13 May 2017
Lessons on entrepreneurship from our kids
Posted at 12:37h
The era of innovation and life changing start-ups is only just dawning upon us and we cannot even begin to imagine the type of solutions we will see in the next decade. Innovations that will not only completely change the way we live our lives as individuals, but also force us to change the way we live our lives as a society.
Entrepreneurship is a buzz word today. Everywhere we look, the media is covering stories on start-ups and entrepreneurs who have made it big; today’s 20-year-olds prefer working with start-ups than well-known companies. A larger number of established professionals and people out of school are taking the risk of becoming first time entrepreneurs, and more and more people are suddenly becoming angel investors or mentors. Start-ups have also turned the traditional office setup on its head, and working in a start-up environment is simply put “Super Cool”. The culture that some start-ups create is so energising and motivating, that no wonder you see more and more people wanting to work within this space these days.
However, being a start-up is a lot of hard work and usually requires a lot more self-motivation and self-confidence than one first thinks of. It also requires the ability to understand a market opportunity before it even exists and probably even requires you to completely change your initial idea several times over, before you come up with a sustainable business model. So, when my-4-year-old first told me that he has an idea for every task I presented to him as a problem, I realised that maybe there are simple entrepreneurial lessons we can learn from our own kids.
The amazing ability to constantly embrace failure. Kids don’t think of life as failure or success. They just look at a task, think through how to do it, try, fail and try again. They then keep repeating this till they achieve what they have set out to do. Isn’t that a core “ask” of being an entrepreneur? Be willing to constantly fail? We start off with an idea to solve a problem or address an opportunity that we feel exists, see our execution fail more times than we wish, re-create ourselves or our idea several times and then go out and try again.
However, what’s even more important than trying again, is this un-canny ability of kids to be able to move on. So, when a 5-year-old can’t achieve something in-spite of being at it for hours, what does he do finally? He realizes it’s either time to get help from someone older (and hopefully smarter) or simply move on to something else. This ability to so easily move on to something else after having invested so much time and energy into the task at hand never ceases to amaze me. Sometimes being a good investor or entrepreneur also means knowing that in-spite of how hard it can be, when it is time to move on. Whether moving on means completely changing your idea, moving on to something new or going back to what you did before you tried to become an entrepreneur.
Though these thoughts seem simplistic, when the stress of running a start-up or building a company gets overwhelming, if one can stop evaluating everything as, “where we are” vs “where we were supposed be” as per our own thought process, and instead put on the lens of a child, maybe we can appreciate what it means to be an entrepreneur and how so many entrepreneurs have completely changed the way the world will be for our kids. After all who would have thought that one day a 4-year-old would be telling a 7-year-old that “My mom and I did not take a taxi to get here. We ubered here?”
In short, our own kids could sometimes be the best mentors if you need lesson on entrepreneurship.