Can a child be an entrepreneur? Should children be entrepreneurs? The short answers are: Yes… and yes!
As a matter of fact, many successful entrepreneurs started businesses as children.
There are amazing companies founded by child entrepreneurs and many children who have launched successful startups.
And whether you envision that your child will grow up to be an entrepreneur or not, I believe there are many powerful reasons to teach your children to think like entrepreneurs and to foster an entrepreneurial spirit in them.
How can a 7-year-old start a business?
Some people think it’s amazing that my daughters started their business when they were just 7 and 8 years old. Many children start businesses at a young age.
I was actually 7 years old when I started my first business and became an entrepreneur. I lived in a slum and, on the surface, it didn’t seem that I had much at all.
However, the how a child can start a business really starts with the why.
My personal desire of building a successful business was sparked because I had a bigger vision for my life and I wanted to infuse that vision in others around me.
Elisha and Elyssa decided to start a business at a young age in order to inspire other children to have confidence in themselves, nurture their creativity, and be bullyproof.
I firmly believe that when your why is big enough, the how will work itself out. What is a good business for a child to start? Entrepreneurship in children starts with raising a child that has a heart for others.
To determine what kind of business a child could start, I recommend you ask your child these 3 questions:
If you could wave a magic wand and create the perfect world, what problem would you solve?
At the core of the entrepreneurial spirit is a desire to solve a problem, because entrepreneurship is about bringing solutions.
What is something painful that happened to you or someone you know that you don’t want to happen to someone else?
This is a good way to help children honor their emotions and then use them as fuel to create change.
What would you love to create?
This one is my favorite because, as Steve Jobs would say,
The only way to do great work is to love what you do.
Simply by discussing the answers to these questions, you are already empowering your child to think like an entrepreneur.
Do’s and Don’ts for Raising A Child Entrepreneur
With my young entrepreneurs now being teen entrepreneurs, I have learned what to do and what not to do when it comes to raising entrepreneurial children over the years.
Here are a few:
Don’t focus on money.
Yes, a business – by definition – is an endeavor that seeks a profit, and entrepreneurs do that by taking risks.
But asking “How can a child make money?” is a dangerous way to go about it, because money is a means to an end.
It is important to focus on that end because we want our children to be purpose-driven rather than money-driven.
Do enroll them in a business fair for children.
I recommend becoming involved in an Acton Children’s Business Fair.
When you host a Children’s Business Fair, you can encourage your child and other children in the community to get a taste of entrepreneurship early in life, so they can learn leadership, courage, perseverance, and responsibility.
You get to spend quality time with your children and you receive all the tools and support you need to plan, recruit, promote, execute, and evaluate your business fair.
You get a host guidebook, a 5-step checklist, and all the marketing materials you need, including flyers, templates, brochures, and automated messages.
Learn more here: https://bit.ly/3fkUrZT.
Do focus on value exchange.
Teach your child how what they do makes a difference and how everyone can help someone.
Teach them that what they get in return is proportional to how much they help others solve a problem or reach a goal.
Don’t praise outcomes.
Entrepreneurial children have a growth mindset, and one of the rules in this approach is to praise the process and the effort, rather than praising the result. It won’t be about how much money they made or about the recognition or prizes, but about the values and virtues they developed along the way, whether that is discipline, dedication, creativity, a joyful attitude, or teamwork.
Can children be successful entrepreneurs?
A child can be a successful entrepreneur (or anything else) because it’s our job and our privilege as moms to frame what success looks like.
I like this quote by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to guide how we can measure success, not only in our children’s entrepreneurial projects but also in our own:
The sign of success is overwhelming joy, confidence, compassion, generosity, and a smile that no one can snatch away.
When we allow our children to pursue an entrepreneurial endeavor, we must set them up for success in every way by establishing child-friendly KPI’s, such as:
Demonstrating a good attitude
Being of service to others
There is a great balance between allowing your child to dream big and setting the right expectations. Yes, they can be anything -not everything.
