I just survived Super Bowl Sunday as I’m writing this. I live about 100 steps from a small-town grocery store. Right outside, stuck in a little clump of February 1st snow, was a Kid entrepreneurs.jpghand-made sign: Get Your Girl Scout Cookies Inside.


It’s the second of February, for Buddha’s sake! Most people’s willpower for their New Year’s diet resolutions is as dirty and stunted as the snowbank that sign was stuck into. Sure, I went into the store for berries and carrots and a veggie platter.


But if you think I came out of that store having purchased just one box of Thin Mints, then you don’t know a single thing about my willpower.


I bought two boxes of Thin Mints, one of the lemonades, one shortbread, and whatever that coconut one is called.


Why? Because these girls did a bang-up job of selling me on this. They asked, “Are you having people over for the Super Bowl?”


“Yes,” I lied. My two kids and I were the “people.”


“Oh, then you know they’ll want these! Maybe for the halftime show!”


Entrepreneurship - Learn from A Kid


Kids are so much smarter than we are. They don’t worry as much (about the same things grownups worry about, at least). They don’t care about whether they need an LLC or an S-Corp. They don’t rush to Staples to print business cards and buy up some variant URLs.


They act like entrepreneurs:


  • Here’s a need
  • I can fill that need
  • That need generates a reward
  • Sure, there’s some risk but I’ll try it
  • I’ll fix what breaks


That’s it. That’s how kids do what they do. They want money to pick up a new game for their Nintendo Switch? They walk around and ask, “What can I sell?” “Who needs something?”


My kids are 14 and almost 18. They’ve had Redbubble accounts and Bandcamp accounts and all kinds of platforms where they can sell art and music and creative products online for years now. They spread the word with their friends. But because they’re kids, especially teenagers, they make it all “no big deal” and just talk about it matter-of-factly.


Kids Don’t Care About Forever


One absolutely beautiful detail about how a kid treats entrepreneurship is that it’s about serving a customer and their need, not about building some kind of “forever” business. Grownups treat it that way because it’s the most often cited example. Companies form in someone’s garage and then go on to become blue chips and massive.


But plenty of companies do their job well and then vanish. Netscape changed the world by delivering the best and most people-friendly Internet browser back in the day. It changed the world. And then shut down, all within five years.


What we forget to think and believe and accept is that we are not our companies. That’s the point of entrepreneurship. We serve a need. We work to fulfill that need. We create or shut down companies to support the structure of that need fulfillment.


Kids Aren’t (as) Self Conscious


Kids just put it out there. Sure, they can be shy. But kids just say, “Hey, I made a thing. Want one?” They know that people either do or they don’t. And for the most part, they don’t tie their self-worth to the product they’re selling. Even (and this is vital) if what they’re selling is their own creative output.


Kids are willing to sell because they think you might also have a similar need or interest. They’ll tweak their product to match your need. It’s not exactly about landing the sale. It’s about whether you helped out.


Kids love to feel pride and a sense of accomplishment, but when they lose, they don’t fixate on it as much.


And that brings me to a very important point: kids are more used to failure when they’re younger because they’ve had fewer deeply life-changing experiences as a result of failure.


It's worth learning this part alone.


Entrepreneurship is Vital, Even for Employees


For well over a decade, I’ve taught big companies to think more like an entrepreneurial endeavor. Why? Because corporations get too locked into any one system and forget the simple rules of entrepreneurship: there aren’t any rules - just sell someone something they need.


Strip it down to these five guideposts:


  • Here’s a need
  • I can fill that need
  • That need generates a reward
  • Sure, there’s some risk but I’ll try it
  • I’ll fix what breaks


From that, you’ve got a chance of teaching grownups to be as good at running a straightforward business as a kid might. It’s worth the effort.


Oh, and if I put the Girl Scout cookie boxes in the recycling, it’s almost like we didn’t eat all of them.



About Chris Brogan


Chris Brogan is an author, keynote speaker and business advisor who helps companies update organizational interfaces to better support modern humans. The age of factory-sized interactions is over. We all come one to a pack. And it’s time to accept that we are all a little bit dented. Chris advises leadership teams to empower team members by chris Brogan headshot.pngsharing actionable insights on talent development. He also works with marketing and communications teams to more effectively reach people who want to be seen and understood before they buy what a company sells.


Web: https://chrisbrogan.com Twitter: @ChrisBrogan

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Bank of America, N.A. engages with Chris Brogan to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Chris Brogan. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.


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