Nurturing entrepreneurial spirit in your children

By Gemma Johnson, CEO,

Ah, the famous ‘entrepreneurial spirit’. For me, it’s one of the most exciting spirits an individual can possess.

But what is it, exactly?

It’s hard to describe, but you know it when you see it. People with entrepreneurial spirit tend to have irrepressible ambition and desire to succeed. They’re not put off by risks that would scare other people rigid (such as the possibility of losing large amounts of money) because all the risks they take are calculated – and there is a stubborn refusal to accept failure or be knocked back by defeats large or small. Squeeze the word passion in there and that pretty much sums up the spirit of the entrepreneur for me.

Despite record numbers of people now setting up their own businesses (a large number of them mums), society still has a long way to go in terms of supporting, nurturing and educating future generations on the benefits of taking this path.

From an early age society encourages children to think in terms of university or college, a stable job, and developing into that ‘well-rounded team player’ so beloved of job application forms.

But this way of thinking doesn’t allow any room for those that have the skills and desire to go down a different path.

So if the system isn’t always in place to encourage and nurture these entrepreneurial traits, then it’s up to us as parents to give our children the exposure, support and confidence they need to fully explore their skills, ideas and aspirations.

The characteristics of an entrepreneur

Let’s look in a bit more detail at what qualities an entrepreneur needs. An entrepreneur must have:

  1. An unshakeable faith that they can change things for the better and an unwavering belief that they can come up with quicker, cheaper and better ways of doing things.
  2. An independent mind-set.
  3. The ability to inspire and motivate others with an optimistic boldness.
  4. The drive to overcome constant challenges and always keep their goal in sight.
  5. Superhero energy levels, bullet proof internal motivation and athletic mental stamina.
  6. A desire and need to invest in the future
  7. A keenness to explore, experiment and embrace creative thinking


As a parent, how can you foster these qualities in your children?

Well, as a mum of three and an entrepreneur myself, I try to ensure that my children have the freedom to experience both what their school and society expects, and also what an alternative might be – doing it for yourself and the flexibility that can bring.

Get them involved
I get my two eldest children involved in what I do for a living as much as I can. I want them to grow up with a different perspective on business: that it can be a fun, rewarding and creative experience but also littered with mistakes and failures that build your strength of character. I want to teach my children to be strong, to lead and to live by their own beliefs and values to craft the life they want. I want them to view work as a platform to be their raw, creative selves – not just a job and a wage.

Depending on your children’s ages, involvement could be anything from posting letters, sorting through receipts, answering the phone to even letting them come up with some ideas for some issues that you are facing. You never know, there may be a good one in there as children tend to be far more open minded when problem solving.

Encourage creativity
This is the most important one for me, showing my children how liberating and fulfilling work can be when you’re given the freedom to be creative. Society in general is skewed towards conformity and whilst it’s not advisable to teach children to break rules, it’s important to teach them to think creatively, to find solutions in a different way, to explore, be curious and to test things to see if they work or not.

A born leader
Instilling values and ethics into your children at a young age is crucial and will set them up to hone their leadership skills. Teaching your children why ethics, values and morals are important in everyday life and explaining to them what happens when you or others don’t live by these is an important part of life. It’s also good practice to show your children how to set goals and targets around the things they want to achieve. This could be something as simple as moving to level 3 in swimming within a certain time period, or it could be around improving their reading skills at school. What is important is the process of setting the goals and their sense of achievement when they reach them.

Embrace failure
Failing is normal and teaching your children to embrace this is a key life skill to equip them with. There have been many times along my journey where I haven’t achieved what I had originally set out to do – but by showing my children that I still get up each day and power through (while taking time to reflect, be still and re-set my sails) is a crucial lesson and attitude to pass on.

I want to encourage my children to figure out solutions to some of their problems as they get older rather than me or their father bailing them out each time, which is tempting and the easiest option. At a young age, asking the right questions of your child(ren) to get them to dig deep and think about the answer is part of their solution. We must also allow our children to make mistakes and fail – and to hold back on the criticism when they do.

I’m hopeful that my three children will follow my lead and live a life that’s daring, exciting, fulfilling and creative whether as an entrepreneur or an employee.

A final point to remember: as our children get older they thoroughly enjoy attempting to mimic how we as adults conduct ourselves in both our work and home lives. So be mindful of what of you show!

Photo credit: WISE

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