Yes, they can do it all – and not all at the same time.
In pursuing their dream, they can learn resilience, responsibility, and work ethic, and they will develop confidence and a caring attitude towards others…
Or They could start to dread work, become overwhelmed with toxic stress, and feel defeated, anxious, and plagued by unrealistic expectations that lead to debilitating perfectionism.
That’s why the Acton Children’s Business Fair is a great way to get them started.
It provides all of the tools needed for your child to host a fair, along with up to $500 prize money, no matter where you are in the world!
The elephant in the room
As an entrepreneur for almost two decades, and having mentored thousands of moms to become their own boss and work from home, I know that starting a business and maintaining a business is a lot of work.
When you’re an entrepreneur, especially a solopreneur, there are so many parts and pieces that can easily become overwhelming and there are decisions that are intimidating even for a grown woman.
Well, I’m 4’8 (and a half), so you know what I mean.
It’s absolutely true that a young child should not be concerned about sales quotas, hiring and firing, or negotiating with vendors and suppliers, or anything else that is going to cause undue pressure or anxiety.
Raising a young entrepreneur is not about any of this. It is about allowing them to explore their creativity and pursue their dreams, and supporting them in the process.
Entrepreneurship is about providing a joyful learning experience for children, and yes, that means the bulk of the work is on us.
I admit I wish I had enrolled Elisha and Elyssa in the Acton Children’s Business Fair back in the day because I had to figure out so much on my own.
They help children plan, recruit, promote, execute, and evaluate their business ideas, which is definitely a good option and opportunity for parents who want to prepare their children for entrepreneurial careers.
I am going to try it with Eliana and Elydia.
And this is not based on my own agenda for my children’s future.
Yes, Warren Buffett used to sell chewing gum and is hailed as one of the most successful business moguls in the world.
However, I am focusing on what kind of humans my children are right now and what kind of skills they are gaining for their current happiness and development.
Training up a child on the path they shall go is about their character, not really about deciding their career path for them.
I want my daughters to choose for themselves whatever it is that will give them life while blessing others.
How to Raise Entrepreneurial Children and Young Entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurship begins at home.
There are many business skills and valuable business lessons that will not come by teaching children to be business owners but simply teach them to be caring, compassionate, and courageous human beings.
What you’re teaching your child is already an introduction to entrepreneurship.
The rest comes from listening to your child’s vision, believing in this dream, and letting them know you are here to help make it a reality.
1 ~ Ignite a passion for learning in them.
I’ve always encouraged my children to read and learn.
They have grown up reading my favorite books on personal development, listening to personal growth training and other educational resources, and attending entrepreneur conferences, so they have learned powerful life skills that will always stay with them.
Jim Kwik, with whom my daughters shared the stage at Author 101 when they announced their book, I Love ME!, says:
“Learning is the ultimate skill. If you can master learning, you can master anything else.”
2 ~ Provide opportunities for children to think for themselves.
Teaching is most effective when you help children figure it out on their own.
I have encouraged my daughters to study, research and experience things on their own so they can learn from themselves and gain their own perspective.
I have involved my daughters in my decisions, always asking their opinion and insights, so they know what they have to say is important and so they can learn to make decisions for themselves.
As Dr. Seuss would say,
“a person is a person, no matter how small.”
3. ~ Support your children.
I did not know that Elyssa would become so talented at singing when I paid for the first singing lessons, or that Elisha would be so talented at painting when I paid for the first painting lessons.
It wasn’t about that.
I always taught them that they were born to be creators, rather than consumers, so what they create is what will give them true meaning and purpose, and to take charge and responsibility for their lives.
I have supported every one of their creative efforts, even when this represented a sacrifice.
It’s about letting my children know that their ideas matter and that their business ideas are worth my time, my effort, and my money.
4. ~ Teach children financial literacy.
