Parenting: The Ultimate Start-Up!

Entrepreneurial Skills Every Parent Should Teach Their Kids


“The difference between school and life? In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test.
In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.”            Tom Bodett (American author & radio host)

When I graduated from school I was given Dr. Seuss’ Oh the Places You’ll Go. Fitting for the path that lay ahead…

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?
and IF you go in, should you turn left or right… or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind? Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find, for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

I believe that the best learning happens beyond school. And success in life is determined beyond academic test scores. I was an excellent straight A student in school, not because I had the highest IQ, but because I learned quickly how to be an exceptional test-taker! I learned what to memorize, based on the teachers cues, for example when a teacher said, write this down or wrote it on the board, it meant it would likely be on a test; and then I learned how to quickly regurgitate the information long enough to pass that test, and finally I learned to do a brain dump to store enough information for the next test! But my education did not prepare me for my path as a business owner. I did not learn how to effectively think, I did not learn how to have empathy for others, I did not learn how to overcome adversity! There were no books in my curriculum teaching that! All of my entrepreneurial education occurred outside of the classroom.

Now, as my children have started school, I have survived a chaotic start to kindergarten. But have already noticed some gaps in their curriculum. We fail our children if we foster only technical skills and textbook knowledge. So I am instilling in my children at an early age an entrepreneurial mindset. It’s this mindset that will serve them well no matter what they do in life. Whether my children follow in my footsteps as an entrepreneur or not, these skills, if applied, will make them life-smart and not just book-smart. I am cultivating success early by teaching the following:


To proactively grow their intelligence!

IntelligeIMG_3140[1]nce is the ability to learn. It is NOT a fixed trait. Teaching my children that intelligence grows the more we learn, is a healthier and more productive perspective than believing that intelligence is a matter of biology.

I noticed, my son would protest in objection to doing his homework, “But I don’t know how to do that!”

Or when we would watch shows of amazing children with amazing talents, my daughter would sadly say, “Well I don’t sing/dance/whatever it is, like her!”

When faced with a challenge, Carol Dweck‘s research shows that children who think in terms of intelligence being fixed give up quickly. They see failure as proof that they don’t have what it takes, not as a signal to invest more effort or try another approach.

But I hope my little learners seek challenges, think creatively and thrive despite setbacks. So I praise them for their effort and persistence instead of for getting all the answers correct! And I share stories of scientists, athletes and artists who model passion for learning, not just winning, so my children see hard-working role models (other than me of course!)


To grow their money on trees!

The family is an economic unit, however, in many families, discussions about money are taboo. The details of the family finances are hidden and if there is a conversation about money, it’s about its shortage. Then children learn to associate money with worry, which does not serve them well. Teaching my children that money does grow on trees (it is paper, afterall) and is easily accessible to everyone, I believe will serve them better. But I am also teaching that we harvest what we plant and that growing money requires knowledge, attention, patience, and love!

So12339099_616125478519609_2398967561728050520_ometimes during dinner I mention when I receive money for helping a business owner grow their business. We talk about how that money supports the family and our expenses, such as the food on the table, the mortgage for the house, the school field trips, etc.

And I have just started letting them earn money. In our household, we decided not to link allowances to chores. Each child has chores by virtue of being a member of the family. But I wanted to teach them good money habits involving spending and saving, so they could earn more money by taking on special jobs, such as washing Nana’s car or picking blueberries from Papa’s yard.

Why not, every once in awhile, have a family meeting specifically to discuss and make decisions about family purchases? I refuse to spend entire weekend carpooling kids to and from all of their extra-curricular activities, so quarterly I give them the option of choosing one activity (swimming, gymnastics, karate, dance, etc.). This is when I brief my children in an age-appropriate way on our resources and allow them to ask questions. Or on family vacations? Each time we’ve gone to Disney World, we let them choose which park they want to attend. The benefit is that children emerge as active participants in making financial decisions instead of passive consumers who just receive all the reward.

I hope my little learners embrace their responsibility to make money grow on trees by taking smart risks with their money. So, I show them pride for having a good work ethic by tending to my crops diligently! CLICK HERE to learn how successful entrepreneurs learn how to grow money on trees.


That problem solving is fun!

