Many children dream about 'making it big' when they get older – of driving big cars, living in mansions and swimming around in oceans of money. Parents, in turn, dream of their children achieving their potential, making the most of their talents and being happy. The problem is that as they get older, these dreams all too often dissipate, coming to nothing. A major reason for this is the fact that many young people do not have the practical skills to make their dreams a reality, and cannot turn their passions into something profitable.
Lorraine Allman’s new book, “Enterprising Child” offers a much needed framework to help young people, and parents, realise their ambitions. Aimed at guardians of 4-14 year olds, it offers practical tips and helpful activities to help parents support their children in developing the skills needed “to make the best of the opportunities and challenges life presents whether as an employee or as a business owner”.
Entrepreneurship can be a difficult topic to quantify. After all, many successful entrepreneurs (in the narrowest sense) can be reluctant to reveal the ‘secrets of their success’, perpetuating the myth that entrepreneurs are born and not made. With entrepreneurs in general, it is difficult to unpick what it is that made them successful in the first place. “Enterprising Child” does a good job of investigating what these traits are - identifying five separate areas: perceptions of possibilities, ambition, risk and resolve, teamwork, and value.
Allman then goes on to suggest activities geared at developing these traits. The guide is packed with common sense ideas and workable examples, such as getting children involved in the planning stages of a family outing, so that they learn about organisation and time management, or teaching older children about body language, so they can improve how they communicate with other people – all vital life skills. There is also a helpful “What your child is learning” section towards the end of each chapter, which helps to put all the information in context.
As well as navigating parents and other readers through all this helpful information, Allman has also gathered together some fascinating interviews, with some very notable business people, including Tim Campbell (best known as the first winner of the UK version of The Apprentice), Laura Tenison, founder of Jojo Maman Bébé, and impressively, Nicola Horlick, the entrepreneur behind Bramdean Asset Management, and latterly, Derby St films – all of whom give parents of would-be entrepreneurs some advice on encouraging children down this path. Also featured are interviews with young entrepreneurs, including Adam Bradford, director of UnITe Computing, which he founded at 14, and 22 year old Luke Coussins, founder of VioVet, the online pet food and medication business. These young people explain how they got to where they are now, and give frank assessments of the roles their parents and schools had in their stories to date.
However, my own personal interest in the guide stems from the chapter devoted to young people and money management. Of course, no book about entrepreneurship and business success would be complete without some mention of this subject, but Allman’s approach to it is particularly refreshing. She encourages parents to teach children about money management as they go, and tries to ensure that it comes out through play as much as possible, most pertinently in the ‘double a penny’ game. True financial success often comes through taking control of money, whether by budgeting, or by simply understanding the basics, and this, as we discover, is the basis for success in entrepreneurship.