Stop providing your teen with all the answers. Here's how to encourage an entrepreneurial mindset

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"Take risks and look at failure as a learning opportunity to help avoid negativity." Photo: Mohammad Faruque/Unsplash.
"Take risks and look at failure as a learning opportunity to help avoid negativity." Photo: Mohammad Faruque/Unsplash.
  • The Youth unemployment rate in South Africa remains a significant challenge that is not easy to tackle.
  • Entrepreneurship has been heralded as the solution to this problem but does every teenager out there have an entrepreneurial mindset?
  • We speak to Momentum Metropolitan's Nkosinathi Mahlangu about how to encourage this mindset in teenagers. 

An entrepreneurial mindset is a 'self-starter' mindset that describes how one acts in every aspect of life, according to Nkosinathi Mahlangu, a Youth Employment Portfolio Head at Momentum Metropolitan.

It is the mindset that enables someone to identify and leverage new opportunities, take accountability or change direction when needed, and it typically goes hand-in-hand with resilience.

This mindset would help teenagers today since the unemployment rate remains a big challenge that is not easy to tackle in South Africa. In the first quarter of 2022 alone, the unemployment rate stood at 34.5%, a huge number compared to other African countries.

The graduate unemployment rate increased from 11% to 12.5% in the third financial quarter of 2021, proving that education no longer guarantees employment these days.

Entrepreneurship has been heralded as the cure-all to SA's skyrocketing unemployment. Yet not everyone is inclined or designed to be an entrepreneur.

Even so, Mahlangu believes that focusing on creating and nurturing an entrepreneurial mindset in young people will make them more employable.

Read: 'Unlocking entrepreneurial mindsets': Here’s how the DBE plans on reducing youth unemployment

But, how can this mindset be nurtured? Here's a few ways parents can assist their children in thinking like an entrepreneur. 

Find a suitable mentor

According to Mahlangu, finding a suitable mentor to help navigate your entrepreneurial journey – preferably someone already in the business space and closer to your area of living for easier access is the first step, as he believes that asking for help is a strength attribute.

Failure as a learning opportunity 

Mahlangu believes that seeking out challenging situations is the next step because entrepreneurship is about finding solution. He encourages teenagers to take risks and see failure as a learning opportunity to help avoid negativity.

A good idea is never enough 

Being innovative in your approach or ideas is very important to developing the entrepreneurial mindset, according to Mahlangu.

He explains that innovation doesn't necessarily mean something completely new but could also enhance an already existing opportunity or idea. He adds that a good idea is never enough if not acted upon or executed.

Must read: Parenting the boss: why you should support your child's entrepreneurship dreams

A clear vision of the future

Mahlangu says that an entrepreneurial mindset requires a clear vision of what needs to be achieved post-school. He suggests that teens start with the end in mind to help keep focus as they reflect on their future. This includes the willingness to learn as one continues to absorb information to develop.

Don't forget to rest

Mahlangu says that entrepreneurship can be demanding and draining, so please take time to rest and recover.

Inspire lateral thinking

Mahlangu says that curiosity is an essential trait in the entrepreneurially-minded. He says that teenagers should be encouraged to be creative and be given projects without much direction as that will make them think creatively.

He notes that while they may initially struggle, it will give them a chance to start seeking opportunities and to take the initiative, which is a powerful trait.

Don't provide all the answers

Mahlangu encourages parents of teenagers to stop providing them with all the answers. Instead, give them a chance to find their own solutions to problems.

He adds that this allows them to assess a situation, analyse the problem, and identify a solution. If the solution doesn't work as intended, another important lesson is learnt: failure.

Set an example

Mahlangu highlights resilience as a critical trait of the entrepreneurially-minded, and he says it starts with taking accountability. He believes the best step for teaching teenagers to be accountable starts with parents being examples to their children.

For instance, he says when you make a mistake, admit it without shame and share what you learned.

He says this will make them recognise the role of their actions in contributing to their future success or failure and that they should own both their wins and mistakes.

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