I’ve been a mompreneur for about 16 years—and now it’s payback time. Involving my kids in my business ventures was the best thing I did as a parent, especially since they are older now and recognize the things they learned from living with and having a scrappy entrepreneur as their mom.
My husband and I raised three kids in Lower Manhattan where I launched an espresso bar, a nonprofit educational program for teens and more recently a toy company. I juggled being a mom and an entrepreneur by including my kids in my day to day business activities. Once, I found myself weaving in and out of the wintery streets of Lower Manhattan with my one-year-old in tow in search for the perfect storefront to open an espresso bar.
A few months later, I opened Klatch Espresso Bar and began my journey as a mompreneur. My two teenagers would stop by after school to help at the register and when they were old enough, I hired them as baristas. I discussed marketing strategies and business development ideas with them, but I felt it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t trying to turn them into entrepreneurs, but I wanted to empower them with an entrepreneurial mindset. This made me the unpopular mom. I searched for a summer business camp but couldn’t find one that taught more than the basic lemonade stand model—so I started a business camp for kids.
Teen Entrepreneur Boot Camp launched in Lower Manhattan as a two-week intensive workshop where teens got hands-on business experience writing a business plan for a pop-up espresso bar that would open to the public for two days. Not only did my kids beta-test the workshop, they provided me with valuable feedback as I crafted the program which eventually ended up as a special program at the highly acclaimed Stuyvesant High School in New York City.
Here is why I think kids should learn an entrepreneurial mindset before they head off to college.
An Entrepreneurial Mindset Fosters Curiosity & Critical Thinking Skills
Most kids don’t stop to think about what it takes to launch or operate a business. Teaching them entrepreneurship will open their minds to think about how the world works around them.
An Entrepreneurial Mindset Builds Innovative & Creative Skills
My kids learned about product development and manufacturing when I launched a line of puzzle books for kids called Flip ‘N’ Check. My youngest daughter was my target market and product tester. She gave me feedback on game content, illustrations and most importantly- the fun factor! I reviewed prototypes and book cover designs with the kids and was excited to present them with the final product when a shipment of books would arrive from China. They even created an activity game that ended up in the book. How many kids can make that claim?
An Entrepreneurial Mindset Fosters Encourages Resourcefulness & Problem-Solving Skills
Entrepreneurs are faced with problems and challenges every day and often need to think creatively to troubleshoot a situation. When I discovered a glaring typo in a new shipment of Flip ‘N’ Check Books, I quickly needed a solution because they were about to ship to stores across the country. The mistake was a big deal because Flip ‘N’ Check is an educational product and the word “grammar” was noticeably misspelled. So, I piled my daughter and a good friend into the car and we drove three hours to the warehouse to make the repairs.
We tore open shrink-wrapped books, replaced the misspelled word with a whiteout sticker and re-wrapped all 3,000 books. Two days later we completed the task and the books were ready to ship. My daughter learned that you do whatever it takes to get the job done even if it’s an arduous, menial and challenging task.
An Entrepreneurial Mindset Teaches Sales Skills
When I would exhibit and sell the Flip ‘N’ Check Books at the International Toy Fair in New York City, I would enlist my daughter to work the booth with me. With thousands of other exhibiting toy vendors, we assembled our booth and prepared to welcome toy buyers from all over the world who would be on the hunt for the next hit product.
The competition was fierce and we all fought for the buyer’s attention with the same end goal: sales. We all will encounter the need to sell something in our lives and could use sales skills to help us achieve our goals.
An Entrepreneurial Mindset Gives Kids Skills to Compete in the Marketplace
Teaching our kids an entrepreneurial mindset can only equip them for the ups and downs they will experience in their lives. My advice to parents who want to take on the role of teaching their kids business smarts is to make the learning experience fun and light. It took a little trickery to keep my kids interested, but I’m glad I did because they just thanked me for it—and that’s a huge win in my book!