Teaching Children to Think Like Entrepreneurs

lemonade-standA few years ago I was part of an informal gathering of men and women who make their livings in internet marketing. Many of the people at the event have made phenomenal incomes from the internet. At one of the meals, I sat across from Craig Perrine, a young Dad who has made a fortune teaching others how to build e-mail lists so they can market their products on the internet.

In the course of the conversation, he mentioned that as a teen he was really into cars and had gotten the idea to import foreign cars into America and sell them at a profit. I asked him what made him think like that as a teenager and his answer was, “My father always thought that way, so I just picked it up at home as I was growing up.”

Then, when I got back home, my son James approached me and said he and his friend Joel had decided to meet together once a week and educate themselves about business. They intend to learn all they can about different areas of business and then start a business together. Because I have had six businesses and have gone to every business-related seminar imaginable, they asked me to devise a “course of study” for them.

So, as I thought about the books and programs that would be most helpful, I realized that the foundation of all successful business is the development of an entrepreneurial mind.

In the page on having an Entrepreneurial Mind, I mentioned Einstein and Descartes. You’ve probably heard of them, but have you ever heard of Napoleon Hill?

Hill interviewed most of the highly successful people of his day and found 16 characteristics of success. One of these was what Hill called “The Entrepreneurial Mind.”

Some people call it “BE – DO – HAVE.” This means you have to be what it takes in order to do what it takes to have what you want. This type of thinking is the reason multi-millionaires like Donald Trump can lose it all and come back with even more. In fact, if you read the stories of highly successful entrepreneurs, they often lose everything and get it all back several times.

The important thing when it comes to success is that you get the foundation, which is the THINKING of success. The rest of it is just learning different skills. But the skills are useless without the thinking.

How to Develop an Entrepreneurial Mind in Your Children

How do we develop an entrepreneurial mind? Remember, not one of the successful business people who Napoleon Hill interviewed was born with the characteristics of success—they developed them.

The best way to develop an entrepreneurial mind is to learn from those who already have one. Read, read, read and learn how entrepreneurs think. Try to find mentors who are successful in the areas in which you want to be successful, and either work for them for free or pay them to mentor you. Copy what others who are successful think and do. Go where entrepreneurs hang out, like conferences and seminars.

I’ve drug my kids to seminar after seminar on business-building, internet marketing, public speaking, real estate, stock trading–you name it, they’ve been to it. I also take them to entrepreneurial mixers and introduce them to local businessmen and women. I do this because this gives them an opportunity not only to see what’s out there (there is an abundance of opportunity) but so that they will rub shoulders with people who are very successful at what they are doing. In the process my children have realized that these people think differently from the people they usually hang around.

So my recommendation is that you actually develop an “Entrepreneurial Track” in your home schooling. Get your children to start reading some of the “Top Resources” below. Read along with them, because you probably need to develop an entrepreneurial mind as much as they do.

Then save up and take them to a conference in an area they find interesting–real estate, internet marketing, etc. You will be amazed to discover that there are teenagers who go to these conferences on their own and there are also other parents who bring their kids, so your children won’t be the only ones there. And some of these teenagers (yes, even some home schoolers) are making enough with their own businesses to support their whole families.

A final thing you can do is let your children intern under people who are successful in an area of business the child may find interesting. Our son James mentored for a year with a stock and options trader in Idaho and has done well trading options.  Blake mentored with a film director in Nashville, which has given him the opportunity to work on several award-winning films as well as travel overseas. And Seth studied with several computer programmers before he started his own programming business.


Anointed for Business by Ed Silvoso. This book gives a clear understanding of how Christian business people can impact the marketplace for Christ. This is not the thinking we are used to having about business. In fact, the church has tended to treat business people as spiritually inferior Christians, whose main value lies in their ability to contribute money for church projects. Silvoso changes that thinking by explaining what an integral part businesses can play in transforming society. In fact, there are many nations who will not allow Christian missionaries, but who will welcome Christian businesses.

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. Napoleon Hill studied all the successful business people of his day and came up with 16 traits that made them different from other people. The good news about Napoleon Hill’s research is that none of the people he studied were born with those traits, they developed them. So anybody can do it, even you.

Your Life as Art by Robert Fritz. Robert’s work is about recognizing what really matters to you, and then creating your life based on that. So in a way, he teaches you to nourish and equip your deepest desires and highest aspirations so that you live a life centered around those.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. Covey’s ideas are so widely circulated that if you don’t read his book, you’ll be at a disadvantage when people start talking about concepts from the book like “win-win” and “synergy.” But that’s not the real reason to read his book. The real reason is that it is one of the absolute greatest distillations of the concepts that it takes to move toward success and effectiveness in every area of life.

