Parents, We Need More Entrepreneurs

Apr 5 2014, 9:44am CDT | by

Parents, We Need More Entrepreneurs
Photo Credit: Forbes Business

Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. –Steve Jobs

The world needs more entrepreneurs. Today’s problems are really hard and we need a higher dose of entrepreneurial spirit to tackle them. I’m hoping parents can help.

I’ve been an entrepreneur for as long as I can remember. Always trying to bring business ideas or inventions to life. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how I got hooked on entrepreneurship and business. What instilled that entrepreneurial spirit in me and prepared me for all the exciting, exhilarating, and disappointing realities? Surely I wasn’t born with it; instead a variety of experiences helped light the entrepreneurial flame inside me.

Not surprisingly, it was my parents who first introduced me to business and entrepreneurship. Facing circumstances that they couldn’t solve in traditional ways, they sought to open their own businesses to provide for our family. This required a certain fearlessness and persistence that has stuck with me ever since. I consider myself lucky to have had these opportunities in the first place and I know not everyone gets that chance growing up.

My goal here isn’t to suggest that everyone should start companies or become entrepreneurs. Rather, parents can foster a valuable entrepreneurial spirit in their kids no matter what path their kids decide to take later in life. (Disclaimer: I’m not a parent or a expert in child development. Rather, I hope that sharing my personal story can start a conversation and maybe even inspire others.)

Variety sparks curiosity and comfort with new challenges

From a very young age, my mother encouraged me to try doing a variety of things I would have otherwise never done; unlike many other parents, this was not for the sake of resume building but because they thought it would teach me something. It turned out this made me endlessly curious about the world and extremely comfortable with new challenges.

She encouraged me to do karate, where I ended up fighting competitively for many years. She got me into acting (once even auditioning for a main role in Home Alone). She encouraged me to play basketball even though I was often the shortest player on my team. I did gymnastics, I played tennis, I started two companies before I was 18… among other things. Adapting quickly became my new normal and continues to be today as an entrepreneur. I was even voted “most likely to succeed” – not because I excelled academically like my peers, but because they could sense my ambition and willingness to try anything.

Not surprisingly, I failed more often than I succeeded at these new activities, which taught me to move past disappointment, figure out another approach to succeed, and keep going. Naturally, children get disappointed easily, so it’s important for them to seek out and experience failure early and then keep at it with a desire to do better next time around. For example, my height should have been a disadvantage for me in basketball. But then I learned I could make up for that – and then some – with speed. Later, as an entrepreneur, these experiences helped me become just a little more adaptable than the next guy when it came time to tackle new projects. While specialization seems to be a popular career move these days, being comfortable with unknowns and new challenges is also a powerful characteristic.

Competition supports a winning spirit and collaborative attitude

Being involved in competitive sports drives you to improve and win. While sports are a way to foster a healthy competitive and winning spirit, there are other options as well. For me, there was the Model United Nations program, which provided a platform beyond sports. We were required to do research in order to represent international delegations (like the actual UN) on important issues then go out and publicly defend those policies at conferences around the world. These events rewarded top delegates and the competition was cutthroat. Even though we competed individually most of the time, in order to win we had to collaborate with others. I quickly learned how to work with others toward a common goal and how to influence people with differing perspectives. I learned that winning while collaborating with a team was much more satisfying

As an entrepreneur, your immediate and extended teams (customers, advisors, investors, etc) are the real keys to success. Winning without the help of others is simply not possible.

Traveling fosters self-reliance and creative thinking

Home is a comfortable place, but it can make you complacent and overly reliant on what’s readily available to you. Traveling as a child (and later as a young adult), you come to realize that the world can function in totally different ways. There is not necessarily a “right” or “normal” way to do anything. That is, cars don’t always have to drive on the right side of the road, gas doesn’t always need to be calculated in gallons, food can be made of things you never imagined eating and could be prepared in many ways, and cars don’t all have to look the same. The business world, just like a foreign country you’ve never traveled to, requires that you are comfortable while navigating alone without a map.

The earlier you realize there is more than one way to do things, the sooner you’ll break the psychological barriers that keep you from taking on new challenges. If there were a single formula to success, everyone would be successful.

