Tips for Inspiring Young Entrepreneurs
1. Teach kids to think “outside the box." Have them look around their community or neighborhood and find a need. For example, if there is not a dog grooming business in their neighborhood, have them brainstorm about a service they could offer to groom neighbors’ dogs for a fee. Have them consider the details involved, such as the type of equipment they would need to do it, how much it will cost, and other aspects. By showing kids how they can come up with new and different ideas on their own, you will help them to create their own unique concepts or ideas and to consider how their idea can evolve into a business.
2. Involve kids in small business ventures. If you are having a garage sale or bake sale, have kids contribute by helping with the planning of the event, estimating the cost of carrying it out, and the expected profit. By actually doing some of the tasks that they would do as a business owner, they will gain valuable skills for later in life if they do own their own business.
3. Have kids “shadow" your work experience for a day and ask them what they would do to improve things. Many parents have kids with them at work sometimes. Why not arrange for kids to shadow you at work for one whole day. Then have a long discussion about it afterwards over ice cream or pizza. Ask them questions such as: “What did you see when you were at my workplace?" “Did you think everything was run smoothly or did you see things you would change?" These types of questions are the types of things entrepreneurs deal with everyday in their own business and who knows, your child might actually come up with something your boss will use!
4. Teach them to be innovative thinkers. The best entrepreneurs are inventors at heart. They know that status quo, but they are bold enough to try to change it. When Steve Jobs (founder of Apple, Inc.) first thought of the idea of the iPod, he knew there were other mp3 players around but he wanted a better one. He wanted one with class and style and one that would be like “a thousand songs in your pocket." Thinking differently and taking something that is already invented but making it better, or creating something totally new like the iPad, is what entrepreneurship is all about.
5. Work with local school districts with gifted and talented programs or school events that inspire entrepreneurship. Many schools are now getting more involved in developing entrepreneurship programs for young people that can help prepare them for the real world of business. By working with your school programs, or helping start one, if they do not have one, you can take an important step toward giving kids the tools they need to thinking like an entrepreneur.
6. Read about what other young entrepreneurs have done. Have kids read about what other young people are doing on their own. Talk about their ideas and see what crazy ideas your child has that could just come true!
Helping kids learn how to create, innovate, and improve on the products and services in our world today is a great thing. It will make them better students and thinkers. And who knows? You may inspire the next Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs, or Henry Ford to set the world on fire. If nothing else, you will empower your child to think independently, to move toward new, unchartered territory, and perhaps to come up with something that the world has never seen before.