I recently spoke on (is it ‘on’, ‘at’, ‘in’?) an online conference. Anyway, grammar aside, I was interviewed for the online conference “The Confident Mother” and was invited to speak because of our interest in the entrepreneurial teen. (You may know that we have taken our two to the USA a couple of times to entrepreneurs’ conferences – lucky things). Indeed – that was the title of the interview – The Entrepreneurial Teen.
As I was preparing for the interview a few things occurred to me, in that “lightbulb moment” type way.
Yes, Tim and I are extremely interested in teaching the skills of being able to start and build your own business (if that’s what is now commonly referred to as an entrepreneur) to our children, but actually it’s about much more than that.
What’s really important to us, personally, is that people have choice in their lives; that they have the skills and qualities needed to allow them to make the choices that are right for them and they want to make. It doesn’t matter what that choice is.
So let’s look beyond the business ‘how to’ just for the moment and look at what qualities and skills we need to have choice throughout our lives.
It occurred to me that the qualities that we need to be instilling in our children, whether they want to start their own business or be a lawyer, actor, accountant, butcher, banker, whatever… are the very qualities that you need to be an entrepreneur.
And of course it’s particularly important that we keep working on these ourselves; we are all work in progress, after all.
So what are they? Here’s a few of the big ones:
- Knowing what you want and setting goals – self-motivation
We can encourage this in our children and teens by doing vision boards with them; cut out pictures of what they want in their lives and keep going back to it.
- Doing what it takes to get what you want – persistence
We have a culture of ‘entitlement’ that is damaging the future generation. They are learning that you can have things on credit before you’ve earned anything and don’t really understand the consequences. They have to learn that they need to be prepared to work for what they want. So, give pocket money or an allowance for helping at home, rather than just for existing, and the ability to earn extra for extra work. And suggest that you will match what they earn for big things.
- Understanding that failure is inevitable on the path to success – resilience
This is such a big one. Most of us struggle with the concept of failure being ok. We all fail in small ways all the time; but if we see it like that it will grind us down. Being able to learn from mistakes and move on is vital.
As parents we often protect our children from making mistakes and learning from the natural consequences of that mistake. “Mum, I’ve left my gym kit at home” – how many times have I dropped it in?! Well, that’s not helping anyone. Protecting our children from getting into trouble does not help to build up their independence and resilience, so think again before you hop in the car.
- Being able to ask for something – self-confidence and communication
We are all selling all the time; yourself, an idea, a product. You can’t NOT communicate, so you may as well do it well. Teach your children to speak to adults, to communicate with people that are not on Facebook, and talk to them without their phones attached to them! Have I already told you that my cousin recently got a job that had had 200 applicants? And the reason she got it? She was THE ONLY ONE who looked the interviewer in the eye and shook their hand; yes, THE ONLY ONE. Personally, we think that all teenagers should learn how to sell properly.
- An interest in learning about all sorts of things – curiosity, problem solving and continual improvement.
People who succeed in life are life long learners, always searching for some kind of improvement and for that we need to instill curiosity and openness in our children. Expose them to interesting people and stories of success if you can; share good news stories and go and find out about things together.
Of course we also need to teach them all sorts of practical skills that I won’t go into today for fear of going on and on! Perhaps another time.
We’d love to hear how you ‘educate’ your teens to develop these skills. Please leave a comment below.