If you are the parent of a toddler or teen, the chances are you find yourself in a negotiating situation on a very regular basis. Children at this stage in their development are very focused and passionate about their goals. From wanting to watch Bob the Builder at 5 in the morning, to not wanting to come home much before 5 in the morning - children are vocal, committed, resourceful and entrepreneurial about what they want and how to get it. Mummy doesn't want to get out of bed to switch the DVD player on at that time? No problem - little people can learn how to do that! Dad doesn't want to chauffeur their offspring around in the early hours - no worries, this teen has every single other local parent on speed dial, and some great sales and networking tactics to ensure that he or she doesn't miss the party.
Whatever sort of parent and family you are, you are probably raising entrepreneurs - but they, and we, don't always realise it. With recent research showing that the companies that create the most jobs in the UK are less than five years old, families may want to encourage their children to consider careers in start-ups - or even launch one. Encouraging entrepreneurial skills such as independence, self-motivation and resilience will help your child in business and in life.
Try these 5 tips to harness your child's natural entrepreneurship.
1. Show me the sweat - and I'll show you the money. Most children want something (that you are happy for them to have): a new toy, a bit of time on the computer to play a game, attendance at a social event. Harness this desire and you have a major incentive to get them working for it. By setting them a chore, and expecting it to be done to a particular standard (please actually clean the dogs' bowls when you feed him), you are teaching your children the link between negotiation (I want something so how do I get it?) and investment (my parents pay me, give me a lift to the party once I've done it).
2. Let them get bored. We've all read the reports suggesting that children don't get enough downtime and feel stressed, or don't get to experience boredom and stretch their imaginations. A lack of scheduling - and its companion, boredom, allows children to have the time and space they need to create new ideas for activities of their own. Many a boring start to a Summer holiday has launched a table top sale, car washing company or paper round.
3. Give them alternatives. Not all children are A Grade students, or happy in a classroom setting. Show them alternatives to life at school and University and what awaits them when they leave, and allow them to pursue their passions. Entrepreneurial roles in start-up businesses aren't just about classroom-based skills. Sherry Coutu, one of the UK's most prolific serial entrepreneurs and investors, concurs: "It's critical to show children where the future jobs are, and let them know that it's a clear and attainable path for them to get there."
4. Get them in front of an inspirational role model. Founders4Schools is part of a partnership, which has launched a major effort to help teachers connect the curriculum to careers in technology and enterprise. As part of an ecosystem that includes leading UK organisations such as Kano (the start-up which creates computer and coding kits for all ages) and Raspberry Pi Foundation (who brought us the credit card sized computer aimed at children and schools), Founders4Schools has launched CREATE! to encourage teachers across the UK to promote entrepreneurship and innovation to their students. The campaign provides schools with free programmes to help bring their STEM, computing, economics, enterprise and careers curriculum to life, and brings founders into schools to connect with young people.
5. Encourage them to acquire technical skills. As part of the CREATE! Campaign, an "app creation" competition has been launched - linking an immediate real world application of young peoples' ideas by entering students into the CREATE! Your Own App Competition, which will be judged in October and awarded in November. Secondary school students will be asked to provide ideas for apps that they want to use - and university students will be tasked with creating them.