How do you raise a young entrepreneur? The same way you’d raise any child—by helping her develop the skills to become a happy, successful, and well-adjusted adult.
Jerry and Sarah Cook interviewed over 150 young entrepreneurs to find out what they had in common. In their book The Parents’ Guide to Raising CEO Kids, they explain the four common “pillars” or building blocks that every one of them possessed. They also discovered characteristics these youth shared that can be learned and taught by all parents to help their children thrive.
Last August I heard Sarah Cook’s presentation on Raising CEO Kids at the 2011 Homeschool Association of California Conference. She shared inspiring stories of children as young as three years old who were struck by the desire to be entrepreneurs. Sarah speaks from personal experience—all three of her children are young entrepreneurs.
She and her husband, Jerry, focus on how to help youth develop business and money “sense,” as well as showing adults how to empower and mentor children with the understanding that the potential and capabilities of today’s youth are limitless. The Cooks believe that as a society we’re doing a poor joy of preparing the next generation for employment. But they’ve got lots of ideas about how to change that.
They begin by describing some of the many benefits of being a CEO Kid:
Benefits of Being a CEO Kid
- Active and meaningful employment reduces the risk of dangerous and self-defeating activities
- Purposeful activities increase the likelihood of youth making healthy choices now and in the future.
- Hobbies and talents can be turned into profitable ventures.
- Building a business strengthens interpersonal skills and community relationships.
- Working toward a goal strengthens the relationship between parent and CEO Kid.
- A business provides a practical framework for teaching CEO Kids about financial literacy and behavior accountancy.
- CEO Kids experience the benefits of being their own boss.
- Business experiences create options and choices.
- Entrepreneurs provide jobs and resources for their community and the world.
They explain the four pillars that adults need to instill in children: vision, action, attitude, and outcome. Youth crave a sense of purpose and reason behind what they are doing and with vision and purpose there is motivation to do the work. The Cooks stress the importance of parents teaching their children how to work and to enjoy work at an early age to help foster the beginnings of a CEO Kid.
Today’s young people have so much imagination and creativity, which are key pieces in the success of a business start-up. But because they’ve had less life experience it’s important for parents to help in dealing with disappointments that will inevitably happen. Parents can help console and encourage their kids to keep going, put things in perspective, and feel good about themselves when they face setbacks such as financial hardships, fear and doubt, burn out, and not enough time for their friends.
The chapter on how to get started includes a long list of activities Sarah delegated to her three children as they got older to teach them a sense of responsibility and teamwork. She includes the following steps for starting a business:
Steps for Starting a Business
- Decide on the business idea.
- Choose the business name.
- Set up the business structure.
- Set up the financial accounting and tracking systems.
- Get the business branding completed and order promotional materials.
- Begin marketing and advertising.
- Sell, serve, and follow up.
The book is filled with advice and quotes from the young entrepreneurs and their parents about the successes and challenges they faced. There are many inspiring stories of children who have donated their profits to charities. The book ends with photos, profiles, and links for the CEO Kids they interviewed as well as an excellent list of resources.