a variety of populations. Indeed, Junior Achievement, long the standard-bearer for entrepreneurial training of the young, has been making a renewed effort to grow its program in black communities. It is currently partnering or in partnership negotiations with national organizations like the Black MBAs and 100 Black Men to improve its outreach to African American children, particularly in urban schools.
Like Junior Achievement, the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership also has a number of school-based programs designed to teach entrepreneurial skills to children of all ages. For example, the Mini-Society, for youngsters in kindergarten through the sixth grade, integrates entrepreneurship concepts and explores business ownership, financing and decision making in the normal school curriculum.
DEVELOP THE RIGHT ATTITUDE
For Marilyn Kourilsky, Ph.D., a former professor at UCLA and now vice president of the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, there is yet another useful element in encouraging children. She advises parents to encourage individuality rather than conformity in their children, and to help them develop an “opportunity focus.”
“Parents need to help their child see that problems are really disguised opportunities,” Kourilsky says. She also suggests giving the child what she calls a “customer focus,” or “other” orientation. A good way to do this is “if the child is going to have a guest, ask him or her what they intend to do to make sure their guest has a good time,” she says. This kind of modeling can begin as soon as the child is old enough to play.
Just as important, children should learn to believe in themselves. This means adults have to take children who choose to be entrepreneurs seriously. “If the child is selling a pencil, he’s done the same work as anyone else in terms of calculating costs and profits,” says Ed Menifee, sponsor, founder and director of the Southwest Atlanta Youth Business Organization (SWAYBO). “Therefore. if he’s selling something for $6, don’t try to get it for $2.”
Finally, children also need to develop a way to deal with failure. Jack Mariotti, director of finance at the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, a New York-based organization targeting entrepreneurial programs to urban and at-risk youth, points to one of the mottos his organization espouses: “It’s the business that fails, not the business owner.” Thus, failure is not a place to stop, but a place to regroup, according to Mariotti. Good advice, since, according to statistics, the average entrepreneur fails 3.8 times before succeeding.
So what happens if you work diligently to inspire entrepreneurial endeavor m your child and he or she decides tha
t a “9 to 5” is better? Even if your child is exposed to the idea of entrepreneurship and chooses another path, at least “we will have given them something else in their armor that helps them face the world,” says Waters of EDTEC. “And we will have become the incubator for future generations of entrepreneurs.”
Support For Your Future CEO
You’ll find plenty of resources available
to help you develop the entrepreneurial spirit in your child. Here are a few:
The Center for Teen Entrepreneurs