What Will My Child Learn From Entrepreneurship?

It's a great question. If I spend my hard earned dollars and place my child in an Entrepreneurship Program, rather than something else, perhaps more conventional, what will they learn? What will they get out of it?

It really is a great question, but it also really depends. Here is what I mean:

Meet Jake. Jake is an incredible kid that we had the pleasure of working with last fall in our KidPreneur Programming. Jake is full of energy, ideas and was excited about what he was about to embark upon. This was Jake's first semester with us.

During his first program, Jake commented in his interview that he loved building a business. He liked working with money and he liked designing his product, which was a dog leash. "That's great", you might be saying. Jake had fun. But what did he get out of it? What did her learn?

For that answer, we could ask his parents. In their interview, they were so happy to find a program that Jake took an interest in, as well as ownership of. He wasn't a big into sports or other conventional kid activities. This was something where he could express himself, make BIG decisions and see the fruits of his labour, not just in money, but in reactions from the general public, his peers and his own internal satisfaction.

How do we know so much? Aside from the obvious answer that we try to ask each student and parent for feedback and insight, we know because Jake came back to take the same program again and this time he did things differently.

His first product, dog leashes, was at the higher end of the price range at $12. For that reason, he noticed that he didn't sell quite as much as some of his fellow classmates whose products were in the $3-$8 range. He also noticed that the food items were selling out at most booths. With observations like these, he rolled up his sleeves and made a plan.

Jake's Giant Cookies were born and THIS business was a HIT! His GIANT Cookies were one of the first booth's to sell out and that was as much as any entrepreneur could hope for.

At Build a Biz Kids, we know that our students are more receptive when other students teach them, as opposed to adults, so whenever possible we try to create opportunities for that to happen. When a student returns for a second or third semester, we offer them the opportunity to choose a class where they feel they can add the most value and teach a portion of class. Jake LOVED Market Day, which is interesting because he didn't do as well as he had hoped the first time around, but he learned a lot and was keen to share it. He spoke of how to prepare for the day, what to bring and so on, as well as how to talk to customers to get a sale. The advice was great for the other students to hear but what an incredible opportunity for Jake to be a mentor in his class.

So, when a parent asks us, what will my child learn, it really is hard to say. We can answer with things like financial literacy, problem solving, public speaking, build confidence and leadership, but it really depends on your child. Each student loves a different aspect of class, a different stage in building a business. Some love the creative outlet in product design and marketing, others love the challenge of speaking with the general public and seeing what reactions they can get out of them. Others just love the idea of making their own money. But they always learn something. EVERY Child pulls real world life skills and builds resilience that can carry them through into any activity they venture into in life.

That is what this program is about. It doesn't matter if your child becomes an entrepreneur when they grow up. That's not the point. The point is the give them the space to make decisions that impact, for better or worse, something they care about. Something they are calling the shots on and taking full ownership of. This is life. We are just exposing them to it a little earlier in a safe environment rather than thrusting them into it after high school graduation when real debt and consequences can be more significant.

 


Never Tell Your Child They Are Smart

That's right! No catch. No bait and switch. Truly, never tell your child they are smart.

I, like many parents, have an innate fear that I will screw up my child in some way. One day, I will say that one thing that completely screws them up. I will be having a bad day, my patience will be low and BAM. It will fly out of my mouth and I will never be able to take it back. Their confidence will plummet, they will throw it back at me when they are 18 and angry at me, and any sadness they have, I know it will because I failed them that day.

Well, that may happen, but I have something significantly more scary to share with you. In fact, you have almost with certainty, already "screwed" them up and it was during a moment that you were calm, thoughtful and even fully conscious of the words coming out of your mouth. You deliberately said these words with the intention of helping them, boosting their confidence and making them smile.

One of the greatest books I have read on parenting is not really a parenting book at all. It's called Mindset and it's by Carol Dweck. I read this book upon recommendation by someone I trust and it is one that I believe every parent, employer/boss, teacher or influencer of any kind should read. In fact, even if you are not an influencer to others, you are to yourself. You determine your own values, self worth and potential. The trouble is, most of these "decisions" that you made around these topics, were suggested to you by others, and you adopted them to heart.

