Behind the success of some of our favorite young innovators like Scholly App Founder Christopher Gray and Beauty Entrepreneur Zandra Azariah Cunningham, are the parents and caretakers who helped them navigate their entrepreneurial journey.
Despite the successful outcomes promoted through different media outlets, it’s a different world for both parents and kids behind the scenes. Between juggling competing priorities at school and their business, these young CEO’s are also dealing with the emotions that come with being a teenager. Meanwhile their parents are managing their day jobs and needs of other family members.
When Tamara Z. Lewis realized her 9 years old daughter Zandra Azariah Cunningham, was serious about growing her beauty business, she sprung into action by enrolling her in several entrepreneurship programs such as, Kids Biz Small Business Development Center program at Buffalo State University.
Now, 14 years old Zara Cunningham is the CEO of Zandra Beauty, “Fun, Fresh Natural Bath + Body products for the Educated + Empowered Girl on the Move!”
While her mom works as the Chief Operations Officer (COO) for the innovative product line. Black Enterprise caught up with her Momager and dad for their best parenting advice on raising a young CEO.
What advice can you give parents on raising a young entrepreneur?
I would challenge parents to keep an open mind, introduce many possibilities and to do their research. Once you realize your child has a serious interest, take the time to expose them to the different things they can do with that gift or hobby. Try not to limit their view of how grand an idea can be. With Zandra we really want to support her all around. It’s our job to make sure she stays focused and enjoys being in high school.
There will be challenges–good, bad and ugly days but you must stay focused on the purpose. It’s our job to protect then at all cost. Encourage breaks so your child doesn’t become overwhelmed. I am crazy proud of Zandra. She has an amazing drive and really has something she wants to share with the world. Her dad and I are blessed tremendously.
What sacrifices do you think parents need to make when encouraging a young child to pursue a business venture?
Sacrifice is a huge part of parenting in general. When you add on the support and creativity necessary to push a young businessperson, it comes at a whole new level. I would say time is our biggest sacrifice because we have other children and growing a business is a huge commitment and requires much time. We had to be creative with how we involve all the children, making it more of a family business. I also had to learn that it’s not about me, but about Zandra. She has a strong will and I had to learn how to not only be her mother but also her manager. Which is why I am referred to as her Momager. There is a careful balance, but of course mom trumps all.
What are some ugly truths about preparing kids for entrepreneurship?
I don’t want anyone to think this is easy. There will be tears of rejection, exhaustion and misunderstanding. When you decide to subject your child to the adult world of business or business in general you must make sure they are prepared for it. Zandra is now used to being the only kid in the room, but that was a very intimidating space for her initially. When a young entrepreneur wants to sit at the table, they will be expected to bring the same level of expertise as the adults on the other side.
Do you have any tips on raising a young mogul? Leave me a comment below.