5 Things Business Owners Can Learn From Kids

Forget that new book, course, or conference. The catalyst for the next big “a-ha” moment you need to up level your business skills and transform your leadership? It’s already in your own community – and possibly even your own home.

This untapped source of entrepreneurial insight? Kids!

The business world is no longer just for grown-ups. With the support of programs like Start-Up Kids Club in Austin, Texas, young people are stepping into their own as entrepreneurs, bringing with them some pretty powerful skills that every business owner can learn from.

Here are the top 5 lessons you can learn from the next generation of entrepreneurs: 

1. Play

What are kids 100% experts on? PLAY. And they take it pretty seriously! When kids engage in play, they often become fully engrossed, losing track of time, ignoring hunger signals and failing to register the sound of their caretakers calling them inside for the 100th time. For kids, play is not an “extra” to carve out time for in a busy schedule. It’s their framework for learning, discovery, connection and growth.

How does play relate to your business? It might just help your team achieve optimal performance through “flow states.” In his research, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi determined that flow – a state of engrossing, intrinsically rewarding activity – was essential to the productivity of employees.

And while breaking out the trivia or scheduling a company baseball game might not be the direct solution to your company’s productivity issues, engaging in play could help your team build their flow state “muscles” by helping them explore and better understand the power of intrinsic motivation.

2. Imagination

Kids live in a world of endless possibilities. Free from a lifetime of social conditioning and with a still-developing brain, kids spend a lot less time thinking about what should happen, and instead testing what could happen. This lack of prescribed thinking gives kids a creativity superpower: novel ideas and experimentation are the norm, not the exception. Unlike their hyper-rational (and maybe a little jaded?) caretakers, kids just don’t yet know what is not possible.

Next time you’re faced with a challenge in your business, tap into your imagination by letting go of “should” and “can’t.” Experiment. Test. Spend a little time in a kid’s world of possibilities.

3. Confidence

Kids know exactly what they are good at, and aren’t afraid to tell you about it – in detail. And they don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk. Whether that’s insisting you give their latest artistic masterpiece a place of honor on the fridge or showing off their awesome new dance move (20 or so times)… when it comes to their passions, kids have off the charts confidence.

How to channel this unselfconscious swagger in your own business? Celebrate your wins. Make a point to share wins with your team – often and in detail! – and watch your confidence take off.

4. Resilience

Anyone who has witnessed a tantrum in full force knows that kids REALLY feel their feelings. But the amazing thing about those ear-piercing feeling fests? They pass. Children are incredibly resilient, and can bounce from “end of the world” to “best day ever” so fast it will give you whiplash.

While embracing full-throttle, roller-coaster expressions of feelings on the job will definitely NOT foster the productive and harmonious work environment we all desire, we can use the extreme resilience of children to hold up a mirror to our own. Too often, resilience in adults is more about doggedly bearing stress – shutting down emotions to deal with later, or better yet, never – instead of processing experiences and truly bouncing back.

Check in – are you glossing over issues, or are you leading your company through adversity? Is your team truly resilient, or are they just reticent?

5. Teachability

While the teenagers in your life may vehemently deny it, kids know that they don’t know things, and are (usually) quite willing to leverage the wisdom and experience of those around them to help achieve their goals. Whether it’s tying shoe laces or putting a car in gear, kids are innately motivated to learn from those around them.

The Achilles’ heel of every business owner just might be thinking they “know best” and can “do it better” than anyone else. Take a page out of the kid’s manual: let go of that grown-up-know-it-all armor and leverage the expertise and insights of those around you to achieve new heights in your business.

So are you ready to take your business to the next level? Apply these tips from kid entrepreneurs. 

And to help support the next generation of leaders, Start-Up Kid’s Club of Austin, TX has partnered with Ascension Leadership Academy, a local leadership program, who is bringing together 28 volunteers to raise $117,000 for the non-profit.

You can get involved and support the cause directly here or at startupkidsclub.com