Everything We Know About Entrepreneurship We Learned in Kindergarten

We all possess the building blocks of entrepreneurship inside of us. Do you know what they are?

Today small businesses represent 99.7% of all U.S. employers. So how did we get here? After all, everything begins somewhere. When we were small, it was kindergarten. Now it’s entrepreneurship. But did we really learn to become entrepreneurs way back in kindergarten? Yes, and here’s why…

Seeing ourselves bestowed confidence. On the first day of school, you were probably asked to draw a self-portrait. Simple enough today, but back then it might have been an insurmountable task. Your end product probably consisted of a giant head teetering atop a thin line drawn for a body and circles punctuating pairs of equally thin arms and legs. It certainly wasn’t how our parents saw us, or how they saw themselves, but it was pretty much how a kindergartner viewed things at the time.

So what does that self-portrait look like today? Potential clients want to do business with an actual person, not a corporate representative or a technology machine. It doesn’t matter how you see yourself, but how your clients (and potential clients) see you. What do you represent when you walk in the door? Go ahead and draw the picture—even if it’s not what you envision. Give yourself a pat on the back for having done it, and then draw a new picture of how your clients want to see you and compare the two. Give them what they want and you are on your way to successful entrepreneurship.

Art taught perseverance and how to create. Paintbrushes, modeling clay, crayons—ahhh, the monikers of kindergarten. What can we take from those simpler days when our biggest worry might’ve been what mom packed for lunch? Jumping into entrepreneurship and creating a new business is much like molding clay—bending, shaping, and twisting until you get it just right. Starting a business comes with a lot of stops and starts—add this, take that away, ideas that don’t materialize—and that’s OK. Just pick up that clay, roll it into a ball, and start over.

Building imparted vision. The block center comes to mind here. I think all of us entrepreneurs got our start here. Square letter blocks, colored multi-shaped blocks, or Lincoln Logs, we learned quickly that starting with small blocks (a few good ideas) and moving on to the larger ones would cause our structure to teeter and crash. No good. We had to start with the large blocks (basic principles and premises that ground company ideals) and work our way up, building off of the foundation so that our structure could grow evenly, steadily, wisely.

Classroom experience granted optimism. We had to learn not to talk when the teacher was talking, to pay attention when our classmates spoke, to work with others, to respect others’ opinions and feelings even if they were different from our own, and to apologize when we hurt someone or made a mistake.

So how does this all translate to the cacophony of voices that surround us today? It’s one thing to have a business idea, to want to be an entrepreneur, but it’s another to carry it out. No one does it alone. We have partners, advisors (SCORE and SBA to name a few), and associates. We have to listen—I mean really listen—to all of them, even if their opinions differ from our own. Don’t interrupt. Pay attention because they are part of your team and you just might learn something valuable from someone else’s insights and experiences. And above all, if we make a mistake, we must apologize—especially to a client. A simple, “I’m sorry,” goes a long way to earning respect.

Playing applied teamwork. Remember sharing, taking turns, and playing on a team? All are vital roles in being an entrepreneur and running a company. Employees have great ideas, so let them play and take turns too. Let them share and be part of the team; even implement their ideas at least on a trial basis. If an idea works, you’ve moved your company forward. If not, you tried. Your employees will respect you for showing respect and listening, then reward you with even more great ideas. Just as no single football player ever carried a team to the Super Bowl, entrepreneurship is a team effort. Every player has a crucial role on that road, building on the smaller successes of every practice and game until they reach the goal together.

What else did you learn in kindergarten?

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