Do you remember that time they got an A in spelling and you told them how smart they are?
Or what about that time she hit the baseball and got a home run and you told them they were the best player that day?
Oh, and what about that time he did that school play and you told them, "you're a natural! I can't believe how great you are at that. I am so proud of you!"

Well, If you have said any of the previous statements, you have screwed up your kids. Crazy right?!?! I know! It scared the poop out of me so I wanted to understand why.

To save my typing and missing some key points, I very strongly encourage you to watch the video below. It is a summary of a study on Praise for Intelligence vs Praise for Effort and the INSTANT ramifications of it. If you have a Fixed mindset yourself, which most of us do, this will be troubling. But if you have or want to develop a Growth Mindset, you will find this incredibly empowering and want to learn more.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWv1VdDeoRY

This was such a simple study that was all done in one day that had such dramatic results, for better or worse. Can you imagine days, weeks and months of this subtle change in praise and the positive results that could come if they heard it from teachers, coaches and of course, parents?

Build a Biz Kids trains our facilitators in a growth mindset and are continuing to learn more and more about our impact on students. We would like to encourage the parents of our students to join us in learning and practicing the subtle difference and see the incredible results.

My son would often give up very early on projects and not want to strive to go the extra mile on something like handmade birthday cards, school projects, and yes, even his business when taking our program. But once we discovered that some of this lack of effort might actually be our fault, we made a change, and the results were immediate!

Last week he, not only sat with no iPad or TV in the background, he completed his first ever model airplane. He painted and glued and and did everything he could until he had to wait for everything to dry. He even had a bit of a meltdown when he thought he broke a piece but the next time he was home with time to work on it, he couldn't wait to get back to it! Now he is looking to find the perfect model car to take on next.

We still catch ourselves when talking about how he played at baseball or in his school play wanting to tell him how amazing the results were, but we are getting faster and faster to catch ourselves and praise him on the effort he put into going to baseball practice each day; working really hard on remembering his lines for the play by reciting them in the car on the way to school and how impressed we are by the effort and creativity it took for him to come up with such unique ideas for his handmade birthday cards.

While not everyone in his life may understand fixed vs growth mindset or praising on effort rather than results, as parents, it starts at home. To date, this has been one of the most important blogs we have written and we really hope you will watch the video above to learn more. I really hope you will read the Book Mindset as well. We get zero dollars by promoting it.

Lastly, we hope that you realize that as a parent, an employee, as a friend, an artist, an entrepreneur and all of the other titles you hold, you, too, may have a fixed mindset based on fixed praise and values you were given as a child, and even as an adult. But with awareness and persistence, you can reprogram yourself to want more, do more, and have greater confidence to take on new challenges.

We wish you growth


Trial & Error

Have we forgotten how to let kids fail?

I always want to teach my son how to do everything in the most efficient way. I struggle to stop myself from correcting him before he begins. There is a quote from the developmental psychologist Gordon Neufeld “Never do for a child what a child believes they can do for themselves.” Although I believe this quote speaks to a greater need of empowering our children, it also touches on how the process of trial and error is a powerful learning tool.

In the idea stage of our program, everyone is an expert. They know exactly what their product will look like, what steps to take to make that product and how easy it will be. However, come prototype day, there is a lot of learning. The ingredients were hard to find, the process took longer than expected, there was an issue with the way the materials combined and now our KidPreneurs have to find a solution.

Exhibit A, one of the greatest soap mixing entrepreneurs of our time! Or in other words, my son who wants to make soap as his business idea for his program.

For weeks he went back and forth on which Pintrest soap he wanted to try and recreate and how it would look, feel, and smell. But while shopping for ingredients, he discovered there are way more options for colours, smells and ingredients (shea butter vs. goats milk, lavender vs cinnamon, red vs red and blue swirl) and everything was in it's raw form which looks a lot different than his Pintrest wall.  Every decision he makes on these ingredients will impact the final product. He had to figure out which combination would produce the vision he had in his mind and was determined to create.

