Be open to entrepreneurship

By Ashford Gikunda

Entrepreneurs are not ordinary individuals. They are resilient, and hard-working people who bring ideas to life. Entrepreneurs turn passion into projects. It is therefore vital for parents to raise entrepreneurial minded children. 

Margot Machol, in her book, “Raising an Entrepreneur,” interviewed 70 parents about how they helped their children achieve their dreams of becoming entrepreneurs. The author noted that specific knowledge, at an early age, plays a big role in a child’s future business acumen. Here are three reasons why Ms Machol feels it is critical for parents to inculcate entrepreneurship skills into their children at a young age.

1. Responsibility and accountability

The parents all stressed the importance of responsibility and accountability. They wanted their kids to take ownership, fix problems, learn from mistakes and be more confident as they got older. You can always review your child’s homework, point at the mistakes and let the child fix them.

John Arrow dropped out of college a few credits before he graduated to start Mutual Mobile, a technology company that has generated more than $200 million in revenue.

When he was in fifth grade, he and his friends embarked on production of a school newspaper, which sold out immediately. But they failed to do the fact-checking. The principal was furious, and his friends got in trouble with their parents. But John’s parents laughed and told him to fix his mistakes.

“Knowing my parents would support me, even when an authority was against me, made me double down and work harder to show them they were right to believe in me,” John said.

2. No “free cash”

Ms Machol spoke to parents from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds, many of whom taught their children the value of money. Even the more affluent kids, she said, had to work to spend money.

Nyla Rodgers is the founder of Mama Hope, a non-profit organisation that funds and advocates for general public. When Ms Rodgers was in high school, she wanted to go for an academic tour. To her mum, she had to earn half the cost of the trip. With no other choice, she babysat, mowed lawns, walked dogs, taught swimming and did data entry.

“I worked 15 hours a day, seven days a week to raise the money. By the end of the summer, I’d raised enough to go. That’s what started my entrepreneurial journey,” she said.

3. “No after-school activities until your grades improve.”

Many of the parents the writer talked to didn’t understand their kids’ passions, but they all gave them a lot of time to dive into it. While some pursued their passion in addition to being great students, others simply followed their passion. 

The story of Jon Chu, director of blockbuster hits like “Crazy Rich Asians,” rings a bell. Chu had a passion for making movies from the time he was in second grade. His immigrant parents ran a restaurant, and they hoped he would achieve the American dream by working hard, but it never occurred to them it could
be in film.

One day, Chu’s mum became upset when his son was in high school. She found him working on a video instead of his homework. “But this is what I love! I want to do it my whole life,” Chu explained, in tears.

The next day, his mum surprised him with filmmaking books, and said, “If you want to do this,” she said, “study it, and be the best at it.”  

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