Kids as young as six can make great entrepreneurs -- and according to Kidpreneurs co-author Adam Toren, they actually have unique skills such as curiosity and risk-taking that can put them at an advantage in business. Read on to find out how you can encourage entrepreneurial skills in your youngster -- and even a thing or two more adult entrepreneurs can learn from the "kidpreneur" generation!
What first got you interested in writing a book for the youngest entrepreneurs?
My brother and I were very fortunate to have been guided and encouraged by our grandfather, Joe, to become entrepreneurs. At an early age, he introduced the concept of entrepreneurship to us and set us up with our first business, selling these little stunt airplanes at a local folk festival. From that point on, we knew “what we wanted to be when we grew up” – entrepreneurs!
Without his encouragement, and that of our mother, we might not have ever been drawn to entrepreneurship. A lot of kids don’t have a parent or grandparent who is well-versed in business ownership to show them the way. We’ve found that many parents – even those who are entrepreneurs themselves – want to guide their children in the direction of business ownership but simply don’t know how.
Knowing how to start a business and being able to effectively teach the concepts to kids doesn’t always go hand in hand. So we wrote Kidpreneurs to help parents, teachers, and kids work together to bring kids to entrepreneurship.
The days of working for a company for 30 years and retiring with a nice pension are long gone. Kids entering the adult world need to be ready for a new paradigm – one that comes with its own set of unique challenges and opportunities; and we strongly believe that entrepreneurship, and the skills that go along with it, are what will best prepare our children for the future.
Why is it important for kids to develop their entrepreneurial skills? Where else in their lives can these skills be applied?
To be successful as an entrepreneur, kids need to learn critical thinking skills; they need to learn to take responsibility for the decisions and their actions; and they need to be able to communicate well and get along with people. There isn’t an area of life where these skills won’t have a positive impact.
The other skill – or quality – that all successful entrepreneurs have is perseverance. Entrepreneurship is often loaded with challenges, and if a business owner hopes to do well, he or she has to have a strong will and be able to keep on going, even when they don’t feel like it. Again, this is a quality that can translate into success in many areas of life.
How young is too young to start a business?
We wrote Kidpreneurs with the age group of 6yrs old to 12yrs old in mind.
The most obvious qualities that kids naturally possess that are favorable to entrepreneurship are a natural curiosity, a willingness to take risks, and abundant amounts of energy! But I actually think the biggest advantage kids have over adults in the entrepreneurial world is lack of experience. Now, that might sound a little strange, but really, it makes a lot of sense.
Adults have learned “what works and what doesn’t work” from their own experiences and from what others have told them. That can be very useful, but it can also be limiting. At some point, a lot of adults stop trying new things or lose the ability for true outside-the-box thinking because of their limiting beliefs about what will and won’t work. We run into young entrepreneurs all the time who say that they were successful specifically because they tried something that they later found out no one thought would work, but they didn’t know any better.
Anything us adult entrepreneurs can learn from the kidpreneur set?
That’s a great question, because one of the challenges we often hear young entrepreneurs expressing has to do with parents who just want them to forget about owning their own business and focus on doing what it takes to get a good job. Parents want what’s best for their children, and in their minds, that’s often what they see as the “safe” choice.
The irony of that thinking is that these days there isn’t a job that exists that’s guaranteed safe or secure. Whereas a laid off worker might hunt for a comparable job for months or, in some cases, years, I can think of ten businesses that I could start with very little investment - right now. They would take some time to flourish, but not more time than it takes the average job seeker today to find employment.
A study conducted in 2007 and then repeated with similar results in 2010, by the Kaufman Foundation, shows that kids are in fact more likely to start a business or aspire to do so if they know another entrepreneur. But overall, about 40% of kids from ages eight to seventeen expressed an interest in starting a business. So, a parent doesn’t have to be the example or the inspiration for a child to become an entrepreneur, but they shouldn’t be a hindrance.
Buying Kidpreneurs and going through the process together can be a great learning experience for kids as well as parents. Even if a parent has no entrepreneurial background, the child will, at the very least, begin to think of the possibilities of business ownership. And if that doesn’t translate into starting a business right now, they’ll still carry the lessons with them into adulthood.