You’ve heard the tale of a typical taipan: his phenomenal rise from rags to riches and his inspiring success story that starts when he was still small. Like any parent, you also want your child to have his own success story someday. “The future belongs to a very different kind of people with a very different kind of mindset; people who are creators, big-picture thinkers, empathizers, and meaning makers,” writes Mary Joy Canon-Abaquin, Ed.M., in her book 8 Simple Secrets to Raising Entrepreneurs. She is also the founding directress of Multiple Intelligence International School and mom to Chiara, 14, and Anica, 11.
“An entrepreneurial mindset is basically innovative and creative,” Abaquin tells Smart Parenting. Whatever your occupation, even if you’re not an entrepreneur, you can still think and act like one. This mindset also makes you stand out. “Knowledge is accessible to everyone these days, but the person who will lead is the one who can use that knowledge for something,” Abaquin says.
Leah B. del Castillo, editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur Philippines, adds, “If you want to be successful, then you should have that mindset. But if you just want to be secure and follow the rules, you don’t need that. You can survive, but you won’t be extraordinary.”
Strengths and skills Nurturing your child to have an entrepreneurial mindset has something to do with helping him find and pursue his passion. “Once your child finds his passion and becomes skilled, creativity and innovation follow,” Abaquin says. Here’s what you need to do to nurture an entrepreneur:
1. Observe. Watch your child closely and ask yourself: What does he love to do? What is he really good at? Find out what he enjoys doing and does very well. “Pay attention to his strengths,” Abaquin advises. “For you to be creative in an area, you’d have to be highly interested in it, too.”
2. Be open. “Make an effort to be aware of what your child wants. Do not insist on what you want him to be,” Abaquin advises. Being open-minded is key, especially if your child has interests that are different from yours. “Don’t say ‘It’s too difficult,’ ‘Wala kang mapapala diyan,’ or ‘Stop it.’ Be supportive. If you aren’t, a potential just dies or becomes latent.”
3. Give him opportunities. Once you’ve pinpointed your child’s passion, find opportunities to develop it. “Let’s say your child is very interested in art. Look for a good art program and a mentor or teacher for your child,” suggests Abaquin. “Exposing kids to good role models is important, so they have people to look up to.”
4. Give him feedback. Sing your child’s praises. “Parents also have to ‘label’ or highlight their child’s strength, because a child is unaware of what he’s good at,” Abaquin explains. “Studies show that self-efficacy—your perception of how efficient you are at something—is very much reliant on feedback. If people keep telling you you’re good at something, then you embrace it and you become even better.”
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Take your cue from these two moms who are nurturing entrepreneurial kids. Jacqueline C. Yu, Seaoil Philippines VP, and mom to Hannah, 10, and Rachel, 8, relates, “We talk about how farm-to-market roads from their Makabayan lessons help the economy grow and relate that to business to make learning more fun and interesting. I encourage them to ask questions, and I’m always ready to explain business concepts to them.” She adds, “I also allow them to dream about what they would like to do in the future. My kids want to put up their own fashion line.”
Christine G. Juan, school director of Sacred Heart School Sun Valley, and mom to Maxine, 10, Francine, 8, and Carrine, 4, gives some tactics. “I expose them to the rudiments of business by discussing and explaining simple business concepts with them as early as possible. I also try to explore and cultivate their interests, so I have an idea of what they are passionate about. I always talk to them to get them comfortable with communicating with others and to boost their confidence.”
Values to live by An entrepreneurial mindset goes hand in hand with these values that form the foundation of a future entrepreneur. But whatever field your child wants to be in, he can still surely benefit from these values:
1. Self-discipline Since he’s his own boss, an entrepreneur is a self-starter. He doesn’t have to be told what to do. To instill self-discipline, Abaquin suggests starting an organization system at home and setting a schedule your kids can follow.
2. Resilience Starting a business involves big risks. Failure is inevitable, so encourage your kids to keep trying. “Be there to process [the situation]. Tell her, ‘What went wrong? Let’s figure out a way to make it successful next time.’ That’s the kind of guidance needed to encourage kids to try again,” Abaquin advises.
3. Accountability. When you work hard for something rather than simply ask for it, you value it more. Abaquin relates, “My daughter asked for a drum set. I told her to save for it, so she told her titos and titas during her birthday and Christmas that she’s saving for a drum set.”
4. Hard work. Entrepreneurs work long hours and even on weekends and holidays, too. Abaquin suggests, “Give them chores at home to teach them [to be responsible].”
5. Commitment. It’s one thing to start a business and another to see it through the birthing pains and watch it grow. “When a child starts something, you have to make them finish it. Once you commit to something you really want, you can’t quit,” says Abaquin. “If you enroll your kid in a class, he has to stick to [the program] even if he doesn’t like it at first.”
6. Charity. “Entrepreneurship is an opportunity to help other people and change lives,” Abaquin says. “Whatever your strength or intelligence is, you have to use it to make a difference. The mindset should be ‘What can I do? How can I make a difference?’”
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What makes a good entrepreneur? Leah B. del Castillo lists the qualities of an entrepreneur:
• Problem solver. “You can’t easily give up. There are many things you can’t foresee, so for each thing, be ready to go around it, face it, or go back and reverse. You will be besieged by many problems, so solve them as they come.”
• Risk taker. “An entrepreneur must have a certain risk tolerance. But I wouldn’t say that the success of an entrepreneur depends on his being risk-tolerant alone.”
• Market researcher. “He’s attuned to the market: the consumer, the general economic climate, the general business trends or those within your market. You should have knowledge of what’s happening around you.”
An early start Entrepreneurship may not be for the faint of heart, but it does have its perks. “It boosts a child’s confidence in dealing with people, and teaches him the value of hard work and resourcefulness, and that money doesn’t grow on trees,” says Juan.
Meanwhile, Yu focuses on the big picture: “Entrepreneurs create jobs and help society by providing products and services that are valuable to the community. By encouraging my kids to try entrepreneurship early, I can help them see an entrepreneur’s contribution to society firsthand and hopefully encourage them to become one in the future.”
The great eight Abaquin spills these secrets in her book 8 Simple Secrets to Raising Entrepreneurs.
1. Knowing thyself. “Knowing one’s self is the foundation for bringing out one’s purpose and passion. As parents, we need to empower our children with their personal capital.”
2. Attitude. “Success is a matter of attitude. Our attitude determines how we feel, think, and act.”
3. Entrepreneurial mind. “[It] can be applied to any field of interest… and will empower [your child] to use his profession to start a business.”
4. Money smarts. “Being money-smart is important because it determines whether future adults will manage their resources well or fall into debt.”
5. Mentorship. “Try to find mentors for your child. It is amazing how many ideas die on the drawing board simply because of poor or no mentoring.”
6. Work ethics. “An entrepreneurial mind without a proper moral compass can be dangerous.”
7. Starting a business. “The entrepreneurial mind is for everyone, but starting a business is not. Business basics have to be taught.”
8. Making a difference. “The goal of entrepreneurship should be about using the business enterprise to make a difference in the lives of others.”