Defining problems, formulating options, testing potential solutions, and deciding on a course of action ISN’T fun, but critical to success! Families that treat problems as obstacles or, worse, calamities for parents alone to fix are missing an opportunity to help children exercise some important problem solving muscles.

My children are full of why questions. So I engage in my childrens’ natural curiosity and and encourage the “why?” Then I model problem-solving strategies by reflecting the question back to them: “Why do you think?”

It’s all in the attitude. Make problem-solving fun and engage in real-world research!  Double your cookie recipe and let children determine how much butter and flour you need. Ask them how they could get over the river without a bridge. Look up cloud types online and formulate a hypothesis about tomorrow’s weather. Play Clue or read Nancy Drew books or introduce brain-teasers.

And when they get frustrated and beg for the solution… I’d suggest they sleep on it. I am teaching them that difficult things take work to understand, but to have confidence in their own problem-solving skills. With a little thought and maybe additional information, the answer always reveals itself. Eventually when they get it, the look of accomplishment is priceless!

I hope my little learners lean into complexity, instead of being scared of it and draw from a diverse set of insights to find solutions to problems. So I encourage an investigative approach: teaching them to ask questions, listen carefully, critically analyze knowledge from many sources, and take action.


To be resilient by making their own decision!

Let children make some of their own decisions… AND occasionally fail. CLICK HERE to learn more.

“Don’t parent for success, parent for resiliency.”  ~ Just A. Mompreneur

Developing a thick skin—critical to any entrepreneur—has to be earned one adversity at a time. So let them earn it! When they are younger, give them choices. Peas or carrots. Skating or movies. Setting the table or helping with the dishes. As they get older, they get to make bigger decisions…some of which they will regret.

We know that pain, failure and disappointment helped make us who we are. However much we may want to, we can’t shield our children from life. So let’s encourage our children to reach for the stars and if they come crashing down they will know their parents’ unconditional love will cushion their fall.

When possible, teach them to treat their problems as a series of smaller challenges that can be deconstructed, approached logically, and resolved one by one. This is the difference between children who are overwhelmed by adversity and those who say bring it on! It’s important for children to follow rules, but it’s just as important for them to be rewarded for constructively challenging norms. Indeed, questioning the status quo is a key prerequisite of being a successful entrepreneur. CLICK HERE to learn more.

I am helping them develop a strong sense of self by knowing their own strengths and challenges, essential for personal wellbeing and social success. Yet finding their own identity in the face of peer pressure can be awkward and frustrating. So I reassure my children to share their opinion openly and respectfully by using phrases such as “I think” or “I feel”… even if I disagree, so they know how to stand up for themselves!  And by listening and validate their emotional perspective I am teaching empathy.


There is nothing more entrepreneurial than becoming a parent. It is the ultimate start-up venture!

Even if, like me, you think working for yourself is objectively better than working for someone else, don’t ever bash traditional jobs. Let your children weigh the trade-offs for themselves. Not every child wants to run their own business, even if they have the chops for it. But to realize their own dreams, every entrepreneur needs a pool of talented teammates who find satisfaction in being part of a team that pulls together in service of one vision. So teach an entrepreneurial mindset so your children learn to depend on themselves for their own success and cast that vision of success… whatever places they go!


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ABOUT Candace Jenkins-Espinet

blog cAs a busy Mom of twins and CEO and founder of JustaMOMpreneur, a multimedia platform designed to motivate, inspire and inform mompreneurs, I juggle a million things each day and am always on a quest to redefine the meaning of “Work/Life Balance”.

By utilizing my education in Psychology, my background as an elementary educator, over 10 years of business experience, and my parenting lessons, I bring other Mompreneneurs invaluable resources, tools and information I’ve acquired on how to work smarter, not harder – so we have more time to spend on what matters most…your family!  This blog is focused on providing Mompreneurs with encouragement, support and resources as they travel the journey of motherhood and entrepreneurship. Join me as I discuss how to grow our businesses, how to turn ideas into actionable results, how to maintain our relationships, how to help others, and how to organize our lives and make it all work.

You are not alone! CLICK HERE to Join my MOMpreneur Success FB Community TODAY!

P.S. Want help focusing and managing your time, energy and business online, so you have more time, energy and money to do what matters MOST? I’d love to help you… CLICK HERE for my 5-STEP MOMpreneur BLUEPRINT


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