What Parents Should Know About Young Entrepreneurship

by Danie Jacobs.

Parents should focus on enhancing the entrepreneurial mindset in their children — a skill that is increasingly important as young people must become less dependent on the formal job market and fend more and more for themselves in a crowded, harsh world, and as the freelance economy grows.


To be clear, raising entrepreneurial kids doesn’t mean trying to grow a Steve Jobs. Instead, it’s about deliberately fostering an entrepreneurial mentality. Regardless of what your kids grow up to do, they’ll need an entrepreneurial skill set in order to do it well. If parents don’t personally identify with the term “entrepreneur,” they should not talk themselves out of facilitating these experiences for their children. They are simple and any parent can do them. The good news is that according to research, the entrepreneurial mindset relates to attributes and behaviors that can be learned, practiced and passed on. Even if your child does not continue with an existing business, or never starts a business, these qualities will make them more employable. What are they you may ask? Well for starters the following are non-negotiable: Resilience; Communication; Innovation & Creativity; Independence & Accountability; Diligence; Curiosity; (Self) Confidence; Empathy; Optimism; Financial Literacy, and; Teamwork. With that, here are three lessons that parents should remember:


  1. Failure is not a bad thing

Life is full of setbacks, and developing a thick skin is essential to getting on in life. Every entrepreneur needs resilience and determination to get up when they suffer a blow. Business is fraught with ups and downs. The best entrepreneurs can attest to that. Parents can cultivate the traits of successful entrepreneurs by taking the sting out of failure and stop teaching that failure is bad. Yes, we strive for our children to be the best. Achieving high marks in school, earning first place in sport or winning at a science fair are all important and admirable goals. More important, however, is how we teach our children to fail, because they will fail at something at some point, and as most business leaders will tell you, failure is common and indeed necessary on the road to success. In school we were all taught that failure is bad. In the entrepreneurial arena, failure can be a great thing if a positive lesson is learned. Whether in sports, school or social activities, children’s early mistakes can help them prepare for the realities of the business world. Allowing your children to fail will force them to create new ways to accomplish their goals and learn from their mistakes. This will lead to confident children who know how to persevere when times are tough.

2. Your Involvement is critical

Researchers have long understood that parental involvement deeply shapes a child’s personal, intellectual, emotional, and academic development. After all, most young children spend an enormous amount of time with their parents and guardians. It probably feels like much more, but in reality, kids spend less than 15% of their time in school. New research also shows parents play a huge influence in determining a child’s work ethic and habits. This means that how you talk to your kids about your work and job, including your satisfaction (or lack thereof) with it, directly shapes the ideas about work that your children are likely to adopt. Research also shows that conversation itself gives kids an advantage. Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education found that parental conversation shapes “academic socialization,” setting kids’ expectations, and helping them draw connections between current behavior and future goals. In the end, many entrepreneurs say the most important thing that inspired and motivated them to achieve entrepreneurial success is the influence they had from their parents. They learned most of what they know from their parents who led by example.

3. It’s not only about the money

It is not all about the money. The art of giving back creates happiness. While it may not help the bottom line, entrepreneurs understand the importance of social responsibility. True visionaries want to make the world better for everyone and the most successful and happy people on earth give back to society. It is important for your children to develop the characteristic of helping others. This attribute will allow your children to stay humble during periods of great success and it will give them the insight that a successful business provides benefits to more than just its owner. People that contribute to the success of others live happy and content lives.

Parents should expose their young entrepreneurs to those less fortunate and sensitize them to the value of helping others. Life is not always about you, your needs and your comfort. Life is also about leaving the world a better place than you found it. People who contribute to the success of others contribute to their own success and live a happy, more fulfilled life.





Danie Jacobs is the Founder of Young Entrepreneurs  based in South Africa.  The organization runs programs designed to teach entrepreneurial, financial literacy, employability and work readiness skills to children aged 7-18.