Top Tips For Encouraging Enterprising Traits In Our Children.
Posted by: Sue Atkins
My friend Lorraine Allman has written a really super book bursting with practical ideas to help you develop your child’s entrepreneurial creativity.
Enterprise for me is a mind-set and it starts early so whether you want to help improve the prospects for an exciting and rewarding future for your child in business, improve their future job prospects or simply help them to grow in self-confidence and make the best of their abilities, Lorraine’s book will help you, to help them, at the ages where your influence and support is most significant.
I love this simple comprehensive and practical book as it provides you with an understanding of the nature and value of entrepreneurial characteristics, provides simple activities for specific age groups (and an understanding of what your child is learning through each activity !) & has inspirational interviews exploring the childhoods of successful entrepreneurs.
Lorraine’s book shows you just how easy it is for you to nurture key entrepreneurial characteristics in your child through fun everyday activities, because I believe their future starts with you!
“As the number of job vacancies available to school-leavers and graduates continues to shrink, developing our children’s entrepreneurial ability from an early age has never been more important. Encouraging enterprising traits in our children will help them succeed at work and generally in life, to become happy, confident individuals while supporting the future economy with inventive and ambitious contributors.
Enterprise is all about creativity, and what better place for this to start than at home? As parents, we have a crucial role to play in inspiring an enterprising attitude in our children. We instinctively rise to the challenge of responsibility for development of our children’s intellectual, emotional, and physical needs. We do a vital job in supporting them with their continued learning outside of school in areas such as numeracy and literacy, but there is also much we can do to help them in the development of the essential skills for their working lives too, and it’s never too early to start that, if it comes from a place of play.
Your child’s first introduction to entrepreneurship is likely to be role play with their toys. This could involve setting up a pretend shop, playing at roles such as a taxi driver, swapping toys with a friend or siblings, and of course using toy money.
Letting your child’s imagination have free play is really important, as is making sure they get to try out different roles to help them experience the different sides for example of buying and selling. If you have several children of different ages, encourage them to organise themselves into particular roles, taking on particular tasks associated with running the shop is a great introduction to teamwork and understanding different customer requirements.
While your children are playing, take time to notice what kind of role your child seems to enjoy – do they like planning and setting things up, or do they seem more at home ‘selling’ or perhaps ‘making’ the products. Noticing over time what your child seems to enjoy can help you learn more about the talents they may be developing, plus it gives you an opportunity to provide feedback and helps them recognise and celebrate their own special talents.
Children love a good story and are natural storytellers themselves. Storytelling also plays an important part in everyday life, including business. Many business leaders and entrepreneurs use storytelling to inspire teams or encourage others to take action. Exposing your child to a wide range of different stories through mixed media such as music, television, games consoles, and of course books will all help them learn more about the world they live in. Encouraging their imagination means developing your child’s perception of possibilities, and encouraging innovation and a different way of looking at things – very much an entrepreneurial trait.
Whether recording holiday times in a scrapbook or on video, putting together a storyboard, or using ‘creative movement’ where stories are told with mime (a favourite in my house!) storytelling gives your child an opportunity to not only reflect on what they have achieved but also learn more about ways to tell and present stories.
Experiment and explore
Entrepreneurs aren’t always creators of brand new, innovative products – they can often be found trying to discover ways in which existing systems or items can be improved upon. This desire to improve or make a difference embraces certain elements of risk. The same can be said when you allow your child to experiment, so it’s important not to be too concerned about them ‘getting it wrong’. Your support in discussing their ideas, however wacky, is important as is helping them discover what works and what doesn’t. Show them that their opinions and ideas are valued even if the ideas don’t work.
Whether helping out with DIY during the school holidays, taking apart the bubble machine which broke (I have a bag full of broken machines in my house!), or using a simple design sheet to do plan a junk model, the more opportunities your child has to explore, fix, and create, the more they will grow in confidence about what they are capable of.
Successful role models
I was fortunate through my work and research for Enterprising Child to interview some fabulous people who have become successful entrepreneurs. These included Tim Campbell MBE, Lord Sugar’s very first ‘Apprentice’, and Laura Tenison MBE, founder of JoJo Maman Bebe.
They had wonderful stories to tell of their own childhoods and how their parents influenced their developing entrepreneurial behaviour, but the recurring theme through all the interviews was the way in which parents and guardians instilled a strong work ethic. There are plenty of ‘get-rich quick’ schemes to entice people to part with their money in the hope they will one day have great wealth. However, as someone once said to me, the get-rich quick schemes do not become Fortune 500 companies. Business can be hugely rewarding and lots of fun but success in business requires hard work and dedication so modelling that is a great start!
Parents as role models
Developing entrepreneurial potential in your child is about building on their early aspirations and getting everyone in the family involved with their future possibilities. In a celebrity obsessed world, it’s good to know that you can be a role model for your child when it comes to developing their entrepreneurial potential.
It’s often what we do, far more than what we say that they will notice, so model enterprising behaviour yourself by showing them how you deal with uncertainty, and how you make things happen. Be resourceful, be prepared to take some risks and talk about what happens when things go wrong or when they go right. Talk about your work, paid or voluntary, talk about what you do, what difference it feels you make. If you run a business get them involved in that in some way and talk about what you’re doing, why you need to make those extra calls occasionally when they come home from school.
The main thing is to encourage kids to be kids and tap into their great ideas. Developing entrepreneurial potential is not about making our kids grow up too soon – this is all about learning and development through play and tapping into their innate curiosity and imaginative ideas. Not every child will go on to run their own business, but key entrepreneurial traits such as creativity, imagination, thinking independently, and managing risk, can positively impact on the way they view themselves, the world they live in, and dealing with the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.