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Foster These 9 Entrepreneurial Instincts in Your Children (and Employees) and Watch What Grows!

What makes an entrepreneur tick? Why are they always thinking about new ways to solve problems? In my last blog, I shared a bit of my entrepreneurial story and how I believe all humans are born with 9 Entrepreneurial Instincts that become consistent behavioral traits when nurtured and developed.

Fostering these traits in your employees can take your business to new levels (and partnerships). Developing these instincts in your children can spark something truly amazing!

The 9 Entrepreneurial Instincts

  • The Knowledge-Seeking Instinct – This is about continually learning. Reading, thinking, listening, observing, absorbing, and applying is a trademark of a great leader. A love of learning can help every instinct be discovered and developed. How your child or your employees emotionally feel about learning new things determines their level of success. History shows a pattern of this specific instinct being hyper-developed in individual humans that caused significant advancements like the light bulb, air travel, and space travel.
  • The Audacious Dreamer Instinct – This instinct is about doing what you love and are passionate about in life. Kids instinctually start off as audacious dreamers who see no limits and exude creativity. Tapping into how to stay an audacious dreamer (despite educational systems and governing policies) is how we grow this instinct, which is central to successful entrepreneurship.
  • The Try Again Instinct – This instinct is about being resilient. Humans want to attain goals. Goals develop our instinct to never give up and to try again and again until we succeed. The cave person who invented fire proves this instinct can lead to game-changing activity. The Try Again Instinct is linked to optimism. Whether it be an employee, a business partner, a child, or a spouse, developing this instinct makes a world of difference.
  • The Prove-It-to-Me Instinct – This instinct is about fact-finding and due diligence. It allows humans to let go of emotion and personal bias when analyzing new ideas and opportunities for the best outcome. For children, this instinct is often suppressed as they are told to follow the rules and are discouraged from questioning the status quo. In business, venture capitalists use this highly-evolved skill to constantly assess how a business model will work, scale, and succeed without being distracted by excitement over the deal. The sooner your child strengthens this instinct, the sooner they will feel in control of their experiences.
  • The I'll-Fix-It Instinct – This instinct is about seeing problems and potential solutions to those problems. The ability to see new opportunities in everyday life while traveling, shopping, or working is at the heart of valuable ideas and business models. It's essential, for both kids and employees, to encourage them to see a “need and fill a need” so they gain the confidence that they can handle any situation.
  • The Evolving Instinct – This instinct is about being willing to change and evolve through what is not serving you. It requires emotion and pride to be removed from thinking about people, patterns, and processes that are not helping you succeed. Understanding that the right path naturally eventuates if you're willing to recognize it and take it is one of the hardest to develop. It is also one of the behavioral traits that help humans survive mental, emotional, physical, personal, and professional times of crisis.
  • The Whatever-It-Takes Instinct – This instinct is about working hard and sacrificing what you really want to achieve. This instinct is different than the Try Again Instinct because it requires out-of-the-box thinking. If something is not working, out of reach, unavailable, unfair, or unjust, humans have two choices: “live with it in despair” or “do whatever it takes” to change it. Especially in school, kids with different learning styles will figure out how to learn "despite" these differences, or they will struggle through without grasping the knowledge. In business, those "overnight successes" usually require at least five years of hard work and incredible sacrifice to get there and make the difference between staying in business or failing.
  • The Go-Out-on-a-Ledge Instinct – This instinct is about no risk, no reward. It's a fundamental factor of almost any major endeavor when we are young or when we are in business. Finding the calculated balance of risk and opportunity is vital. This instinct develops stronger and faster in humans who are made to feel that failure is not bad but rather a learning moment before success.
  • The Selling Instinct – This instinct is about connecting and communicating. By developing a constant awareness that every point of communication matters because connection leads to opportunity, you develop the ability to sell your ideas to others. Whether communicating with partners, investors, vendors, employees, or kids, every communication is an opportunity to strengthen your connection. Great communication is about selling others on the value of a relationship with you. 

When all humans, but kids especially, look within and identify their entrepreneurial instincts, they find personal ambitions and goals rapidly progress, improve, and materialize. Curiosity, confidence, and conviction are what turn sparks into fireworks. Understanding what drives kids and makes them think and act differently might make them "weird," but it means they are part of an extraordinary universe of others that think like them and create entirely new worlds of thought, play, and progress during their time on this planet. When humans understand why they do what they do, they feel included, not as isolated.

I can prove it to you!

Humans That Sparked Early

Bill Gates might be one of the best-known young entrepreneurs we can point to, but it’s happening more and more often.

Gallup Poll showed that 50% of minority students and 37% of white students in grades 5-12 in late 2013 were planning to someday start a business of their own. Here are just a few examples of young entrepreneurs changing the world:

In 2013, Brandon, 13, and Sebastian Martinez, 11, started Are You Kidding. They help the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund and Autism Speaks by selling funky looking socks to schools for fundraisers.

In 2014, Alina Morse invested $7,500 that her grandparents gave her for college into her own candy business called ZOLLIPOPS. Since 2014, her candies are available at SuperValu and Whole Foods along with Amazon. She has been tagged as the Dentist’s Best Friend for her sugar-free treats.

In 2015, Bella Tipping started after identifying a child-sized gap in the travel market, so she created a travel review website specifically for kids.

In 2016, Evan Moana started EvanTubeHD and was named YouTube's youngest millionaire. He was in fourth grade at the time. His channel reviews kids' toys and has more than 6 million subscribers. All the money Evan raises through sponsorships and advertisements and his earnings are invested in college funds and investments for Evan and his sister, Jillian, who is also a YouTuber

In 2017, 10-year-old Hannah Grace started BeYOUtiful. You can find her products on her website. Hannah donates 20% of every purchase to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund, as she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was an infant.

In 2018, Jelani Jones, CEO of Lani Boo Bath, visited farmers markets and tested as many products as she could find. One of those vendors became her mentor, and Jelani turned her bath product hobby into a lucrative career. She was 9.

In 2019, David Holston launched his first entrepreneurial initiative when he made $35,000 in 4-days by posting an ad on Craigslist offering his truck for snowplowing during an unprecedented storm in Seattle. See a need, fill a need.

In 2020, Miracle Olatunji, author of Purpose: How to Live and Lead with Impact (at age 19), continues to work with OpportuniMe, a company she started when she was in high school.  She is also the Director of Innovation at Thrive.

Helping your kids start a businessregardless of their school situationis an amazing experience that will stimulate the development of their Entrepreneurial Instincts and help them develop curiosity, confidence, and conviction.

Now, imagine helping your business team hyper-develop the three Big C’s[c2] how would they change the scale and profit of your business? What if an employee came to you with an idea that transformed your company OR with a new business idea that you could partner on?

The first step in getting the 9 Entrepreneurial Instincts to grow and become behaviors starts with having a Growth Mindset. I’ll share more about that in my next blog.

Humans are humansno matter what ageand we’re capable of incredible things. By understanding the 9 Entrepreneurial Instincts we all possess, how to encourage their development into behavioral traits, and how to fuel a Growth Mindset in the people around us, we are helping ignite firework humans at every age.


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