A child's identity development for business does not manifest out of the blue, for the most part. Some very important experiences are needed. A mentor or model perhaps? Sure, a mentor or model will helps them develop confidence to become a salesperson and will point our quickly the efforts that will fail to produce a profit. A family with money, maybe? Money would certainly help, but it is not necessary. What, then, is the characteristic most need to become a successful entrepreneur?
My suggestion is based on my experience working with parents, who provided retroactive information about their successful adult children when they were children, as well as from conversations with people who run successful businesses. What is the key? The key is to develop an early set of experiences for the child that allow a child to express a seller's behavior.
This is only logical. How did Tiger Woods become a great golfer at such a young age? He started early. How did Michael Jackson become a great performer? He started early. How did most computer software developers and business leaders become successful? They started early. How do many adults become alcoholics? They start early.
The family is a system of expectations and values that promote certain behaviors. In my book, The Story of L.O.V.E., I give the example of a successful business owner who, as a nine-year old child living in Mexico, took the initiative to rent Soap Opera Story Books to people who stood in a long line at a local pharmacy while his other business of selling mangos taken from his family's tree was being run by his friend. He started early and his family system promoted his behavior. One behavior led to the other.
The question is then, what do you want to promote through your family's expectations? The advent of video games and the many hours spent on the games do not give a clear benefit to a child's development into adulthood. It can be argued that there is little financial benefit as an adult since there is little correlation between level of creativity and game play. Take a moment to compute the hours lost in video gaming. Here's a hypothetical year of the typical child's video game use.
10-hrs a week x 52-weeks = 520 hours/24 hours = 21.67 days (invested in video game play?)
As with video games, the same can be said to be true with sports. While it has a benefit in neurocognitive development and neurogenesis, there is the improbable benefit to the family that the child will grow up to be a major league player and earn a very
decent living. The most logical answer is to develop the child into a creator of critical observations and solutions. Learning the rules of a game is a start, but does not capture the true dynamic of living a successful life. Sports will teach your child to develop grit and persist, but to create takes practice, and our schools do not function in this capacity. The child must rely on you. What if the 22 days were invested into something that is easily generalizable to business and successful work?
What to do about it? That's a tough solution. An example of a possible solution comes from Mexico, and the needs of the majority economically poor. For those who are unfamiliar, in Mexico, there are children, as young as five years old, who are sent by their parents to sell to tourists in restaurants or on the side streets of heavily trafficked areas. The children sell gum, and are often rewarded with extra change from the heart-felt tourist. I am not advocating the same behavior for U.S. children, but in similar vein. Start them young in managing a lemonade stand, or with selling chocolate for fund raising. Be creative. Just today, I saw a family put their table up by Willie B's BBQ to sell Girl Scout Cookies. Sadly, though, on another such fund-raising drive for a local school, I saw only one adolescent girl selling chocolate in my neighborhood, when there are dozens who could do the same.
Benefits? It will help the child manage and lose their anxiety of selling to another person. A growth in confidence that they can be successful in small efforts, which will snowball into larger efforts with greater successes as an adult. It will help the child understand business and money, and what it takes to start a business in the U.S.'s economic system. It will also help your child understand the idea of taxes, and help them build stamina for their future efforts.
Doesn't seem like a bad way to invest three-weeks in a year, huh?