The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch. Did you know that 80% of your success in any endeavor comes from 20% of your efforts? The 80/20 Principle is a cardinal rule in business, because everything about business follows this ratio—80% of your sales will come from 20% of your products; 80% of the effective work will be done by 20% of the employees; and so on. The 80/20 Rule is a double edged sword, because 80% of your activity will only produce 20% of the results you want, so it’s better to zero in on the 20% in every area—your personal life, your relationships, your business—that produces the most results. Koch not only thoroughly explains the 80/20 Principle and the effect it has on all aspects of your life and business, but he gives valuable “keys” for enhancing the 20% that creates the real results.

Cashflow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki. Kiyosaki has dozens of books in print. All of them are well worth reading, but to me this is the most life changing of them all. It clearly explains the way money flows in the hands of the poor, the middle class, and the rich, and why you must change your cash flow pattern if you want to become financially well-off. But the most interesting part of the book is the explanation of the four different types of people in business—the employee, the self-employed, the business owner, and the investor—and the thinking and lifestyle that lies behind each. This book will change forever how you look at a job, and also how you look at owning your own business. Read it!

Multiple Streams of Income and Multiple Streams of Internet Income by Robert Allen. These two books are a gold mine of information about how to create “streams” of residual income that make you financially self-sufficient. Most of us are used to thinking in terms of only one stream of income—a job—so the idea of creating multiple streams (no, not by taking more jobs) is revolutionary. These books cover the many, many ways there are to create wealth in such an easy-to-understand way that almost anyone can do it.

The Best Home Businesses for the 21st Century by Paul and Sarah Edwards. This is a huge book that takes the 100 best businesses that can be started and run from home and analyzes the kind of personality it takes to be in that business, the education and skills needed, the start-up costs, and everything else you will need to know to determine if one of these businesses is for you.

Homemade Money: Starting Smart! How to Turn Your Talents, Experience, and Know-How into a Profitable Homebased Business That’s Perfect for You! and

Homemade Money: Bringing in the Bucks! A Business Management and Marketing Bible for Home-Business Owners, Self-Employed Individuals and Web Entrepreneurs Working from Home Base by Barbara Brabec. These two books are a revised and greatly expanded version of Barbara’s one volume Homemade Money, which has long been considered “the home business Bible” for anyone wanting to know how to start and operate a successful home business. The first book, Starting Smart, contains information and resources for everything from a quiz to see if you really have what it takes to work out of your home, to figuring out what home business is right for you … and beyond, with information about how to run (and profit!) from a home-based business. This book is the perfect resource for everyone who has the drive and determination to making working from home a reality! This book is a “must have” work at home resource. Bringing in the Bucks! is the most comprehensive “manual” available for anyone starting or thinking of starting a home-based business. No questions are left unanswered. From start-up concerns like zoning, permits, and legal forms of your business, to running your business day-to-day, this book is the only one that you’ll need to get up and running in no time. What’s more, Barbara Brabec has solicited the comments of industry professionals from many different fields. They offer tried-and-true tips and techniques to run your business smoothly and, as the title says, “Bring in the bucks”!

The E-Myth Revisitedby Michael Gerber. The key to creating a business that survives and thrives and frees you from being a slave to your own company is creating systems. You must turn your business into a system or else all you may have done is created an 80 hour a week job for yourself that probably pays only $2.50 and hour. You’ve gotta read this book if you want to create a successful business. I wish I had read this book 20 years ago.

Conversations with Millionaires by Mike Litman. No, we’re not obsessed with getting rich or withbecoming millionaires, but this book is such a window into the kind of thinking it takes to operate a multi-million dollar enterprise that you’ve got to read it. The book is a series of interviews with some of the richest and most successful businessmen in the country and they share their paths to success as well as their failures. It is fascinating reading.

Building the Business of Your Dreams by Ellyn Davis and Tim Lakey. This is a set of 8 CDs from a business conference sponsored by The Elijah Company. The set includes the following CDs:
• The Entrepreneurial Mind, which is an explanation of the kind of thinking it takes to become an entrepreneur.
• Multiple Streams of Home Income, which focuses on different avenues of home income and ways to look at cash flow.
• Identifying Your Dreams and Business as a Vehicle for Achieving Your Dreams helps you get in touch with what it is you really want out of life and discover a business that is a vehicle for living the life you want.
• Developing Your Business Plan is a two CD set that walks you through every area of creating a business plan.
• The Importance of Business Relationships discusses why having connections with many different people is so important to your business.
• Redeeming the Marketplace is an interview that Ellyn Davis held with Mike Bickle and Bob Fraser of the Joseph Company about the impact a Christian business can have on a city.

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