See if your child has what it takes to be the next Silicon Valley success story. A flair for coding may become clear even before a child learns to read.
In The Wall Street Journal’s small-business report, I wrote about how we can nurture tech entrepreneurs—those young stars who will create the next Snapchat or Facebook FB, +0.55% But how do you know whether your child might have what it takes? Here are five signs he or she might just be the next Silicon Valley success story:
1) They want to sell their work. Natural-born hustlers have one question when their parents praise their latest art project or Lego creation: “Do you think somebody would buy it?” Children who are excited about running garage sales or lemonade stands; children who want to sell their craft projects on Etsy; ETSY, +2.03% children who keep their action figures in the box to maximize resale value: these are ones who think about how to turn their passions into a business. That makes them a lot more likely to take their brilliant idea — like the app or site they set up while still in school — and turn it into a profitable venture.
2) They think in code. While not every tech entrepreneur needs to be a coder, most teen entrepreneurs are children who build their own apps. Children who are passionate about coding, particularly from an early age, are the kind who can master enough code to write their own full-scale applications while still in high school. That aptitude may become clear before a child learns to read, if they love apps and games that teach the fundamentals of coding by offering puzzles that are basically logic gates. Or it may show up as a passion for building with redstone in Minecraft — essentially Minecraft’s version of programming. The sooner you can get these kinds to move from coding games to actual programming, the better.
3) They are obsessed with money. Some children are intrinsically fascinated with money. These are the children who round up the spare change from around the house, and hide it under their mattress, who try to set a dollar price on every parental request, or who keep careful track of their allowance, possibly saving it up for a major purchase. These are children who are likely to be motivated by the idea of earning their first million — and who may shy away from college in favor of something with more immediate, tangible returns.
4) They learn from failure. Before you can be a successful entrepreneur, you have to be a failed entrepreneur. Even people who ultimately succeed with their very first startup invariably experience failures along the way. So if you have the kind of child who gives up when confronted with a challenge, or finds it painful to look at their own failures, they’re going to have a hard time surviving and learning from the mistakes they make in business. Children who have resilience and grit, and who are willing to learn from their failures, are much more likely to stick with their entrepreneurship dreams and see their startup through to success.
5) They dive deep. Children who enjoy trying a wide range of different activities or who excel in a range of different subjects may have very successful careers as generalists, or find the one thing that they are incredibly passionate about when they reach college. But those who are willing to pour their hearts and souls into a single endeavor are the ones who are most likely to launch a successful business early in life, because they’re willing to forego their other interests and activities to pursue this one business.
Alexandra Samuel is a technology researcher and the author of “Work Smarter with Social Media.”