Accidental Entrepreneur: How to raise your teenagers with Entrepreneurship Mindset?

Ruban Kanapathippillai
4 min readApr 23, 2022

Hi Everyone,

Welcome to my 36th weekly article as this week is called “How to raise your teenagers with Entrepreneurship Mindset?”

When I reflect on my life, the various adverse experiences I faced growing up is what ultimately helped me build the necessary resilience and creative skills to thrive in entrepreneurship.

In this article I go over what are some of the key characteristics that the next generation can be adopt and leverage to build a successful foundation for their entrepreneurial careers.

Also be sure to check out my Youtube channel for more content!

“எனைத்தானும் நல்லவை கேட்க அனைத்தானும்

ஆன்ற பெருமை தரும்”. — திருக்குறள் (416)

“Let a person listen, never so little, to good (instruction),

even that will bring him/her great dignity”. — Thirukkural (416)

In my last article I discussed how to build a foundation for entrepreneurship from a very young age. Once the foundation is set, then the learning and experimenting begins. In my life it was during my teen years growing up around my family and community as well as the hardship we faced due to the civil war in Sri Lanka. Even with all the challenges, I was blessed to be able to learn foundational knowledge and experiment with a few of those ideas in my teen years. Today I am going to touch on a few of the key learnings from that period in my life which set the foundation for my future success. Prior to elaborating on my learnings, restate the 4 P’s for success: (You can refer to my Week 35 article for details on these Ps)

  • P1: People
  • P2: Product
  • P3: Process
  • P4: Partnership

At our teen ages, we are evolving, forming opinions, trying out different things and forming long term habits. Here are a few of the important points for young people to consider during that period:

  1. Early Exposure to Innovation and Creativity (P3): There are so many small and big problems that need creative solutions. Getting exposure to those problems early and coming up with creative solutions early in life, regardless of the outcome, provides foundations for learning. During the civil war in Sri Lanka, due to the scarcity of materials, our community innovated just by using bicycle dynamos as electricity generators for studying and listening to music on the radio which required electricity to operate.
  2. Collaborate with a Diverse Team (P1): Learning to work with people from diverse backgrounds, ages, and capabilities, is most critical as I engage with many companies. Diverse people bring diverse ideas and different approaches to solve problems. Working with people with diverse backgrounds and learning their approaches expands everyone’s knowledge as well as provides the temperament to incorporate others in problem solving and building scalable companies.
  3. Take Leadership and Risk (P1 & P4): Leadership skill requires experimentation, adjustment and expressing the ideas with conviction. Learning these characteristics by participating in community events, sports groups or class projects help mold one’s leadership skills. My entrance into leadership came when I led our village youth group for annual religious celebrations and when I became the captain of the local cricket team which we won the championship under my captainship. Those lessons I learned during those leadership opportunities provided me with a great foundation for leading and managing people.
  4. Foundational Technology and Business Principles (P2 & P3): As one goes through middle and high school, schools provide opportunities for students to take so many classes. Even for those not interested in a technical or science career, it is important to learn the foundational technologies. It can be science as well as business. I was fortunate enough to study under great teachers who taught Math, Physics, Chemistry as well as Commerce and Accounting. I couldn’t believe those basic principles I learnt at a young age were helpful during my higher education as well as I still use some of those now for making deals and solving problems.
  5. Breaking down Complex Tasks and Goal setting (P3): Difference between successful entrepreneur and failed ones most of the time is how a great idea got executed into a product. Learning to break down the projects into smaller manageable pieces and executing a plan by setting good goals, at an early age, trains people for facing complex projects in the future.
  6. Problem Solving Skills (P3): Life of an entrepreneur is solving real life problems and in the process creating a business and making money for oneself along with stakeholders. Learning about it early in life and experimenting as well as developing a mindset to confidently solve the problems will help in the future.
  7. Resiliency (P1-P4): Above 6 points are important and table stakes for success. Final item is resilience which is the one that puts it over the top. I lost my father at 12 years old, my school was burnt down and shut down during the majority of secondary school years, while living through a bloody war; I could have easily gone in the wrong way and failed. I survived and thrived by learning to live through all these times. That resilience helped me drive and become successful during my startup journey.



Ruban Kanapathippillai

Entrepreneur, Founder of multiple successful startups, Mentor/coach, Angel investor (Sandhill Angels) and Positive thinker