Long story short, we think kids with entrepreneurial tendencies are pretty cool. Curious, adventurous and fearless, they filter the world differently. And I can't think of a more hopeful future than one built by people who started thinking like entrepreneurs before hitting a double digit age. Just imagine the possibilities for the future of not only business, but also education, government, science, technology, the arts. Entrepreneurship is not only a way to think and make decisions, but also a way to contribute.
With that said, the Bea is for Business team exudes passion around the idea that entrepreneurship is served best when a child (or an adult, for that matter) can be exactly who he or she is. Teach them to be who they are versus trying to be someone else; encourage them to use their strengths or what they like to do or be; then, you (parents or teachers) watch how they run with an entrepreneurial spirit.
The creation of the second Bea is for Business book got our team thinking about five easy ways to inspire or reach out to an entrepreneurial kid.
1. Inspire them to be creative, make something, and to own every part of the process from brainstorming to "product" development to presentation. This could be building a city from cardboard, creating artwork, writing a short play, or producing a quick video. Give them some space to be creative, "manage" the different stages, and do some cool work that's theirs. What's great about this is this activity could fill 10 minutes, 45 minutes, or a couple hours.
2. Create a game versus just play game. I know it feels like the oldest, Little House on the Prairie trick in the book. BUT, here's what we love about it -- in creating a game, they activate leadership skills on a very manageable scale. Someone will inevitably need to step up to create the game and the object of the game, collaborate with others over reasonable rules that pull from previous experiences or games, and then just freakin' play and see if it works. What's great about this is this can happen indoors or outdoors.
3. As throwback as it sounds, encourage kids to go play outdoors. (Note: please only do so if age and/or location is appropriate and safe.) We'd like to hope the increase in fresh oxygen intake will activate a kid's ability to stumble upon new ideas. But, as 30-something adults, what we're aware of more than anything is that the days of heading outside and figuring out an activity have been replaced with a lot of technology. When, in reality, it's a metaphor for life sometimes. You just have to head outside and figure it out. We say start that young.
4. Work with your child to create safe, but impactful challenges. One of our favorites challenges includes building obstacle courses with lily pads to jump across, ground-level balance beams, jumps, or specific physical tasks. This works for two reasons: we encourage you/them to use resources you already own versus buying new toys or supplies, and you're working together to create a new, unique opportunity that's built to challenge someone else. A natural byproduct of this is, of course, evaluation and feedback: Why did it work or not work? Was it too challenging? What would make it easier? What would make it more memorable or more unique challenge?
5. Get them to talk about it or -- even better -- get them to present about it. Our family has stacks of VHS tapes with our Christmases, first days of school, Halloweens -- but also trial versions and dress rehearsals of voice recital songs, original plays, radio broadcasts, and class president speeches. Mom or Dad would record a practice round that we could play back or redo. Coaches record practices; it only makes sense to encourage dress rehearsals of presentations, pitches, or projects with playback, too. What makes this entrepreneurial? The most consistent battle in entrepreneurship is getting people on board with a solid, enrolling, professional presentation. It only makes sense that this becomes the standard for the next generation.
There are some consistencies among the opportunities on this list: Kids will make their own decisions, someone will need to emerge as the leader to own the process or project, and they'll need to work with others on a team. And our biggest consistency for parents or teachers: You/the kids can use materials or resources you already own. The last thing we want is for you to have to go out and buy anything else for any of the aforementioned ideas. These combined consistencies teach creativity, leadership and resourcefulness which we know are hallmarks of responsible business. Responsible, entrepreneurial leadership in the future C-suites of America? That's pretty cool, too.
DISCLAIMER: Meg Seitz is a founding partner and co-author of "Bea is for Business", a platform dedicated to teaching young people (ages 5-9) business principles. For more information, visit www.beaisforbusiness.com