Encouraging a young entrepreneur

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New Zealand is ranked as the easiest place in the world to start a business, according to a 2012 World Bank survey. So how do you get your kids on board?

While there is a push to teach more financial literacy in New Zealand schools thanks to initiatives such as ASB’s Get Wise programme, there appears to be a gap in teaching business skills, at least at a young age.

The traditional model of a university degree followed by a stable job and a steady progression up the career ladder has become out-dated says entrepreneur Lindy Abittan. A lot of students who graduate from top universities struggle for months to find a decent job, and often end up with one outside of their field of study. But if children are taught from a young age how to create their own opportunities, they can make their own way in the world.

1) Goal setting
Studies show that written goals are more than 80 per cent more likely to be achieved. Help your kids learn how to identify their goals and write them down. It could be to earn enough money to buy a new tablet, or to raise start-up money for a small business. Get your kids to use the S.M.A.R.T system to organise their goals – they should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.

2) Look for opportunities
Lots of people in life never live to their full potential because they see only problems, not opportunities. Teaching your kids to turn a problem into an opportunity will not only help them to build resistance, but also to have a mindset compatible with entrepreneurship. When your child has a problem, help them come up with creative, positive solutions. How can they reach items on the high shelf? What can they do about the homework that they lost? At the very least, life’s problems are learning opportunities. This will help your kids to see that every problem has a solution, and that they can have an impact rather than accepting the negative as fact.

3) Trade is a part of everyday life
The ability to sell is an invaluable life skill. Whether your child is a natural-born sales person or not, the ability to build a case for an idea, a service, or a product will set them up well for life. Maybe they can start by selling their old toys on TradeMe – what would they write to sell Big Ted? There’s the classic lemonade stand in summer time, or perhaps offering pet washing services. They’ll need to work out what is a fair price for their service or product, and how to convince people to buy.

4) Financial literacy
Once your little munchkin has made a few dollars towards their goal, they are going to quickly learn a lesson or two about the value of money. This is a great opportunity to teach them more about money, and a solid grasp of financial management is essential to successful entrepreneurship. Educate them about how to invest to grow their savings, and how that money can be used in the future. Let them set up a bank account and learn how to budget their income. Help them to think creatively about ways to build their income.

5) Failure is not a bad thing
We’re schooled to avoid failure at all costs – unfortunately, that leads to risk-adverse tendencies, which is a death blow to entrepreneurship. In actuality, you can learn more through failure than you ever will through success. Napoleon Hill, author of Think And Grow Rich, believes that, “Every failure carries with it a seed of equal or greater benefit.” Allowing your children to fail will force them to create new ways to accomplish their goals. Just don’t let them give up – it’s essential that they “get back on the horse.” This will lead to confident children who know how to persevere when times are tough.