Guest post from Daymond John, Entrepreneur, CEO, and Shark Tank Star
It’s never too early to start thinking and acting like an entrepreneur: trust me on this, I got my start at a very young age. Shoveling snow, fixing bikes, recycling old toys, selling school supplies—these are just a few side hustles I worked on as a kid.
My mom taught me to think big and, even more importantly, that hard work is essential to success and to overcoming the challenges you’ll inevitably encounter along the way.
Little did I know just how right she was and how taking her great advice would shape my future.
Even now as an investor and CEO, I look back on those early experiences, and it’s impossible to overstate their impact on my journey, perspective, and decisions as an entrepreneur. I can truly say it’s been a lifelong road, and one that still presents new opportunities to learn every day.
And the best time for kids to get started on that road? Right now.
I’ve met so many accomplished people in business who got their start as children; like me, those life lessons have stuck with them and shaped the brands they launch and the investments they make. And after seeing so many awesome kids nail it on Shark Tank, I know for a fact that it’s possible to create a successful business at any age.
That’s why I’m so excited to team up with iD Tech and lend my expertise to the next generation of entrepreneurs through a new virtual entrepreneurship course. My goal is to use the benefit of my decades of experience to inspire, educate, and instill the best practices and advice that has served me well over the years.
5 reasons to learn about entrepreneurship
So here are just a few reasons why all kids should learn about entrepreneurship, and why exploring this exciting subject has far-reaching benefits for young people today.
1. Entrepreneurship teaches kids to overcome obstacles
As I like to say, the dream is free, but the hustle is sold separately. Having great ideas isn’t even half the battle: it’s all about putting in the work and having the grit to persevere through setbacks.
I’ve had my fair share of those.
In school, I excelled in math and science, but language arts was always a challenge. I loved problem-solving, but reading was exhausting for me, spelling a struggle—I had to ask myself: how can I face this obstacle in a way that also helps me achieve my goals?
So, when it came time to find the right high school, I sought out an option that would play to my strengths.
I was accepted into a specialized program that allowed me to alternate weeks of school with full weeks of work, focusing most of my time and energy on areas in which I could grow my talents. I wanted to dedicate as much time as possible gaining work experience and learning about the business world, and I found a way to make that happen.
Years later, I was diagnosed with dyslexia, which isn’t uncommon among some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs. It was a challenge I needed to address, and by finding the right solution for me, I was able to keep pursuing my dreams.
As an entrepreneur, challenges are inevitable: in negotiations, in iterating products, in nailing that perfect pitch, they’ll be there. By taking them on, kids will learn invaluable perseverance skills that will serve them well—in and outside of the boardroom.
2. Hobbies and leisure time become productive (and maybe profitable)
Time is one of the most precious resources we have, and the sooner that lesson is learned, the better! By learning the ins and outs of entrepreneurship, kids can build habits like setting goals, working smart, and other strategies that will help them use their time wisely.
What if that hour of playing video games became an hour of creating something they could monetize?
What if getting up an hour earlier on a snowy day could earn some extra spending money?
Now that’s how entrepreneurs think: my time is the most valuable thing, how do I maximize the potential of every minute so I can do what I love to do? By shifting how kids think about their time, hobbies and leisure are transformed. Even if a particular idea or venture doesn’t work out, that’s worthwhile time spent learning.
3. Entrepreneurs think and act like leaders
When I think about leadership, I think about what has defined my career more than money, television, brilliant ideas, or anything else: it’s valuing people and building relationships.
The best leaders invest in the people around them, nurture a wide network of connections, and are adept at building a great team.
I learned this in my early days running FUBU; dollars and cents don’t grow your business, people do. So collaborate, seek out diverse perspectives, invite people you can learn from to the table, and keep your word. Kids can see the direct benefits of this well before they enter the working world.
Young people have the unique gift of time to build those connections, find mentors, and develop the interpersonal skills of a leader. Whether it’s in business, on a sports team, or in creating a change they’d like to see in the world, great relationships are key to making a difference.
4. Kids will practice envisioning what’s possible
No entrepreneur worth their salt got anywhere by accepting the status quo.
My mom always said, ‘It takes the same energy to think small as it does to think big, so dream big and think bigger.”
On Shark Tank, I always look for that spark of passion, the “why” behind someone’s big idea. That comes from envisioning what’s possible instead of settling for what’s already out there. It could be a new product, a fresh approach, a creative solution, a brand that packs a punch: the “how” changes, but the why of creativity and pursuing your passion stays the same.
Every kid has interests and personal experiences to build on, and by practicing a creative mindset and putting their imagination to work, they can explore new possibilities and make big things happen.
5. Entrepreneurship encourages lifelong learning
That’s right—after decades in business, 11 seasons of Shark Tank, and writing multiple bestselling books, I’m still learning.
Kids probably hear this all the time: lifelong learning is important, but learning with an entrepreneurial mindset will actually show why it’s important.
Skills like developing a concept, making a pitch, building a strong network, and negotiating a great deal require ongoing learning and education with the ultimate payoff: better and better strategies and practices centered around what matters to each kid.
With that in mind, I invite your child to step into the driver’s seat and start their journey as entrepreneurs.
Together, let’s dream big and think bigger!