Entrepreneurs start young. At 12, Tony Hsieh sold customized
photo buttons by mail. He went on to found an advertising network
and sell it to Microsoft, and now he's CEO of billion-dollar shoe
Jenny Craig (yes, she's real!) got her start at 7 catching hard
shell crabs and selling them for a penny apiece. In 2006 she sold
her weight loss empire to Nestle for $600 million. If you are lucky
enough to parent a budding business tycoon, get ready for
Given a little space and encouragement, kids can amaze us with
their ingenuity and drive. Here are four traits of highly
entrepreneurial kids and ways for parents to nurture their natural
1 Entrepreneurial kids use their imagination.
Entrepreneurs are an imaginative bunch, so all of those picture
books and arty-crafty projects might pay off some day. Encourage
children to think creatively about things outside of story time and
the art room, too. Play games, break routines and discuss
everything. Don't worry when your child challenges the status quo.
Big thinkers always do. And lay off the over-scheduling. Sports,
music lessons and play dates are great, but young entrepreneurs
need time to wonder. They need mental space to plan those big
2 Mini-moguls are smooth negotiators. Whether
over bedtimes or allowance, most kids naturally learn to negotiate.
Your budding entrepreneur might be especially skillful. Instead of
getting frustrated, look for ways to direct these skills
3 Kid entrepreneurs are involved. The
stereotypical tycoon may be all about the money, but the most
successful businesses are based on unique solutions to a specific
human problem. To come up with the best ideas, you need to think
about others. Get kids involved in the wider community through
civic groups and charitable projects. Doing so will help them gain
insight into life beyond their own. It also lays a solid foundation
for networking. People do business with people they know and like.
Networking might just be the most undervalued business skill. Kids
who learn this early on will be ahead of most of their competition
by the time they get to college.
4 Biz kids find mentors. Help children find
entrepreneurs to emulate-the younger the mentor, the better. A
one-time experience will be helpful, but an ongoing relationship is
even better. Television is another great source for business role
models. Counterintuitive, perhaps, but reality shows give kids
insight into worlds they otherwise would never see. Sure, the vast
inventory of reality shows are made of human suffering, but a
number of them are surprisingly informative, even inspirational.
Set the DVR for The Apprentice, Fashion Star or Cake Boss. Then sit
back with a snack and watch your child's inner capitalist
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