If you do, they'll grow up better human beings, even if they never become an entrepreneur.
Now that I’m a father, I’m committed to passing on my entrepreneurial spirit to my daughter. While she can, of course, decide if she wants to be an entrepreneur or not, I believe that there are things I can show and teach her that may help her realize the benefits over any traditional career.
It’s never too early to start teaching your kids the entrepreneurial skills they need to succeed. While some of my advice here is still beyond my daughter’s age, it’s my game plan for her based on the experiences of my colleagues and what my own parents instilled in me.
Goals are important for anyone, but especially for entrepreneurs who will be going at their careers alone. An entrepreneur must have a framework to follow if they want to continually advance with their startups.
Take the time to explain what goals mean to your kids and show them your own goal chart or list that you make for each day, month, quarter and year. Let your budding entrepreneur see you cross off the tasks when they are done — complete with the “Yay!” written out to the side of something difficult that is accomplished.
Have your child create five goals each year with you that you can revisit later to see if they have met them. Make sure you show them how to create the action steps they need for accomplishing each one. Some kids even need actual steps drawn on a paper and a timeline on those stairs with what can be done by this step.
It is helpful to let this child determine what they want to do in their life and not to even suggest or make any part of this creation about you. Sometimes a goal will seem foolish to you — but your dreams were probably foolish at the time to many others. The goal doesn’t matter as much as a process.
Of course, make the goals applicable to their age and abilities. But if a 10-year-old insists they are going to build a car this year, bringing home a model car to make is not a bad idea. (LEGO has about anything you want to build these days and you can put a motor in them — make them run.)
The goal could be something like learning a new skill like coding, working on a community project, or keeping their room clean throughout the year. (Sorry, the clean room would be your goal — I know it!)
One note of caution — every person I’ve ever talked to mentions the idea of offering a reward for each goal a child achieves. Personally, I would be very cautious in this area. Maybe consider merely saying something like, “be sure and think how you will reward yourself for doing this.”
As a teenager, I decided to reward myself by getting another job really early in the morning before school, which I was sure my parents would disapprove of — and they did. But, it was my reward to me.
Show them how to turn a problem or worry into a solution because this can help them identify opportunities that they could exploit as a future profitable business for themselves. Say things like, “oh jeez, I wish I had invented that.” Or, “I hope someone comes up with a way to call to their car and have it show up at the door — maybe you will.” And, “I wonder how they thought of that?”
Problems are relative to age and development so something like a soggy sandwich or trouble with reaching something they need in the kitchen are huge issues to a child. These are excellent opportunities to show your kids how they can turn those problems into solutions — like creating an invention that stops soggy lunchbox sandwiches or provides access to that top shelf.
When your child wants something on that top shelf — take the time to say, “Okay if I weren’t here, how would you get that.” Have a look on your face that has absolute confidence that they can and will figure it out — by themselves, because they do figure it out, and usually in a way that you, as the parent, never thought of. Always have the attitude of — “Hey, I knew all along that you can do anything.”
Focus on financial literacy and the value of money. The lack of financial literacy adversely impacts many adult entrepreneurs who never learned how to manage any money they had all the way down to childhood when they received an allowance. This might be due to fact that their parents never showed them the value of money, including how to save it, how to determine when and how to use money, and just how far money stretches or doesn’t.
Perhaps these parents thought the school system would teach their children about money, but it is really up to us to start instilling “money matters” early on. The schools just don’t teach this process.
This doesn’t have to be a big mean topic or anything huge. My parents took me down and opened a savings account for me when I was 8 years old and asked me how I was going to fill it. My mom said, “I want half of everything you make in that bank account, and you don’t touch it, and you do what you want with the rest.” It was so awesome to watch the money grow. I couldn’t wait to put more money in there.
