She was featured in the Guardian newspaper in an article called "How to make money at university." Eventually, this part-time gig turned into a full-time business allowing her to support her two young children, and work from home and build a life style which allows her husband to develop his own work from home business too.
Scout - at age 12 he began by selling parts from his own mountain bike to fund the purchase of another second-hand bike. That's taking parts off of his first bike, advertising them for sale, negotiating a price and then posting them to the buyer.
He then worked every spare minute he could, buying and selling used bike parts and slowly growing his eBay store.
Then he set up two website businesses trading under his own name selling used mountain bikes, accessories and rider gear. And all this before he'd left school.
Then in 2013, he began trading in specialist bike parts made of titanium and now at 25 has a growing business supplying mountain bike parts to top international competitors as well as everyday riders. Recently he was featured in an advertising campaign with e-commerce platform Freewebstore.com as he as one of their showcase users.
You'll find more about Scout and his business at Ti-Springs.com
Stowe - supports his music career by working online with various part-time jobs. He's free to write his own music and further his passion by not having to follow a traditional career working 35 hours or more per week and living for the weekends only.
Tolmeia - started the youngest of all at the age of 11 when she began blogging on her favourite subject - fashion. Since then she has built herself a strong online brand presence in the field of ethical fashion. Her writing has obviously changed significantly as she has matured and identified her unique style and message.
She's been blogging and working with brands and learned many skills to support her in this venture and has appeared in dozens of media publications, radio shows, films and events online. Opportunities have included designing her own range of socks and more recently t-shirts in association with the Lost Shapes brand, as well as now working with other ethical fashion brands to promote their work through social media. She's built a nice portfolio of clients. More recently she has launched her digital illustration service for brands that want a unique look for the digital images and gifs.
Read about her here at tollydollyposhfashion.com
I hope that these quick introductions don't come across as examples of pushy parenting, because they are not.
We've always encouraged, never pushed.
I'm merely sharing these real-life examples with you of what youngsters can achieve if they develop the right mindset and skills at an earlier enough age. As parents, we are in the best place to influence our kids' work ethic and attitude toward business and working and the impact it has on the wider communities we are part of.
Here's a rundown of the key skills I see they've developed so far.
Each of our kids has had to bounce back from failure in particular projects or areas of their ventures. They now know whatever they attempt isn't always going to be a success. They've had to learn that failure is positive because it proves you're trying, experimenting and need to approach things differently if they're to succeed next time.
Being resilient means taking any setbacks and failure as an inevitable part of moving forward and recognising that there are lessons that each setback can teach.
As a parent, it's important that we allow them to feel the failure and the negative emotions it evokes but to then support them in moving forward and finding the lessons in the failure. For example, saying something like, "OK that really sucks. It didn't work out the way you wanted but you've learned a lot. Well done. Let's look at how you can do it next time but achieve better results."
We've given each of our children the freedom to explore who they are, who they want to be and how they want to live their lives. This freedom allowed them to be creative and to search for new opportunities and find clever ways to take advantage of the situations they found themselves in.
As we move closer and closer to a world where mundane and repetitive jobs are to be replaced by artificial intelligence, we need kids to develop creative and innovative solutions to problems and adapt to their circumstances more than ever.
Because mundane is always thrashed by creativity.
It takes guts to try new things and step outside your comfort zone. It takes guts to put your ideas out there, to try and sometimes fail. So kids need ample reserves of self-confidence and self-belief, especially when others around them snigger and say it can't be done. Boost your own children's confidence and belief in themselves by being supportive and encouraging.
They take their cues from those people closest to them, especially adults. So choosing our words to boost confidence and self-belief is crucial.
As parents, Cheryl and I have always encouraged an outlook on life that is optimistic and positive. We've tried to encourage optimism by demonstrating through our own behaviours and sharing of our own stories that there's always a silver lining in every cloud. And even if we thought that a particular approach that one of the kids was taking would be unlikely to succeed we never dampened their enthusiasm for trying.
As the kids grew up we taught them the importance of being responsible for certain tasks. This included the importance of finishing what you start, clearing up your own mess and sharing the workload of others when help is needed. This includes DWYSYWD or doing what you said you would do. This is really important when kids start making promises to their own customers, leading teams and having to make commitments to others once they start working.
As a coach and trainer who has worked in adult education and the corporate sector for over 25 years, I'm amazed at how few questions most adults end up asking. It seems that there's a point in time when they just stop enquiring. Their curiosity stops. It's as if they have all the answers and yet they don't.
Something happens can happen to kids once they leave school and enter the workplace. Employment seems to discourage inquiry, curiosity and the asking of questions. Yet successful entrepreneurs are always challenging the status quo and asking how can "it" be done better, faster, cheaper, and more sustainably etc.
Kids need to continue to ask questions and to be curious, eager to find answers and we should encourage this as much as we can.
Unless kids can stand in the other person's shoes and see things from their perspective there's a risk they become selfish individuals and in-effective leaders. Empathy is an essential skill that needs to be encouraged and developed. As entrepreneurs, it helps them to see the opportunities to serve others and how to respond to the needs of all stakeholders in projects they are involved in.
This attribute comes in different levels from raising funds for charities to cleaning the local environment or helping their neighbours.
The point is to encourage kids to see that they are connected to something bigger than their group of friends and family. That they can give back and make a contribution to the bigger world around them.
When we develop this in our kids there's every chance they'll go on to adopt the same behaviour as adults.
We're in the process of developing a course called How To Teach Your Kids To Become Tomorrow's Entrepreneurs. It's designed for parents and teachers and will provide a combination of theory input as well as practical activities that can be applied to children.
If you'd like to know more about the course and when it's launched please click here. We're seeking several beta testers to test drive the course before we go live. So sign up now if you want a big discount as a beta tester,
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