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How should I raise a 12-year-old girl to be a successful entrepreneur?

Welcome to Shafspiration!   In this series, we’ll be re-posting the most inspiring and informative articles (and videos) on the web supplementing our family’s journey of entrepreneurism – not only because learning is one of our goals for the journey – but it also adds to the fun and AdVenture.

One of the more interesting websites I like to visit is Quora.com.  Basically, the site is for asking questions (about anything) and providing answers (to the best of your ability).  The best questions and answers get promoted and a series of experts make frequent contributions with the results being some highly informative and entertaining content.  You can also follow questions of interest and you get a notification when new responses have been posted.   I recently came across a question about raising a 12-year-old to be a successful entrepreneur and loved the answer provided by Pascale Scheurer which I’m providing below (you can see the original response here).

How should I raise a 12-year-old girl to be a successful entrepreneur?

Don’t be put off by what some people say.  You are trying to give your sister an incredibly valuable and beautiful gift – the joy of entrepreneurship.  You can definitely guide children to consider certain career choices, and help them to experiment with them early on.  Like artistic or musical talent, entrepreneurial talent is in large part down to the hours of practice you put in, not some mystical ‘inner gift’ (as Malcolm Gladwell has shown).

My Grandma was an entrepreneur, as was my mother.  I hope my daughters will consider it a viable life choice too.  From my family and business partner’s experience (another entrepreneurial Grandma), I suggest you consider assisting her in four areas:  familiarity, enthusiasm, curiosity and supporting failure.

Familiarity:  if she’s exposed to and involved in entrepreneurial activities in childhood, she’ll be very comfortable with the process.  Many children follow in their parents’ footsteps – and they have a clear advantage in their early career.  I’m a rare architect who didn’t have a parent architect – but I did grow up seeing my Mum and Grandma run their businesses.  Stockchecking, stuffing envelopes, proofreading, making tea, you name it I helped with it.  She needs to get comfortable with finance – let her earn her own money and learn to save it, account for it and find ways to grow it.

Enthusiasm:  entrepreneurship is a roller-coaster, risky, not for everyone.  But it’s great fun, like any creative process.  Show her how to love the making, and also how to love the struggle.  Take her to meet entrepreneurs – their passion is infectious.  Find her a mentor who is an entrepreneur in a field she’s already interested in.

Curiosity: this one you probably can’t grow if it’s not there.  But if it is there, even a tiny bit, you can help grow it.  If she shows any desire to buy and sell things at school, support her.  Help her try it out.  Help her set up an Etsy shop for things she makes if she’s crafty.  Commiserate if it all goes wrong, and try again with something different later.

Supporting failure:  entrepreneurship involves a fail:succeed rate of something like 9:1, so just get the 9 out of the way as fast as possible!  Or just reframe it as ‘not failure but learning’.  Consider every attempt an experiment – you always learn something from an experiment, even if it’s just that your basic assumptions were wrong.  Knowing that your family are there to support you through the inevitable tough times makes it all so much easier.

Good luck!

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Thanks for this post Paul. Yes, enthusiasm and support through thick and thin really are vital aspects of nurturing a child on this journey. You also sound like a very supportive family yourselves,by the way!
    Best wishes, Louise

    October 24, 2012
    • Thank you Louise for the kind note. I love the journey and being part of it with my children.

      October 25, 2012

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