As a small, woman owned business, encouraging entrepreneurship (especially in young women) is extremely important to me and Orlando Mom Collective. We asked, Lowey Bundy Sichol- an award-winning children’s author with an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, about encouraging entrepreneurship among girls- check out some of the important information she shared and how it can have lifelong benefits.
Why is it important to encourage girls to explore entrepreneurship?
The world of entrepreneurship is a world of opportunity for girls. Consider your daughter’s passion… is it in science, art, clothing, music, animals, sports, business, technology, cooking, hair, or something else? Great ideas often come from one’s passion so encourage your daughter to dream big but also remember that turning a great idea into a reality always requires entrepreneurship.
How can moms encourage entrepreneurship among their daughters?
I personally love two “entrepreneurship” activities with my own kids. First, ask your daughter “where did it come from?” when she throws on those favorite shoes of hers or eats her favorite chip or plays with her favorite toy (you get the point). Where did it come from? Who is the founder(s)? Why did they start their business? Just asking “where did it come from” will open your daughters’ eyes to the millions of startup stories around her. These are stories she can learn from as she considers her own ideas over the years.
Second, watch Shark Tank! It’s an easy way to witness entrepreneurs giving that very important elevator pitch. After the pitch, pause the show and ask your kids what they think of the idea before the Sharks chime in. Is it a good idea? Why or why not? Then restart the show and see if the Sharks agree or not.
What types of “jobs” can girls do as kids to help foster and grow their interest in business ownership? (for example, babysitting, yard work, etc.)
Here are my personal favorite summer jobs for kids:
CADDYING: Most kids can start caddying at age 13. Caddying builds physical strength, communication skills, confidence, patience, and can lead to a great network, which is especially helpful later in life. As a golfer myself, I loved caddying in college. And while I was the only female caddy at the golf course back in the mid-1990s, I’m happy to report that more girls are finding caddying the perfect summer job (including my own daughter). Caddies can also earn scholarship money through organizations like the Evans Scholars Foundation.
CAMP COUNSELOR: Camp counselors can have a wide range in responsibility and time commitment, but all counselors learn valuable lifelong skills such as resiliency, communication, problem solving, and leadership. Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner was a camp counselor and went on to turn the Walt Disney Company around from almost bankruptcy to a billion-dollar organization.
VOLUNTEERING: Maybe your child’s passion lies in helping others. Volunteering at a nonprofit builds important lifelong skills and will give your teenager a meaningful summer. Whether it’s helping at an animal shelter, garden, state park, hospital, food bank, or senior center, young volunteers learn new skills while also experiencing the ins and outs of the industry they are working in. Volunteering has also been proven to lower stress and improve mental health, something all teenagers can benefit from these days.
ENTREPRENEURSHIP: What better way for a child to jump into the world of entrepreneurship than by doing it herself. Sure, lemonade stands are an easy one-hour journey into making a few bucks but how about starting a lawn-cutting business with weekly customers, invoices, and advertising involved? Or for that teenager with a gift for jewelry-making, photography, or drawing, try selling your creation at a local farmer’s market. Maybe your child takes a page from Sara Blakely’s (founder of Spanx) book and starts a babysitting camp in the backyard or at a nearby park. The opportunities are endless and the benefits vast.
How can moms nurture entrepreneurship among their daughters’ long term?
First off, remember your daughter’s dream is probably not your own. I’ve written about hundreds of entrepreneurs and have yet to come across a successful entrepreneur who thought exactly like his or her parents. Instead, your child’s different way of thinking is what makes their idea so great! Support your daughter emotionally, especially when things get tough. Celebrate with her when she has wins (both big and small). And finally, remember that a parent’s network is often an important resource for children as they get older and try to start a business or get a job in the real world. Who could you introduce her to that may open some doors?
How early can moms encourage entrepreneurship among girls? What age(s) are most ideal?
I believe conversations about business and entrepreneurship should be part of the family conversation from the beginning. When you engage with your kids about what their aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, and you do for work (using the appropriate business terms and language), kids naturally learn what it all means and often ask great questions if they don’t understand something. Explain it simply at first but as they get older, your conversations will naturally become more mature.
It’s also very important that kids read about entrepreneurship. Reading how others started their companies is one of the most important teaching strategies (called case studies) in business school so why shouldn’t it work for elementary and middle schools? It was my work with MBA case studies that inspired my nonfiction children’s book series called From an Idea to LEGO (+ Nike, Google, Disney, etc.) which is written for kids age 8-12. From an Idea to… is the world’s first entrepreneurship biographies for kids. My newest book called Idea Makers: 15 Fearless Female Entrepreneurs – was written with middle school and junior high girls in mind.
Lessons of perseverance, bravery, resilience, and creativity run deep throughout all my children’s books. They help inspire kids to think about their own ideas and teach them the steps it takes to turn an idea into reality.
What other tips or insight can you share?
Entrepreneurship can strike at any age. It’s an exciting but scary time in one’s life when they leave the comfort and security of a paying job to see if their business idea might change the world. Consider Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, who had a father who never understood his vision for running sneakers and often spoke to his own child with disapproving anger. On the other hand, Ole Kirk Christiansen, the founder of LEGO, embraced the ups and downs of entrepreneurship while persevering through the hardest of times, and eventually brought his own children and grandchildren into the family business. If you are so lucky to have an entrepreneur in the house, be supportive, help when you can, and be that person your child can come to in both the best of times and the worst of times.