Why embracing your inner child can make you a better entrepreneur

Thinking outside the box by introducing elements such as fun and play can help you to develop a successful business

Children can teach entrepreneurs how to use their imagination and think outside the box. Getty
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Autumn means I get to spend more time with my younger cousins.

The more time I spend with my young relatives, the more I realise that there are many similarities between the business world and the playground, where we are now spending our cooler afternoons.

One of my young cousins asked if she could learn how to swim in my pool. I offered to teach her, as I have been swimming all my life.

It was an unexpected fun exercise. Every time she messed up, she would laugh about it.

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When she didn’t do something right, she would ask if she could do it again, and then again, until she got it right.

All in all, there was no pressure. We did that nearly every day until she learnt how to stay afloat at the deep end of the pool.

This led me to think about how I would react had I learnt to swim as an adult.

I would have taken the class seriously and would have felt embarrassed by my mistakes.

But it is not the same with children. They fall but then get up and try again.

The entire process is fun for them. I imagined what would happen if more entrepreneurs adopted a similar philosophy to how they managed their businesses.

We would probably learn more — and enjoy work and the business development process.

When I was a child, I wanted to try every possible activity. I didn’t care what it was, I wanted to try it.

As I grew older, I became more cautious and lost sight of what made experimentation as a child more fun for me — as is the case for many people.

But spending more time with children ignited that spark within me, a part of me that I thought I had lost touch with.

The children in my family reminded me that it is fine to continue dreaming big.

One of them proudly told me that when she grows up, she will own the biggest ice cream factory in the world.

Nothing else mattered. That was her vision and she didn’t think it was too audacious, nor doubt her capabilities of achieving her dream for one second.

If you look back, you will notice that many of us had big dreams once. But somewhere along the journey to adulthood, we lost that belief. People talked us out of them by telling us to stick to the well-beaten path and not take risks.

But we always need to remind ourselves that those who made it didn’t always have more advantages; they believed in their vision and worked towards it.

Spending time with children also taught me that fun and play should be part of that process.

Whether it is riding our bicycles, swimming or drawing, it is always a good time.

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Because we are spending so much of our time on building our businesses, it makes sense that we should also have a great time while doing it.
Manar Al Hinai

We would get up and twirl, listen to loud music or simply colour outside the lines.

Whatever it was, my younger cousins made sure we enjoyed it.

We should also remember this when we are building our businesses.

Because we are spending so much of our time on building our businesses, it makes sense that we should also have a great time while doing it.

But perhaps the most important lesson that children can teach entrepreneurs is to use their wild imagination and to remember to think outside the box.

As we finished a swimming class and enjoyed a bowl of chocolate ice cream, my cousin looked up at me and said: “My father thinks that there are some things in the world that can never be fixed, like my bike.”

I asked what she thought of her dad’s remarks and she replied: “I don’t think he thought hard enough. I just think he was too lazy to imagine.”

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi

Updated: October 17, 2022, 4:00 AM