CEO In High School
- Top Tips For Young Entrepreneurs
From Akash Mehta, who sent his first invoice at the age of 13 ...
When our kids are learning to play a sport, we go out of our way to support them. We get up early, drive them around, buy equipment, practice with them, wash the team's uniforms, volunteer to score, participate in fund-raising drives, or whatever else needs to be done.
Some parents seem to expect that their child will be able to learn how to play the money game without that level of parental support. Learning to do business is just like learning to play sport, and your child will need a level of commitment from you to become a successful entrepreneur - the same level of commitment that parents give to kids who go on to become successful athletes.
A significant part of our program at Cash Smart Kids is educating parents about how best to support their young entrepreneurs. When kids are learning something, whether it's sport, a musical instrument, a language, dancing, or cooking, they have times when they want to quit, or don't want to do the boring bits (like playing scales on the piano, or fielding practice). Part of our role as supportive parents is hauling them out of bed, or reminding them 20 times, or saying "sit down and do it now, because you're not going out to play until it's done".
Your child's business activities are exactly the same as all their other activities. You may need to rearrange the household schedule to allow the time and resources your child needs, and you may need to remind, encourage, or even insist about doing the next step in the process.
Just as there are dozens of sports, there are dozens of business opportunities. Your child may try several different sports before finding one they really enjoy, and likewise, they may try several different business ideas before finding one that suits them.
If you are alert for business opportunities and you watch your child's level of interest, you will be able to get behind certain business ideas and help your child to explore them. Understanding that there will most likely be several short-lived business interests is important, because you need to keep getting behind each new idea with just as much enthusiasm as the first.
With sports, we limit how many different sports our child is trying to play at one time. Each one needs time, attention, and equipment, and you need to encourage your child to devote enough time to each one they try to get over the initial "beginner discomfort" and master the skills involved.
It's the same with business ideas. You need to make sure your child doesn't take on too many at once, and then not do any of them properly. One or two at a time is plenty.
Do I Have What it Takes to Raise An Entrepreneur?
You don't have to be perfect parents to raise self-reliant entrepreneurs. You don't have to be a hugely successful business-person yourself, either. Success is largely a matter of attitude, and a success attitude could make you a very successful volunteer fire-fighter, or a very successful lay preacher, or a very successful elementary school teacher.
As parents, our role is to provide our kids with a success attitude, not to give them really good footsteps and hope they follow in them. A key factor in the success of the Cash Smart Kids program is that parents and kids do it together, and there are opportunities for parents, as well as kids, to learn new ideas and new skills, and for their kids to see them doing it.
A major factor in success is continuous, lifelong learning. Your kids will look at you, and if you appear to have stopped learning things years ago, your kids will expect to stop learning when they become adults.
It doesn't have to be book learning that you are doing, or even organized courses - you could take up woodworking, or knitting, or doing the family tree. Just so long as you are always practicing, finding out new information, and struggling yourself with the discomfort and awkwardness of being a beginner. Your child will learn just as much from watching your learning process as they do from their own.
The second major factor in success is giving things 100%, and doing the best you can, even if that's not very good right now. The old fable of the hare and the tortoise demonstrates the power of doing one's best, even when things look hopeless.
So often, by the time our kids are in elementary school, life has dealt us a series of disappointments, and we may not have quite the level of drive we did as teenagers. It's tempting to take the easy way out, sometimes. You've set aside some time after dinner to go through the pile of papers and file them, and then at the time you find you are really tired, and someone puts on the TV ...
Your kids are watching.
Young Entrepreneur Stories
- Ashley Qualls
The story of Ashley's business success
- David Wilkinson
Blogging from age 12, David is making good money and expanding his horizons.
- Fraser Doherty
Fraser Doherty started his jam-making business at the age of 14. Winner of several business awards, he offers his advice to other young entrepreneurs wanting to make their business ideas a reality.
- Jason O'Neill
Nine-year-old Jason O'Neill of Temecula, California, started his own business because his mother wouldn't share hers.