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Grow your own Entrepreneur

February 23, 2012

Can it be? A new post? You could have sworn that I had abandoned my post at Confused by Confucius. How long has it been? Weeks?

Au contraire, I am alive and well, just a little busy.  I know, excuses excuses…but really, trying to start a company, handle class, and find time to hang out is quite the juggling act.  In fact it has rendered me rather ill.  To the average person. I probably have a cold, but to me, it might as well be the plague.  I never get sick, so one hint of a cough or fever renders me bedridden and helpless.

At any rate, I have fallen into a pattern of calling my mother to talk whenever I am walking somewhere around campus.  Not only do I feel like I am effectively keeping in touch with my family, but I also feel extremely popular.  Yesterday, we were talking about whether entrepreneurs are born naturally, or whether you could raise one yourself.  So I did some soul searching….as it turns out, I think there were some critical aspects of my upbringing that helped me along the path of budding entrepreneurhood.

1. In the same way that doctor’s kids know all the symptoms of a heart attack by age 5, the carter children knew about the concept of a market from a young age.  My father was a trader. He traded his own money, managed his own hours, and talked about the market at dinner.  LIttle kids can understand investment if you put it in simple terms.  Take, the stock ticker on cnbc. I remember asking my mom what the acronym for mcdonald’s was, and then I would sit in front of the TV and wait for it to glide across the screen and if the stock was up, I would announce ot the house that people were buying Mcdonalds and that we should buy some too.

2. Let your kid fail. I lost every single student government election until my junior year of high school.  I even wore a convincing and professional brown suede pants suit in the fourth grade, and it still didnt get me the vote. But every year I put myself out there and sure enough, after tweaking my platforms and stage presence, I finally got it. No, it wasn’t my sister’s nutella crepes, I won those high school kids over with my charm!

3. Don’t give your child money. Provided you didn’t raise a total dunce, your kid is going to be resourceful when they are short on funds, but they want to buy things. Lack of resources leads to problem solving.  Though hindsight is twenty twenty, I cannot tell you how happy I am that I had to earn my right to go out to movies, buy clothes, and now that I am in college budget my food.  That doesn’t mean I’m okay with being poor. In fact, I am so not okay with it that I decided to develop a start up…go figure.  Provided that your child is also not a dishonest twerp…he will not resort to drug dealing or fake id making (although those options are technically entrepreneurial).

4. Do support the first lemonade stand.  In order to supplement my meager allowance ($2.00) for chores (not extensive) around the house, My sister and I often looked to alternative forms of funding in our younger years.  Many of our business ventures began as lemonade stands.  My parents never blinked as we used garage furniture, pitchers, and umbrellas to post up on our driveway selling warm lemonade for 25 cents.  As we got older, our ventures escalated to selling brownies, a pet walking service, and a failed attempt at a carwash.  Unfortunately, our business ventures did not really have the longevity a second grader might hope for due to irreconcilable differences that would consistently arise between myself and my cofounder.

5. Let your child fight their own battles. Initially. Allowing your kids to learn how to do things themselves and learn that working with others is a fact of life will ultimately make them easier to work with and a more able leader should they ever endeavor to start a business. There are situations when intervention is necessary. Exhibit A: my current email battle with my dean after I wasn’t granted permission to live off campus next year.  twenty one years old, and not allowed to choose where I live.  As much as I would like to say I have klout, our campus has little regard for their own students when it comes to money making. My parents will have more influence over the success of this battle. If anyone at Davidson College is reading this, spread the word and support the freedom to choose our own housing. To prospective students, Davidson might be a residential campus, but 98% of us certainly don’t choose to live there.


So there you have it….Don’t be over protective, and don’t mindlessly give your child money. If you can accomplish that, you are well on your way to successful entrepreneurial parenting.

While you think about that, I will finish up Campus Sherpas application to Tech Stars Boulder Summer 2012!


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