These lessons, ingrained in me as a child, have had important implications for my adult self and for my business. I’m now the CEO of a company called ReadyForZero, where we’re building resources to help people pay off debt faster. In this role I’m tested every day, and the lessons help me know how to respond. Not being a parent myself, I know it’s tough to make time or provide the means for making all this possible. However, I hope my personal experience can nevertheless inspire parents to try and foster a healthy entrepreneurial spirit in their children at an early age. Because we really do need more entrepreneurs!

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Patient with Ebola symptoms being monitored in New York
New York, Nov 21 (IANS/EFE) A person showing symptoms of Ebola has been subjected to medical tests at a New York hospital, after returning from the Ebola-hit country of Mali.
 
 
Spanish health worker to return after possible Ebola contagion
Madrid, Nov 21 (IANS) A Spanish health worker, associated with the "Doctors without Borders", (Medecins San Frontiers) will be flown back home from Mali, Friday after a possible Ebola contagion.
 
 
US military may extend anti-Ebola mission in West Africa
Washington, Nov 21 (IANS) The US military may extend its mission to combat the spread of Ebola in West Africa beyond six months, if there was a surge of new cases.
 
 
Britain fastest growing G7 economy: OECD
London, Nov 21 (IANS) Britain has the fastest growing economy among the G7 group of developed nations, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported Thursday.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

FKA twigs doesn't want fame
FKA twigs doesn't want to be famous. The 'Two Weeks' hitmaker - who has been dating 'Twilight' star Robert Pattinson since September - has revealed that she doesn't want to be photographed everywhere she goes. She said...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Cruzeiro edge closer to Brazil Serie A title
Rio de Janeiro, Nov 21 (IANS) Brazil internationals Everton Ribeiro and Ricardo Goulart each scored second-half goals as Cruzeiro defeated Gremio 2-1 in Brazil's Serie A championship. The result after Thursday's match...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Fixtures of German Bundesliga soccer league
Berlin, Nov 21 (IANS) Following are the fixtures of German Bundesliga soccer league over the weekend, accordign to Xinhua. Nov 22: Bayern Munich vs Hoffenheim Borussia Monchengladbach vs Eintracht Frankfurt Hannover...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Fixtures of French Ligue 1 soccer league
Paris, Nov 21 (IANS) Following are the fixtures of French Ligue 1 soccer league over the weekend, according to Xinhua. Nov 22: Metz vs Paris Saint Germain Nov 23: Bastia vs Lyon Guingamp vs Rennes Lorient vs Lens...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Patient with Ebola symptoms being monitored in New York
New York, Nov 21 (IANS/EFE) A person showing symptoms of Ebola has been subjected to medical tests at a New York hospital, after returning from the Ebola-hit country of Mali. The patient, who has not been publicly...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Miley Cyrus to throw 6000 pound party for homeless
Los Angeles, Nov 21 (IANS) Singer Miley Cyrus is throwing a 6,000 pound Christmas party for homeless people. The 21-year-old is determined to show her ''caring and sensitive'' side by employing a chef to cook a three-...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
UNSC resolution includes policing in UN peacekeeping operations
United Nations, Nov 21 (IANS) The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has unanimously adopted a resolution to include policing in UN peacekeeping operations and special political missions. The UNSC "resolves to...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Kim Kardashian West's post-baby body
Kim Kardashian West thinks she has an ''even better body'' after giving birth. The 'Keeping Up With The Kardashians' star - who had 17-month-old North West in June last year - feels ''very confident'' about her figure....
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Mark Wahlberg's wife compares him to Harry Styles
Mark Wahlberg's wife thinks he looks like an older Harry Styles. Rhea Durham - who has been married to the 'Ted' star since 2009 - is pleased he is cutting off his locks for charity so he doesn't resemble an older...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Beyonce 'rescued' sister's wedding
Beyonce Knowles ''rescued'' her sister's wedding. Solange tied the knot with videographer Alan Ferguson last Sunday (11.16.14) but the nuptials nearly resulted in a disaster when the 'Losing You' hitmaker reacted badly...
Read more on Celebrity Balla