In the book Disrupting Class, the authors talk about multiple types of intelligence not just IQ, which only measures one type of intelligence. The book goes onto to say that most public schools “have a very interdependent architecture, which mandates standardization.” Standardization that it is not going to be applicable to all student’s learning styles.
In the past, getting a college degree and getting a good job was the way to go until retirement. Now, with the advent of technology and the Internet, the sky’s the limit. Knowing that most of our children will be taught to think inside the box within most school systems, how does one teach their child to be an independent thinker and or how to think like an entrepreneur to allow this as an option for future career choices?
This has been weighing on my mind so much so that I decided to ask 4 independent thinkers who are paving the way in their fields and on the blogosphere to help answer this question:
How will you teach your child (to have the ability) to be an entrepreneur?
Marcus Sheridan of The Sales Lion says:
For me, in terms of teaching my kids to be entrepreneurs, I think it comes down to the fact that they’re so heavily involved in my work as it is.
In other words, when I travel, I try to take them (at least one) with me. I try to have conversations about what I do, how it makes (or loses) money, how I’m able to get ahead, and what I envision for the future.
For me, because my family is so tied to everything I do, I want them all to be aware of the state of my business. It is a major topic of conversation in our home. My daughter reads my blog posts. She is the only one old enough to really understand them, but the others will follow suit.
Also, we talk a lot in the home about money. Not about ‘getting rich’, but how it truly works. How banks work. How credit is good and bad. How hard work is critical, but smart work is even more important. And we also discuss mortgages, payments, etc.
I didn’t get that stuff growing up, and it was a little foreign to me once I left home. I want my kids to be prepared. I want them to know exactly what it took me to succeed. I want them to experience the journey with me.
And by so doing, if they elect to embrace entrepreneurship, then awesome.
Gini Dietrich’s of Spin Sucks says:
I’m not a parent. I do, however, have 14 nieces and nephews. And I’m an entrepreneur (twice over now).
Surely that makes me qualified to talk about why I think kids should think about entrepreneurship as a career.
Don’t get me wrong. Young professionals need some experience, especially if they’re going into a field that already exists (PR, in my case).
Every once in a while a Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates comes along. Not only did these guys not have any work experience before starting their companies, they didn’t finish college.
All-in-all it’s important to get a degree and some experience before going out to start the next big company.
When I started Arment Dietrich, I had a good 10 years of experience. But I had PR experience. I didn’t have business experience. And the lack of business experience really hurt me as we weathered the worst economy our country has seen since the Great Depression.
I didn’t know what a P&L was. I didn’t understand a balance sheet. I had no idea about the difference between accrual and cash flow.
I ran the business like I did my checking account: Some money went into savings, some money was spent on employee perks and client gifts, and the rest went into investment in the growth of the business. But I also made a very grave mistake. I allowed the bank heydays of 2006 and 2007 to suck me in and I borrowed more money than I knew I could afford.
We had a great time. Breakfast was brought in every morning. Employees had the best furniture. Wine:thirty every Friday.
And then the bottom fell out and the bank called the line. We’re still paying down that debt.
So my advice for children thinking about a career? Decide what you want to do, get a job and learn everything you can, about the industry, your particular specialty, and the business. Find a mentor outside of your company, but within an area where you know you’ll need extra advice. And then do it.
Take the risk. Start your own business. It’ll be the hardest, and most rewarding, thing you’ll ever do.
Erica Allison of Spot On says:
As the child, grandchild and great grandchild of many an entrepreneur, I can honestly say that I think being an entrepreneur is in my blood. It’s not that I was born into it, but rather it was born in me. My grandfather and my great grandfather were both farmers, you might say the original entrepreneur. My parents have been life-long business adventurers, beginning their lives together by running the family farm, and ultimately starting at least five more businesses in their 45 years as partners in crime.
Entrepreneurs are loosely defined as someone willing to start, organize and run any business or enterprise, usually with considerable risk and initiative. The outcome of their chosen enterprise rests squarely on their shoulders. Yep, that sounds familiar.
Does that mean my children will have that same ‘entrepreneurial’ gene? The odds are certainly in their favor, but is there anything that I can do to help it along?
Can entrepreneur skills be taught? Entrepreneur Magazine gives us a list of the top 25 of Undergraduate and Graduate Entrepreneurship programs. These are not new fads; Babson College goes back to 1967 with their program and earned the #1 spot on the list. So, yes, I think certain skills can be taught. The more important question to ask is “to whom are we teaching?”
Take my brother and me; we were raised in the same environment by the same parents. We both saw what it was like to run your own business and to be an entrepreneur; it was all around us. My brother chose to work in the family business for my parents; I chose to have my own business. I’ve had offers to work for other companies, but always go back to the entrepreneur path. Why?
It’s because, in my opinion, you’re either wired for it or you’re not. For some, the risk taking is an adventure and one that we see as being entirely possible and within the realm of reality. For others, that risk is far too great and well, just not worth it. Can we teach that second group to be an entrepreneur? I do not think we can. Can we teach the first one? I think we just enhance what they have – they’re already going to do what they’re going to do.
When I look at my children, I like to think I know what paths they’ll take when they grow up. I know as sure I’m sitting here, I can’t possibly know; I can only dream. Do I start the tutelage now? Do I wait to see more concrete examples of their personalities? What I do is exactly what my parents did with me.
I show them how it is – exactly how it is. I show them how to make do on the money in hand. I show them how to go for it if they have a dream. I show them the joys of doing what you love and the hard times when those things you love don’t always go as planned. I show them what it means to be responsible for your actions. But the most important thing of all that I can do for my little entrepreneurs? I can encourage them – in whatever path they choose.
John Falchetto says:
I want my daughter to stay curious. She is reaching an age where she is asking Why, what, how and I never want that to die in her.
Most of us quickly learn at school that teachers expect answers not questions. As a serial entrepreneur I believe the most important quality to develop is asking questions, because it forces us to dig deeper and discover new paths.
There you have it four of the blogosphere’s best. Now, how will you teach your children to be entrepreneurs?
Photo credit: emilyonasunday
Lemonade stand vintage: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jbcurio/3490346338/