I appreciate that my dad did this for me from an early age and I’m grateful that homeschooling has allowed me to have ongoing discussions with my children about money.
They’ve heard my story over and over and how my entrepreneurial efforts have saved the day over and over, along with my willingness to tithe, save, invest, give back to others, and be fiscally responsible.
It’s not enough to believe they can create wealth.
It’s important to learn how to create it, and even more important to know you have the peace of mind and the time to enjoy it.
5. ~ Foster a mindset of abundance.
When my children would ask for something, I’d have them draw or paste a picture of it or write about it in a “dream journal.”
I made it a point to not say “we cannot afford it,” and to let them know that everything we want is possible.
Our choices on where to spend simply reflect our priorities and if we want to spend more, we must earn more, and in order to earn more, we must serve more.
And while we wait for those blessings to come, we appreciate what we have and generate gratitude for both what we have and what is coming, even if it looked like or felt like we were struggling (and many times we were!).
6. ~ Redefine failure for your children.
It’s more like “remind,” because if you think about how an infant or toddler learns to walk, they are not afraid of failure.
By the time they are in middle school, they have learned to be afraid of making mistakes – in part because we taught them to be.
But this is not to beat yourself up, but more to be conscious, mindful, and aware, because even the seasoned entrepreneur with the most business sense, business experience, and entrepreneurial skills will struggle in his, her, or their relationship with failure from time to time.
So-called failure is a step or a lesson on the way to success!
7. ~ Be sure they understand what they commit to.
It’s easy to get excited about a new project or program and to underestimate or overlook what’s required to see it through from idea to finished product.
When my teenagers recently signed up for a pitch competition – where they earned funding for their business – Elyssa had to rearrange her schedule and Elisha had to add the required tasks to her college responsibilities.
They decided to go for it because attending the 3-day event, coming up with a plan, and presenting to the judges would not be a huge stretch: they would enjoy it, it would be a great experience.
They already had a business plan, a developed business idea, and an understanding on the marketing strategies they wanted to pursue, so they were mostly prepared for the Shark Tank-like competition and review.
However, when they were 9 and 10 and decided to be part of The Nutcracker Ballet cast, they discovered what strenuous physical, emotional, and mental demands it entailed.
After the tour was over, so was their passion for professional dancing.
I supported them in quitting because the effort and time they invested did not equate to the joy they felt in the end.
Joy matters – Feeling good about yourself and just feeling good in general. And having these conversations and assessments matters. That’s why I’m encouraging you to learn about the Acton Business Fair for children.
When you host a Children’s Business Fair, you will be part of their experience, and it will be fun and stress-free.
You can start a new fair right from the Acton Children’s Business fair website, so give it a try and get started now!
Is Your Child An Aspiring Young Entrepreneur?
Many moms often ask me how to know if they should help an aspiring child entrepreneur to follow a passion project.
There is no should, but you definitely could. I would suggest starting small and having a conversation about what it will take and what it will look like.
Starting the journey can be the hardest part, so check out the Acton Children’s Business Fair with your child today.
The most important piece of advice to keep in mind is that your job is not to turn your child into an entrepreneur or prime them to start their own business, but to empower them with the example, education, and tools they need to let their creativity soar.
The Young Entrepreneur Manifesto
This young entrepreneur manifesto is something I wrote up to simplify the ground rules and statements of belief that I have established with my children.
We believe that our ideas are inspired and important.
We are committed to implementing ideas that align with our values.
We recognize that what matters most is who we become when pursuing our dreams and goals.
I am proud of the work my children do as young social entrepreneurs.
Yes, the fact that they are international speakers and bestselling authors and have been endorsed by so many celebrities and world leaders is a cherry on top…
And yet … What will please me most is that they live a happy and healthy life and make a meaningful contribution to others.
How are you inspiring and empowering young entrepreneurs? Whether it is your own children, those you mentor, or teach, share with us in the comment section below.
© Elayna Fernández ~ The Positive MOM
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