building, and clean restrooms. They realized the importance of having employees who are kind, cheerful and attentive.
When I was asked to be a mystery shopper at Walmart I was told to go to a certain department, find a worker, and ask
them for an item that was always located
far from that particular department. The
trained employee (at that time) was supposed to make eye contact, smile, and
take me to the correct department. That
rarely happened, but now and then an
employee performed as expected. My
children learned from this. At one store
the goal was to get a salesman to promote
the advantages of a certain product and
when he did just that then I could stop
him and give him a $50 bonus. Unfortunately, instead of promoting the product,
he criticized it. My children learned from
that as well. We often had the children
check out the restrooms to give us their
opinion before we observed the situation
and they soon learned why this is important to an establishment.
In lieu of being an actual mystery shopper, but to gain from this experience,
make up simple surveys that include relevant questions and have your children
rate establishments when convenient.
You could even make up certificates to
hand out when you come across businesses that do well in every area! Spend
one day visiting several fast food businesses. You will probably find
Chick-fil-A® to be at the top of the list when compared to other establishments. Discuss
this with your children and take a tour
behind the scenes at a Chick-fil-A® (many
stores offer this, but there may be an age
requirement). One can learn a lot about
entrepreneurship by studying the
Another suggestion to implement that
helps stimulate entrepreneurial ideas is to
study inventions and inventors. Because
I am a firm believer in homeschooling
co-op style, we centered an entire semester of co-op on inventors and inventions.
We studied the history of invention from
beginning to present day and each week
the students gave presentations on inven-
tions. The students were also assigned
to come up with a unique invention by
the end of co-op that they then present-
ed with either a model or a diagram of
their invention. They were encouraged
to enter contests for new inventions as
well. When students learn that some in-
ventions come about because of purpose
and intention while others come about
by accident (like the microwave oven)
their wheels began to turn. It is almost as
simple as explaining the quote, “Neces-
sity is the mother of invention” and then
challenge the students to keep a journal
of areas that are frustrating or difficult, so
that they can think about how to make
life better in those areas.
Explain the difference between invention and innovation. Some interesting
inventions to study are the potato chip,
the sandwich, silly putty and Velcro! As
you see new products on the market that
solve old problems, point them out to
your children. As an example of innovation discuss the changes in the telephone.
When I was a child we had rotary phones,
attached to the wall, with party lines!
A great inventor to study is George
Washington Carver. He patented a few
inventions and then stopped, believing
that he did not have the right to claim
ownership to ideas he felt were given
to him from God. That’s a discussion to
pursue with your children.
A wonderful book to read when
studying inventions is Carry On Mr.
Bowditch— the biography of a self-taught
boy who became a mathematician and is
credited for publishing a comprehensive
reference book for seaman. Studying
inventions in a group setting encourages brainstorming. Break up the students into small groups and give them a
problem to solve. Award the team which
comes up with the best idea for solving
Another great way to plant a seed and
grow an entrepreneur is to encourage
your child to have his/her own business.
Lemonade stands have long been a great
way to teach children about business.
When my daughter wanted to have a
stand in our yard I cautioned her that we
lived on a busy street and I doubted many
would stop. I charged her for the products she would be using so she would
Every event can be
a learning event
whether it is financially
rewarding or not.