Entrepreneur before Kindergarten?
When people ask me about where or when my entrepreneurial journey began I can’t say during my time at a prestigious college or in a Silicon Valley garage (even though that would be really cool). Instead, my entrepreneurial path is an uncommon one. I started at four years old at a flea market. I wanted to start a candy stand so my mom bought me some candy from the local wholesale club and made me some custom business cards on her computer.
The entrepreneurial bug continued to bite me all throughout my my early school years. From anonymous gossip magazines to competing with the cafeteria’s cookies, I did it all. My mom rarely even knew about my endeavors until she got a call from the principle.
My Mom, Inc.
My mom never suggested I start businesses but she definitely led by example. She never pushed me out of the room during tough financial conversations or business strategy meetings; instead I soaked up every moment. I wasn’t always reaping the spoils of her hard work either. I never went to extravagant summer programs and often didn’t have the same designer clothes/handbags or technology that my friends had. My mom believed in making me wait for things until I was old enough to appreciate and respect nice things before getting them for me.
I didn’t start wearing Abercrombie or Victoria’s Secret ANYTHING until I was in high school, which is also when I got my first cell phone, I got my first Ugg boots when I was 16, first laptop that was *all mine* was a used MacBook Pro I got as a 16th birthday present (long after I started my business), and my first car? She told me I’d have to buy it myself… and I did. Just a few weeks ago I picked up a used 2007 Chevy Cobalt that I named “Bumblebee” after my favorite transformer. We’re soulmates.
To Parents, from Tori
The point of all of this is that there’s one question I get a lot: “How can I make my daughter just like YOU?” My immediate answer is always that you can’t, but here’s why.
As much as you are in charge of them, you are never in control of them.
You also cannot give your kids mixed messages their whole life and expect them to make good choices for themselves when the time comes!
“Work hard, but I’ll give you everything so you don’t have to.”
“Appreciate what you have, but I’ll keep giving you more.”
“Learn how to manage your finances well, but I don’t want to tell you about mine.”
“Go to college (ahem, get into debt) to do something you love, but make sure you’ll make lots of money doing it (so you can afford to pay back that debt).”
The list goes on and on…
But what do I know?
I know, I’m not a Mom, but I AM a daughter. I can imagine it’s hard for you. I think (from what I’ve heard) parents love their kids SO MUCH, that they want to ensure everything is going to be okay, have a good life, a good childhood, and eventually be successful. You don’t want your kids to experience pain or sadness or disappointment, you want to protect them.
But the reality is that by shielding them from those things you rob them from receiving an EXTRAORDINARY gift: THEMSELVES.
One day when they will go out into the world and someone is going to hurt their feelings, let them down, and at some point they’re going to experience major failure. So how can you really protect them? By preparing them for that.
I wrote a very passionate Facebook post a few weeks ago about this topic. I see this protective “I’ll make sure everything’s okay” nature coming out in parents of young entrepreneurs especially. I see so many parents pushing their kids to entrepreneurship and then taking over (sometimes without even realizing) to make sure their entrepreneurial children aren’t too stressed, overwhelmed, etc. This is natural and even can be well intentioned, but in the end it has the potential to do more harm than good. It may feel downright UNATURAL to let go, but that is how kids shine: in their own light.
The world already has YOU. What my mother gave me in not doing it for me, was my own individuality. She didn’t try to create a version of her, she realized the privilege and honor of another life under her influence. I am my mother’s daughter, but I am also ME, and her approach has allowed me to be the kind if person that will chart their own course.
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