Summertime is the season for lemonade stands, especially when itâ€™s hot outside. In my neighborhood they sprout like pink and yellow flowers, advertise with markers on neon poster-board signs. Lately, they have even been diversifying their offerings. In addition to the usual varieties of lemonade, Iâ€™ve noticed one stand selling brownies and cookies, while another was selling dog biscuits (showing some astute marketing research since in our neighborhood there are a great number of people are out walking dogs).
Given my interest in how to cultivate and support entrepreneurs, I canâ€™t help but wonder how these lemonade stands are seeds for the next generation of entrepreneurs. In an article in Inc. Magazine two years ago, George Gendron made the point that â€œkids with passion are our next great entrepreneurs.â€* Lemonade stands are a great beginning for teaching our kids to be entrepreneurial, and for a great many reasons our kids will benefit. So, by teaching our kids to be entrepreneurial, what are we teaching them?
1) A habit of looking for and an ability to recognize opportunities, especially the ability to reframe challenges as opportunities. Opportunities emerge from the right people coming together in the right situation with enough resources to make something happen. In the process of learning how to do this, our kids will also learn to be more open minded and empathic, and will cultivate the habit of understanding others.
2) The know-how to do something with those opportunities when they are identified or created. Imagine the benefit to our kids if they learn how to use their knowledge to create solutions to problems that matter or bring meaning to peoplesâ€™ lives, pull together the necessary people and resources, and then build a plan for actually making it happen.
3) This third element is the most intangible and the most importantâ€”having the courage and willingness to act. What ultimately distinguishes an entrepreneur (in any realm) is that they are the ones who step up and say â€œIâ€™ll do it.â€ This will teach our kids that taking on challenges doesnâ€™t mean they should not be scared or act as if failure is not a possibility. It means that despite all this, they are willing to take the chance to start something and to see it through.
Whether our kids ever start businesses, they will start and sustain many ventures and undertakings during their lives. And, the willingness to squarely face a challenge which is at the heart of entrepreneurship will be ever more important as they inherit the world we have created.
*Gendronâ€™s article is at http://www.inc.com/magazine/20071001/guest-speaker-the-real-world.html