Could it be that children have innate wisdom that is smothered by the hardships of adulthood? The natural confidence, stubbornness, and optimism children tend to possess are all traits that today’s entrepreneurs could benefit from. Perhaps that is why in the past few years I have seen more stories about kids starting businesses and attaining incredible financial success.
Today I want to share a few inspiring stories about kids who have used the wisdom of their youth to go far. Yes, I’m talking about what we can learn from kidpreneurs, successful entrepreneurs who haven’t yet graduated middle school:
1. Do what you are passionate about
Mikaila Ulmer was stung by a bee when she was four years old. Rather than cry, she wanted to learn more about bees and why they are important. She became fascinated with honeybees, everything they contribute to the ecosystem, and their recent struggle to survive. She wanted to do something to help her newfound friends.
So when her grandmother gave her a recipe for flaxseed lemonade, she decided to start selling the lemonade, flavoring it with local honey, and giving a percentage of the profits to save the dying honeybees.
Mikaila now sells her lemonade at WholeFood markets, restaurants, and food trucks all around the USA. When she isn’t finishing homework, she travels the country to speak at workshops on how to save honeybees and participates in youth entrepreneurship panels.
Mikaila has a huge heart for bees, so even though running a business can be an overwhelming task for a 10 year old, Mikaila doesn’t mind. Hard work comes easy when you are doing something that you love.
That is the great thing about kids. They don’t think about life or business in terms of what would be most profitable. They get into things because they are genuinely interested in them. It is passion that pushes them to do their best.
2. Just do it
One great thing about kids is that they don’t over think things. At the age of 12, Farrhad Acidwalla noticed that there was no online place for aviation enthusiasts, like himself, to mingle. So he started one. Just like that. Since he had no background in programming or web design, he taught himself as he went. After a while he was able to sell his website for a profit, which empowered him to venture into larger internet businesses. He is now recognized as one of the world’s youngest super successful entrepreneurs and gives lectures and speeches around the world.
However, let’s not forget how it all started. He had the childish courage to just get started. He said at a TedX event:
“I’ve never sat on an idea. If I get something, I act on it. Business is all about taking the leap. Once you take the leap, then you can think about what’s going to happen next. The larger the vision, the larger the need to pave your path with skill and confidence. But, a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step. That first step is the most important thing.”
Zuriel Odouole is an award winning filmmaker and speaker who has interviewed 14 head of states in Africa as well as many other African celebrities. She had worked as a correspondent at a World Press Conference and been named on ELLE’s global 30 list, all before her 13th birthday. Impossible? Nope.
The great thing about kids is they don’t have enough experience to know what seems impossible. Consequently, they don’t limit themselves by those standards. Zuriel is a go getter. She sends polite emails and letters to the biggest and scariest of people, because she never writes any interview off as impossible.
What can adult entreprenuers learn from Zuriel? Never let fear of rejection or failure hold you back. Coco Chanel once said that:
“Success is most often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.”
4. Delegate Responsibilities
Moziah Bridges loves bow ties. But when he was a wee one, he had trouble finding real bow ties for kids. So he decided to pull out his grandmother’s funky vintage fabrics and learn to make his own. Since then he has begun a successful online business selling his unique bow ties.
One thing Mo understands, that I think is difficult for some adults to grasp, is that he can’t do it all alone. Whereas some adult entrepreneurs have a tendency to hold all the responsibilities themselves, afraid that if they don’t do it themselves it won’t be done properly, Moziah understands the power of delegation. He lets his mom run the business while he is at school. He also has three seamstresses to do most of the sewing for him.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Kids ask for help every day, that is how they learn so fast. If you are too proud to admit that you need help or too perfectionistic to delegate responsibilities to others, you will become swamped with more work than you can handle and end up drowning in your own success.
5. Learn from your mistakes
Gabrielle Jordan spent hours watching YouTube tutorials about how to make her own jewelry. Eventually her friends started buying her pieces right off of her at school. So, at the age of nine, she started her own jewelry business, Jewelz Of Jordan.
Since the successful take off of her business, Gabrielle has become a celebrated public speaker, Amazon #1 selling author, and philanthropist. She is also the chief creative officer for Gibster, an online teen content platform.
What really stuck out to me about Gabrielle, was her ability to learn from her mistakes. At her first jewelry show, she was offered a microphone to explain her showcase and completely flubbed. She was embarrassed and just wanted to go home, but people came up to her and encouraged her. So she went home desperate to create even better products so that she could prove herself to be more competent at her next event.
In a TedX talk that she gave, she said that one of her secrets is her family who isn’t afraid to tell her when she has made a mistake. When she makes a mistake, she doesn’t try to cover it up, she doesn’t try to justify it. She accepts it, takes responsibility, and asks her mentors how she can learn from it.
It turns out that there are a whole lot of things adults, particularly entrepreneurs, can learn from these incredible kids. For one thing, starting a business takes dedication, and the best way to stay dedicated is to do something you are passionate about. Secondly, running a business means taking giant leaps and not being afraid to try things no one has done before. And finally, there is no shame in asking for help. There is also no shame in messing up as long as you bounce back by learning from your mishaps to keep on running, skipping, hopscotching toward your dreams.