After making his careful selection, he took his ingredients home to experiment. Even though this budding entrepreneur loves the process of experimenting and exploring, he was disappointed his first batch of soap looked nothing like the image he has held in his mind for weeks. The colors didn't mix right and the soap had bubbles and an uneven finish. So began the work of trouble shooting and refining the process.

Perhaps mixing the colors into the soap and then pouring into the molds will work best. The white soap is thicker than the clear soap so maybe it needs to be heated longer. What about a 2 color swirl effect?

He was much more satisfied with his second bath of soap and seeing how a new technique could change the outcome.

I firmly believe that if the first iteration of soap was exactly as planned, our KidPreneur would have missed an exciting opportunity for personal growth. What he learned through through this process is a level of confidence that he can find a way to achieve his vision with enough time, thought and a second attempt.

What every entrepreneur should hold dear is the notion that any vision is possible if they are willing to put in the time and effort for trial and error. If we can show kids that the greatest reward comes after effort and tenacity, then imagine how much more of the world they will get to experience.


"So What??"

Our KidPreneurs have had an exciting couple of weeks exploring business ideas by looking at how businesses are started. They have experience taking their passions & interests or solving a day to day problem and turning them into a business.

So What?

Our KidPreneurs have built their confidence by discovering their innate ability to be creative solution oriented thinkers.

So What?

Catching on? This is an exercise that we play with the kids to help them see past the features and into the benefits to really get to the core of why someone would want to buy their product. If you go deep enough with this exercise, you can get down the the real "WHY" you are building your business and attract customers who feel the same way.

This stage of the program reminds me of the famous work by Simon Sinek called “Start With Why.” In his work, Simon highlights that brands who understand the reason they do what they do have greater success in attracting customers and brand loyalty.

Our exercise looked like this;

So you have decided to make a bar of soap that has toys inside… So What?

- "So it looks cool"

So your bar of soap looks cool… so what?

- "So kids think the toy in the soap is cool"

So Kids think the toy in your bar of soap is cool… so what?

- "So kids are more likely to wash their hands to get the toy"

And there it is. You’ve made a product that has features that kids like such as cool colours, toys, etc with a benefit for parents…kids will want to wash their hands.

The Features and Benefits lesson was a lot of fun with these KidPreneurs. They are getting very excited to talk about their products with customers at the upcoming Market Day on November 24th at Henderson Place Mall from Noon – 4:00 PM.

Don't be afraid to ask them "why" or dig deep into their product features and benefits. It's great practice for them as they hone in on their sales pitch.

They hope to see you there!


OH! What If .....???

“Oh! What if….?”

The most amazing part about working with kids is that they have yet to learn what the box is and are not limited to what ideas are “in the box” or “out of the box” thinking.

Only two weeks into our after-school program launch and I’ve found a new favorite phrase. “Oh! What if….?” It’s a phrase that comes with bright excited eyes and usually the student is bouncing a little in their chair. This phrase “oh! What if….?” Is the beginning of possibility and an exercise in creative showcasing.

Problem solving is a creative process and, in our KidPreneur programming, we focus on seeing problems as opportunities to be creative. In yesterday’s class we presented several everyday problems like spilled milk, muddy dog paws, sand on the beach towel and muffins that stick to the wrapper. In teams, the kids began to develop new innovative products to address these problems. Once the kids got a few safe ideas out of the way and were over the fear of being “wrong” the energy in the room began to soar as ideas began to flow.

“We can’t think of anything to clean a dog’s muddy paws”, quickly became “Oh! What if we had socks the dog could wear!”

That’s when the ideas began to flow “Oh! What if we had a brush that sprayed water to get the mud off….. Oh! What if it included a soap dispenser…? Oh! What if it also attached to a hose… Oh! And what if it also blew bubbles to entertain the dog… Oh! Or what if it dispenses a dog treat…”

I anticipate that I will have a new favorite phrases and parts of the program every week but for now, I am inspired by watching these kids discover their creative authority as they take ownership of their ideas a present them to the class. As the kids left for the day, there was an excitement and anticipation for the opportunities in front of them and I could tell the thoughts of “oh! What if…?” was going home with them and I hope this empowerment stays with these KidPreneurs long after the program.