While I was young I had a cushion to fall back on (e.g., living at home, food provided, most clothing my parents would pay half, etc.) but, as a teenager I went on a wild spending spree. When the money was gone, it was gone. But, I lived at home, so I could fall gently and learn gently, without the terribly harsh realities kicking me in the head like the real world does. But, I still didn’t touch the savings, and I knew I had it. It felt safe. As a result of saving half of everything, I had just over $20,000 in that savings account by the time I was 19.
Money doesn’t work quite how it did when I was younger, but when I wanted money my parents would say, “I wonder if someone in the neighborhood needs their lawn mowed (or snow shoveled depending on the season).”
On a good leaf day (after a big wind) I could zoom from neighbor to neighbor and make all kinds of money. On a good snow day, there was an unlimited supply of money to be made if I hustled. The snow plow comes past and blocks the driveways — I could clean up like crazy and really make some cash.
I don’t plan on just giving my daughter pocket money; she will have to earn it, save part of it, and determine how she will be able to buy some of the things she would like to have. That’s because the real world doesn’t just hand us money and let us use it however we want it. But, the realities of the real world will hit in a safer environment where she can succeed.
I want my child to earn money by doing chores, helping me in my own business, or starting up her own business. From there, I plan on teaching her about the types of bank accounts, why saving and investing are important, and how some of our money must be given away as taxes, bills and expenses, and charity.
In order to think up disruptive business ideas that others haven’t yet I have to encourage my child to be creative and do things differently than others around them. Our need to mimic others or do what they do for social acceptance comes at an early age because we don’t know who we are yet. Unfortunately, some never grow out of this mentality.
Instead, I want to minimize giving my child some of the products that encourage them to copy what others have already thought of. Rather, I’d like her to work with those items that are really blank slates and let them develop into what she might imagine. My sister says that cancer would be cured if someone would just make video games with the specific type of cancer or problem that needs to be fixed.
Encouraging reading, (and read to them) imaginative play, and simple toy selection are ways to teach creativity early on rather than have them focus on copying what others have already thought up for them.
Praise of failure
I don’t believe it’s a good idea to scold children for failing. Instead, any place where they have not succeeded is actually a lesson and point for discussion with my child. I plan on talking with my daughter about what might have gone wrong and asking her what she sees might be a way to prevent it from happening again. I want her to know about places I have failed and show her why it led me to a future success.
As a parent, it really is about giving your child the confidence they need to pick themselves up and try again from what they learned. After all, if they only ever succeeded at everything, they will never know how to get themselves out of a failure in the future, because mistakes will be bound to happen over and over to them at some point. Better to start early learning why failure is necessary.
While my child entrepreneurship started with a paper route, it was a good example of what a business might be like. I had to keep track of my customers, their orders, and their payments. I also had to market myself to others in the neighborhood in hopes of winning their business. You can do the same with your children — from a lemonade stand or cookie business to babysitting or jewelry making to a lawn-mowing service.
Talk with your child about what they are really interested in, including any hobbies they currently have, and determine how they could make money from it. Work with them on a basic business plan and mentor them through the process. There are many examples of young entrepreneurs that even became millionaires at the ripe old age of 10.
Finally, social responsibility is very important to me as an entrepreneur. That’s why I plan on teaching my daughter about the importance of doing things for others, whether that is volunteering, donating to a charity, raising money, or generating and implementing a business idea that is focused on helping others have a better life.
Even though we had money, my parents had us kids help serve at a soup kitchen in our town, we also took food to local women’s shelters, and many other “pet” projects that my family dreamed up to help others. As a family and with my child’s participation in my business, we will be doing many of these activities to illustrate the value of this entrepreneurial trait of giving.
Start as early as possible
Everything in your child’s life is a good way to teach entrepreneurship. Even the smallest things can be directed toward having them understand a little better how an entrepreneur works.
I also plan to lead by example, doing more than just telling her what it’s like. My daughter will see me enacting the traits of an entrepreneur and she will take a hand’s-on role in my business and whatever idea she wants to develop, I will help her.
The important thing is to start now!
Article last modified on January 25, 2017. Published by Debt.com, LLC .