Four Mistakes to Avoid When Teaching Entrepreneurial Skills to Kids

As parents, we want to provide our children with the best possible tools so they can lead a happy, independent, and successful life. The more tools they acquire, the more options they’ll have for choosing and excelling at a career they want to build for themselves. Academic success is important, unquestionably, and it’s still a significant advantage to this day. But in contrast to the world we were living in 30 years ago, it’s no longer a guarantee of anything. Some things are simply not taught at school, but can still be extremely valuable to your child’s success. Such is the case with entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial skills.

In the job market of the future, entrepreneurial thinking will be one of the essential characteristics sought by employers and valued in the business world. It’s based around a set of entrepreneurial skills that parents can encourage by applying different techniques in different stages of their child’s life. Yet there are certain behaviors and attitudes that parents adhere to which reflect negatively on their child’s chances to acquire and develop the entrepreneurial mindset. These are the absolute don’ts for developing your child’s entrepreneurial skills.

1. Emphasizing the Role and Not the Entrepreneurial Skills

In today’s business world, entrepreneurship is elevated to the level of an ideal, something everyone should strive towards. You get the impression that if you’re not a business owner, you haven’t reached the pinnacle of success. But leading an entrepreneurial life comes with certain downsides. The notion of how great it is to be your own boss has been mythologized to a certain extent and the real story is a lot more complex.

Entrepreneurship is one of those topics that’s riddled with survivorship bias, meaning that the spotlight is usually on the stories of people who’ve made it, leaving out the majority of those who were unsuccessful. Research shows that around 75% of venture-backed companies fail to provide their investors with a cash return, and 50% of startups don’t even make it past their 5th year. Bearing that in mind, it would be equally wrong to conclude that your chances of success are determined simply by the luck of the draw. Companies that have failed did so for a reason and the stats are supposed to underline just how difficult being an entrepreneur actually is.

While it’s probably true that entrepreneurship has its perks, this kind of dynamic, passion-driven lifestyle comes at a price. Entrepreneurs have among the most stressful jobs, which is understandable when you consider the amount of uncertainty that comes with the role. That is why they pay the psychological price. They often work longer hours, either at the expense of having a less developed personal life and getting less sleep. Those who are not prepared to cope with entrepreneurial stress are at risk of suffering from health-related issues, both physical and mental.

Whether or not someone is going to be a great entrepreneur will be determined by an array of factors. It’s evident that quality of life is not purely determined by being a business owner. We need to shift the ideal from being an entrepreneur towards having an entrepreneurial mindset and developing entrepreneurial skills. By doing so, we’re empowering kids to have careers they choose according to their interests, needs, and values.

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The best way to learn how to think like an entrepreneur is to actually become one!


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2. Accepting Money as a Core Value

Money is a very important tool in our lives but it’s still just a tool. A means to an end, important for fulfilling some of our basic needs like food, water, and shelter. It’s true that it can be of tremendous help when we’re trying to actualize our values. However, it shouldn’t really be one of the core values itself. Having lots of money doesn’t speak to your virtues by default. One of the reasons why it’s not healthy to lend it such significance is because any potential fluctuation in your accounts will be overwhelming.

How our children perceive money is an area in which parents can have a crucial influence. If you overemphasize its value, your child might develop an unnatural connection with it. They might learn to think it’s more important than friendship, community, family, or any other value that plays an important role in a person’s well-being. A study in 2015 has shown that valuing time over money “is related to greater subjective well-being”.

In conclusion, the money-first mindset is very toxic. It’s like a minefield for your mental health. Even if it may seem as though it can help entrepreneurs achieve economic success, it will surely leave a mark on other important aspects of life.

3. Focusing on the Issues (and Not Their Resolution)

There’s no doubt that being able to identify issues is a very useful skill. Entrepreneurial thinkers rely on this skill every day but that’s just the first part of the story. There’s much greater value if it’s combined with knowing how to tackle them. If you’re focused on simply pointing out hurdles, your child will learn to do just that. You also need to pair it with giving them a constructive approach for overcoming obstacles. Otherwise, their contributions in work-related settings will be extremely limited.

They might suffer from other consequences as well. Fixating on a particular issue is an incredibly frustrating experience. If that’s how your child learns to function, they’ll never get beyond feeling frustrated and outraged. They’ll miss out on opportunities to develop confidence by taking an active approach, and they could end up with anxiety as their sole response whenever they’re facing a challenge.

If you ever catch yourself purely venting about an issue to your child, try to take a step back and restructure your story towards exploring potential solutions. Modeling this type of behavior makes it easier for them to attain it and later on portray it in adult life situations.

4. Shielding them from Failure

For a parent, there’s nothing worse than seeing your child feel or get hurt. Failing is followed by hurting and when they fail, they experience a whole rainbow of negative emotions. All of a sudden, we feel this incredible urge to protect them. Still, dealing with negative emotions is a very important part of growing up. It’s the raw material upon which we build resilience, something that we’ll need to rely on later in life because it won’t just keep getting easier. Failing is an important component of growth and is also unavoidable in a work environment. Resilience will allow your child to push on when it’s difficult, while keeping their cool.

But that’s not the only downside of not letting your child fail. By not giving them an opportunity to learn how to deal with feeling sad, or disappointed, or angry, you’re also giving them a false sense of their abilities. You’re creating the illusion that your child is good at doing something when they’re objectively not. This makes dealing with harsh reality checks even more devastating.

This doesn’t mean you should always sit on the sidelines and let your child fend for themselves. If the consequences of their failure are truly endangering you should definitely step in and help. And when you do step in, don’t try to simply remove the obstacle but empower them to get over it.


In order to improve optimally, we need to consider both the dos as well as the don’ts for our situation. It’s probably easier to think about what you should be doing than to critically assess what you’re already doing wrong. That doesn’t make it any less important and in terms of parenting, it’s something our children will be thankful for.

The entrepreneurial lifestyle is a very layered topic. The advantages are very tempting, but they may come at a price, which is all the more reason to put the emphasis on the skills and not the profession. Entrepreneurial skills are and will continue to be highly rated in the future of work and we shouldn’t be a barrier hindering our child’s attempts to develop them. The best thing you can do for your child is to provide them with the tools and let them figure out the best way to utilize them.

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