5 Tips on Building Entrepreneurship Skills in Teens

Mark Zuckerberg, Matt Mullenweg, Mike Kittredge, Michael Dell, Fred DeLuca… You’ve likely heard these names before. Zuckerberg, the guy who went from building a messaging program for his father’s dental practice to changing the way the entire world communicates forever. Mike Kittredge melted some crayons in his parents’ garage one day to make a Christmas gift for his mother and eventually ended up at the helm of a $500 million-worth candle company. Oh, and Fred DeLuca? He was kind of strapped for cash. And, what better way to get some than starting what would become a billion-dollar fast-food business, right? The best part? Not one of these guys even reached the legal drinking age at the time. Now, are we saying that building entrepreneurship skills in teens will make your kid into one of the world’s wealthiest? Not necessarily! It will, however, help them lead a more successful life.

They’ll thank you later!

Why does building entrepreneurship skills in teens make sense?

Gone are days when school was the shortest bridge between the haves and the have-nots. Education today is in crisis. It hasn’t kept pace with the times, and its age is starting to show in the massive misalignment between 21st-century student needs and the mysterious jobs of tomorrow. Namely, instead of encouraging natural curiosity and high-order thinking in young minds, the traditional teaching model has even been shown to stifle ingenuity, along with any chances for securing a job right out of college. That’s why developing a solid entrepreneurial mindset early on makes more sense than you know.

It’s not because of the potential to help one become wealthy and successful. But rather because it gives your children an edge, mental tools for growth, that go-getter attitude, and the confidence to move past their comfort zones. It sets their path to a bright future and fulfilling personal lives. As such, these entrepreneurship skills have actually become life skills, rather than a set of aids you need to run a successful business.

#1 Cultivate their creativity and curiosity

Merriam Webster defines divergent thinking as “creative thinking that may follow many lines of thought and tends to generate new and original solutions to problems”. Decades of research have shown that promoting divergent thinking in early life leads to improved creativity and innovation, which correlates with entrepreneurial potential.

However, it does not occur on its own. This should be practiced in their daily lives. For instance, say they see an issue somewhere or feel upset about something; ask your kids how they’d deal with it and make things better. Teach your kids to question, research, challenge ideas, seek solutions to problems, be curious and ask for further information. You can do this by opening informal discussions, presenting problem-solving scenarios, asking open-ended questions, sharing ideas, creating engaging learning experiences, etc. This allows their creativity and innovation to come to the forefront.

#2 Create a safe space for them to try and fail

Next, you need a safe, wholesome environment that salutes all of their ideas, encourages risk-taking, motivates them to challenge the existing state of affairs, and allows for failure. If they feel safe, teenagers are more likely to share their thoughts and ideas with you. They’re also more likely to turn off their autopilot mode, step out of their comfort zone and into a new challenge. In other words, they’re more likely to recognize their individuality and creativity and express themselves. More importantly, they’re not afraid to try and fail, which is one of the chief factors of personal growth and components in developing entrepreneurship skills while they’re still young.

#3 And while at it, actually let them fail from time to time

This one is crucial in building entrepreneurship skills in teens: sometimes, you have to let your kids make mistakes! Failure is a valuable learning opportunity, a lesson that teaches them resilience, agility, and tolerance for ambiguity.

One day, they may be building their own business from scratch. And when that time comes, they need to know how to handle that stress, as well as rejections, burnouts, lack of focus, and any other setbacks. It’s essential for building character and confidence that will pave your kids’ road for winning their future battles. This, however, requires that parents stop swooping in to rescue their children from failure all the time. Although well-intentioned, parents actually do their kids a disservice by saving them whenever they see a risk of failure. But if they never experience what it’s like to fail, kids miss out on the chance to learn and improve for the future. What’s more, risk-taking starts to feel scary to them, so they are less likely to have the confidence to take on new challenges and face their problems head-on.

Why not give them the benefit of the doubt and trust that they can depend on themselves in challenging situations instead? Let them forget their homework assignment on the kitchen table or their gym uniform in a bag by the door. Even better, provide them with situations where they can make their own decisions. For instance, let them help in decorating their rooms. This is their chance to adjust their space to their age, style, and personality, and your opportunity to show them that you trust them in their decision-making and respect their opinions and decisions.

#4 Teach your teens financial literacy

While on the subject of failures, schools failed at teaching us about financial literacy. Finance management is important. And, we’re not talking only business-wise. Sure, it’s something that can make or break a business. If you aren’t handling your company resources the right way and prudently evaluating your investments compared to ROI, you’re pretty much writing your own recipe for disaster. But even if they don’t plan on starting their own business, being financially literate will help them a lot in their lifetime. For instance, they’ll know how to avoid getting into debt. And, if life happens, they’ll know how to get out of debt.

As a parent, you may feel a little bit underqualified here. But experts said you need no college degree in finance or any kind of special knowledge. Instead, financial literacy begins following some pretty basic lessons, such as teaching your kids:

●  The difference between their wants and their needs

●  That money is finite

●  The consequences of making a money mistake

●  The importance of delayed gratification

●  How credit works

●  That time helps money grow

●  How money works in the real world

#5 Finally, teach them time management

In today’s busy and fast-paced world, mastering time-management and organizational skills has become pretty much invaluable. Goal setting, prioritizing, defining milestones, plan formulation, roadblocks, anticipation, execution, and iteration all help people achieve what they want. However, none of it matters without proper task management, careful calculation, and time allocation methodology. That is how you really get the work done, and it’s one of the key milestones of building entrepreneurship skills in teens.


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