Like most parents, I want the best for my kids. By the best, I don’t necessarily mean the best clothes, the best programs and vacations (which is nice) but what I think is even more valuable: the best tools to make something of themselves.
These days, the focus is not on thinking and using our minds proactively, but rather on Googling everything.
I decided to try and challenge my kids. My husband and I are both entrepreneurs and when I ask my kids what they want to be when they grow up, their standard answer is “I want to take over your company.” Ha. Fat chance. Life is not going to be that easy for you.
So we decided to put out a challenge to our kids. We created a home version of Dragon’s Den. The challenge? Develop a product or service idea and present it to us for the chance to get $100 in funding towards your business idea. The requirements? Come up with a presentation that outlines the cost for developing your product, what your profit will be (we gave them the breakdown of how to figure that out), who will want to buy your product and how it will be sold.
We gave them three weeks to develop everything and then they had to pitch us.
Yes, I am that mom who thinks my kids are pretty darn smart and have a lot of potential but their faces are in their devices so much that I feel like the wifi signal is sucking up their brain cells. So imagine our surprise when both kids came up with full Powerpoint presentations, formal speeches (although they presented in their pyjamas) and profit breakdowns that were calculated so accurately that I wonder if they consulted my accountant.
Once they finished presenting, we sent them out of the room to discuss. We looked at each other in shock! Our offspring had amazing potential! Who knew? We brought them back in to deliver our feedback. We criticized and complimented but were so impressed with both that they both got funded but had to split the $100.
So what did this exercise accomplish?
They used their minds in a way that was new to them. They got excited about the potential to invent something. They got excited about the potential to earn money. But more exciting to us is that they are actually going to try and make a go of their individual businesses. My son came home from school yesterday and went straight to working on his product. He bypassed the TV and the iPad and he wouldn’t even come for dinner until two hours after we were done; he was a man on a mission. This might be the start of something pretty amazing.
As a serial entrepreneur, I couldn’t be prouder. All I had to do was issue a challenge for them to show that they were more than capable.
Challenge your kids to think outside their comfort zone. The next Steve Jobs and Elon Musk are going to have to come from somewhere…why not from your home?
Sharon Vinderine is the founder of Parent Tested Parent Approved, a North American product awards programs, and a recipient of the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award.
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, Aug/Sep 2016.