How To Grow A Ceo

Developing the instincts for running a business starts at a very early age. Here's what the experts say can prepare your child to sit in the CEO's chair.

a force in the marketplace.

“Talk about business and business ownership,” he continues. “Take your child on a walk through the neighborhood, explain the difference between goods and services, look at who owns businesses and why, and help your child identify the skills it takes to run a business. Take them to seminars and expos, any place where economic development is the focus.”

Finally, Lawrence advises using the Internet to search for famous inventions and their inventors as well as biographies and autobiographies that will pique your child’s interest.

ENLIST THE HELP OF ROLE MODELS
According to Paul Roitman Bardack, vice president of One to One: The National Mentoring Partnership, based in Washington, D.C., entrepreneurial role models who can “engender personal self-confidence in the child and afford the youngster the opportunity to see what the business world is actually like” are also important. Foster-Grear agrees, believing that “children become what they see.”

She and her husband, Lance, who is the general manages of Foster Corp., expose their six-year-old daughter Noni not only to the operation of their business, but also to friends who are business owners as well as to other vendors. Often the little girl travels with her parents on business trips and to trade shows and networking events such as the Entrepreneurs Conference sponsored each year by Black Enterprise Unlimited and NationsBank.

This year, for instance, Noni was enrolled in B.E. Unlimited’s Kidpreneurs Konference, a three-day program that teaches the fundamentals of entrepreneurship. Because it parallels the Entrepreneurs Conference, children can engage in meaningful activities similar to, but separate from, what their folks are doing.

The Kidpreneurs Konference is broken into four sectors: Weepreneurs, for children ages four to six; Futurepreneurs, for ages seven to 10; Junior Executives, for ages 11-13; and Future CEOs, for 14-17-year-olds. “Each group learns the basics of starting and running a business, but in ageappropriate ways,” says Pat Crocker, B.E. Unlimited’s director of project development and strategic planning. In addition to hands-on activities, attendees get firsthand pep talks from successful role models such as Earl G. Graves, chairman and CEO of Earl G. Graves Publishing Co.; Karl Kani, president and CEO of Infinity; and Les Brown, motivational speaker and consultant.

James P. Comer, M.D., who consulted on the development of the Kidpreneurs Konference, feels the program addresses the fundamentals of effective learning. “The child is with someone who cares–the parents-and sees what they are doing–the modeling. The child also engages in self-expression through activities planned just for her, and receives constant reinforcement, again from her parents,” he says.
As further reinforcement, a companion newsletter, Kidpreneur News, published quarterly, showcases child-owned enterprises, offers ideas for seasonal and holiday businesses and explains the stock market and other facets of entrepreneurship.

“This level of exposure helps to change the mindset of young people to want to become owners and not just consumers,” says Melvin Crenshaw, program manager of the Kidpreneurs Konference. “As our tagline says, the idea is to help kids think big while they’re still small.”

Noni, who had fun at the conference because “we

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