Many of the successful entrepreneurs I know grew up breaking the rules. To start your own business, especially at a young age, you need take risks and follow your own path. Kids do some crazy stuff, but in my experience some of those traits are essential to entrepreneurial success.
To support the entrepreneurial traits of children and to enable the next generation of creators, builders and innovators, MasterCard has recently launched YES: Youth Entrepreneurial Success program. I’m proud to be a part of that initiative that will introduce an entrepreneurial way of thinking to youth who lack resources and support so they see what is possible.
Here are six traits I’ve noticed in kids that are essential to entrepreneurial success:
1. Creativity: The kid who painted their artwork, the desk, and the walls
Kids often get in trouble at school for not following the rules, but you can’t come up with something new without dreaming big and using your creativity to sometimes colour outside the lines.
2. Passion: The kid who spent all day in their tree house
Kids can spend hours on end focused on one passion, often at odds with parents who want their children to be well-rounded. But as an entrepreneur, it’s your one-track minded passion that keeps you focused during the ups and downs of launching and running a business.
3. Risk-taking: The kid who strapped on cardboard wings and tried to fly
Parents live in fear of the inquisitive kid who takes risks without regard for their safety. And while trying to fly is a risk no one should take, that fearlessness is part of every entrepreneur who takes the leap and starts their own business.
4. Curiosity: The kid who never stopped asking ‘why?’
Kids asking question after question can drive their parents crazy. But as adults, we often lose that curiosity about the world around us. Great entrepreneurs do not. They never stop questioning and searching for the ‘why’ when it comes to a perceived business need.
5. Resilience: The kid who was teased for their quirky choices
The playground can be a cruel place. Kids who learn to be resilient master a skill crucial to entrepreneurs. I faced a lot of rejection before launching my business, and I had to get comfortable with sticking to my vision even when people told me I was taking the wrong path.
6. Business know-how: The kid who amassed the biggest baseball card collection
Some kids already know how to drive a tough bargain. Parents usually want to teach children the “value of a dollar” but they don’t want them getting involved with money or business. If you want to grow up to be a business owner, the sooner you can learn to think like a business person, the better.
What can seem troublesome can actually be a form of creativity and entrepreneurial intellect. Children are a great resource for innovation and their curiosity allows them to take risks. MasterCard’s YES program is partnering with The Next 36, Ryerson University, Ladies Learning Code and the University of Waterloo, to provide added resources to aspiring entrepreneurs.
YES Programs offer young, tech entrepreneurs the opportunity to build businesses that address real world pain points. From a year of mentorship with Next 36, to opportunities for emerging women entrepreneurs at Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone (DMZ), a first-of-its-kind National Girls Learning Code Day with Ladies Learning Code, and a free online computer coding course by the University of Waterloo to help all Canadians learn the basics of computer programming.
MasterCard will also hold YES Works Mentorship MeetUps with the Expert Panel that will connect youth with mentors who will provide support and encourage the growth of young entrepreneurs. As an Expert Panel member, I look forward to inspiring and encouraging youth to see what’s possible.
Brian Wong is the Founder and CEO of Kiip, and expert panel member for the MasterCard Youth Entrepreneurial Success (YES) program