Calling all parents! Ever wondered how you can help your kids on their entrepreneurial journey?

Here, Laura Henn, IT consultant and mother of Catherine and Michelle, shares excellent advice about how she helped her daughters kickstart their own successful 3D printing business, Happy Hens.  

As the world crumbled during 2008’s financial crisis, it was hard to watch so many friends and colleagues lose their jobs. Having worked in the financial sector for many years, it was becoming apparent that the traditional path of ‘being employed’ was fast losing its sheen. Having the confidence to take the leap into self-employment, even starting something new, began to feel like an indispensable skill.

Today, with the world changing in so many ways, this seems more urgent. My own experience has shown me one powerful answer to this challenge. Become the master of your own destiny.

These observations directly informed the way I approached my daughters’ education. No matter what, they’d need to find their own way to make a living – to create their own futures. As far as I was concerned, this meant learning entrepreneurial skills.

Michelle and Catherine Henn

Laura’s entrepreneurial daughters, Michelle (l) and Catherine (r)

THE PROBLEM WITH TRADITIONAL EDUCATION 

Schools can teach business basics. But what about those skills that cannot be taught in a traditional classroom environment? Accounting and marketing can be written into a syllabus, but it is much harder to teach how to take rejection? Or how to bounce back when it all goes wrong? What about the development of individual and creative off-curriculum ideas? These skills are surely best learned through experience? 

SETTING UP MY OWN MICRO BUSINESS

Knowing that experience was crucial, I led by example. Whilst working full time, I started a small business printing iron-on labels for school clothing and lunchboxes.

I included them in everything I did. Selling through eBay and my website, I took care to show them how to calculate costs and prices. They helped manage the stock, choose colours and make crucial marketing decisions.

They watched it all, sharing emotions as I built my little online business – the excitement of each £2.50 order and the disappointment on days when nothing sold.

HAPPY HENS – READY TO LAUNCH

A year on, I saw the Children’s Business Fair advertised. It seemed the perfect opportunity.  Catherine and Michelle were ready to take on the challenge setting up their own business. They were excited to be kick-starting their adventure. They spent every waking moment talking about it, absorbing every word of advice and hungry for more.

Their story has been featured on this website (Read it here: Part one and Part two), but looking back, it’s clear they have grown so much. Two key things stand out:

Confidence

The first launch was a real disappointment. Sales were poor and they came home devastated. But after a couple of days, they had picked themselves up, reflected on what could be done better and started working on the changes.

 

Happy-Hens-young-entrepreneur-portrait-CBF-blog

Catherine (l) and Michelle (r) at the Children’s Business Fair

When it was time for the next fair, they were ready to try out their new ideas. Here, they exceeded expectations – their products flew!

Their experience helped demonstrate, in a very practical way, the importance of growing from failure. I see this now playing out in other areas. They’ve developed a confidence that allows them to say to themselves – I can try things, and it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work – I can always try again.

Communication

Selling products to strangers has been a truly fabulous experience. 

They’ve learned to stand up straight, and look people in the eye when talking to them and to speak clearly and with confidence. They now anticipate questions and understand the importance of being prepared with great answers. And they’ve learned how to answer questions in a way that builds a conversation and keep it going.

Taking part in the CBF has been one of the best learning opportunities my children have ever had. I’m excited to see where their experiences will take them.

 

Find out more about Catherine and Michelle’s entrepreneurial adventures here.

Find out more about young entrepreneurs at the Children’s Business Fair and beyond.