By Jacob Baranski
Parents have great power over their children, usually, in ways they aren't even aware of. Kids, especially young ones, dote on their parents' words, and what they say to their kids can have a greater impact than they could even imagine, even unintentionally. This is especially true for kids' dreams and aspirations. An offhand remark, such as dismissing an interest or idea as unrealistic or impractical, can stop a dream in its tracks before it's even had a chance to get started.
For Jacob Baranski, his awareness of this fact is both a small burden, but also a great opportunity. Because his children's interests are growing and changing all the time, he finds it important not to dismiss whatever latest obsessions might be and instead use them as an opportunity to instill in them the lessons of entrepreneurship.
By this, Jacob doesn't mean getting his kids to develop business models or try to solicit investment funding. Nor is it about aphoristic platitudes concerning life and money. It is about sowing a mindset, a way of thinking that will be useful over the course of their whole lives. He wants his children to have interests and hobbies, yes, but also to build on them; to develop skills and resourcefulness in the pursuit of development of their passions, and to see things through from beginning to end.
What Is the Entrepreneurial Habit?
Jacob Baranski's kids are full of ideas, practically stuffed with them. So many that it can be hard not to just ignore them. This isn't being mean or dismissive, everyone knows how mercurial kids can be, and it is impossible to always match their level of excitement and enthusiasm all the time. But, in Jacob's opinion, too many parents react to their kids' immense creativity with a “That's great, honey,” and that's it.
No parent wants to kill their kids' dreams, but many do, however unintentionally. Many parents think that, by insisting their kids be practical and realistic, they are doing them a favor. But this attitude mistakes pessimism for wisdom, a mistake made by many people who have been beaten down by the world. But the optimism of kids isn't something to be dashed. It should be shaped.
Jacob Baranski has always tried to convey a rebellious optimism to his kids. A positive mindset matched by proactive support. When one of his kids comes up with a new interest or off-the-wall idea he refuses to be dismissive. Instead, he engages with them fully, asking them questions about what they want to actually do with the idea, or what they want out of their new interest. He asks them to think about it. And he is never surprised by how amazingly useful that can be.
Practical Entrepreneurship for Unrealistic Kids
Careful consideration, being able to stop and think, is an immensely valuable skill in any person, so Jacob Baranski spends a great deal of time developing that sort of resourcefulness in his kids. He asks his kids questions like “What's stopping you from doing the project you want to do?” or “What skill do you need in order to do this fun thing?” Each question is, essentially, asking them how to problem solve the challenges they face. Even if his kid’s goal is “I want to fly to the moon!”, there is value in considering how to actually do it.
What does this have to do with entrepreneurship? Everything. Assessing, untangling, and solving problems is what grown-up entrepreneurs do all the time. Every great business idea, every essential product, every innovation was at some point an impossibility, an impractical dream. So thinking like an entrepreneur can create resourcefulness in a person that will serve them for a lifetime, whether they are in the business sector, or any field.
And that's just the lifetime benefits. Jacob Baranski wants his kids to think like entrepreneurs right now, on a practical level as well. One on-the-ground habit he has them engage in is putting their ideas in a journal, as it helps them realize they aren't just fleeting fancies. Ideas can be revisited and developed later on, even if they are impractical at the moment.
Making their ideas more real by writing them down also demonstrates that their ideas have value and that that value can be shared. A kid that writes down ideas and keeps track of their inspirations will be much better later in life at the details of networking and communication. Jacob also thinks parents may want to record those journals, on their phones or in the cloud, so that they don't get lost like so much kid stuff does!
Entrepreneurship Mean Seeing Things Through
Another characteristic of the entrepreneurial mindset that can be instilled in kids is the ethic of seeing things through, from start to finish. For Jacob Baranski, that often means helping his kids bring their projects and ideas into the real world.
For example, because of his kids’ interest in writing and drawing, Jacob helps them bring their work to completion with the printing of an actual book. Any parent can do this through services like Vistaprint and Shutterfly. This lead to Jacob's kids' book actually being put into the school library, a wonderful way to show children the rewards of a fully completed idea.
There's a multitude of ways kids can realize a project all the way through. Kids with a creative streak can paint or do arts and crafts projects, and advertise them on an Etsy store or on Pinterest. Kids interested in cooking or baking can set up their own local shop for friends and neighbors to pick up treats. Music, languages, basically any skill or interest can be developed through the massive volume of tutorials and guides found online. There is no longer any excuse for not developing a new skill.
Most of all, Jacob Baranski wants his kids to realize that creativity is just step one. To be able to predict and plan out a process is incredibly important. He doesn't want to see the spark of imagination in his kids to remain just that, a spark. He wants their creativity to be shared with the world. And that is more logistically complicated than one would expect.
Jacob Baranski recommends catering the process to your own kids' strengths the same way he's done with his own children through their own experience and interests. Would a point system help spur them along on their projects? More practical awards, like allowances or special treats? Jacob recommends it be about more than chores. Give your kids a bonus for learning a new skill, or completing a big project. Let them come up with their own ideas, and reward them for seeing them through.
Entrepreneurship for All Areas of Life
Entrepreneurship isn't just about business or making money. Jacob Baranski believes the entrepreneurial spirit is all about having an organized, disciplined method of exploring creativity that produces real, measurable results. It often takes the form of a money-making business but can be everything from art projects to community outreach to charity drives to so much more.
Entrepreneurship also helps to keep a balance between the important aspects of your life. In Jacob Baranski's family, that means it actually enables connections between its members. These experiences of entrepreneurship are shared between siblings, and from parent to child, as they organize their lives in support of each other, providing a foundation for their interests and passions.
The saying “do what you love, and you'll never work a day in your life” usually applies just to find a good job you enjoy. But it can also mean investing love and passion into all the things you do in life. Never before have there been more opportunities to find joy and interest in learning new skills, or trying new things.
But Jacob Baranski insists that passion must always be met with thoughtfulness, planning, and a proper work ethic. If the entrepreneurial spirit, along with its practical application, can be instilled at a young age and developed over time, it will create a spark that is impossible to extinguish. The world can be very, very tough on idealists, and those with ambitious goals. But perseverance can see anyone through. Kids these days have the world at their fingertips, and we as parents should teach them to be masters, not dilettantes.