The old adage is, “go to school, get good grades, and get a job.” Is that the best we can encourage our children to do? – Rich Dad
Think how much different (and better) the world would be if we had more entrepreneurs in it. Entrepreneurs are dreamers and problem solvers. They help shape the future.
To help the future “get here faster” we need more types of people who usher it in. But, we’re largely failing to do that. Failing to create an environment that says it’s okay for kids to learn to be entrepreneurs. And doing very little to actively encourage them.
In many respects, our school system is part of the problem. We teach kids from an early age to fit neatly into the existing corporate structure. And not to imagine a world beyond it. Giving our kids an allowance reinforces the idea that work in exchange for a steady paycheck is a good thing. And, that anything else is simply inconceivable.
There is a better way.
If your child displays even a hint of entrepreneurial spirit, there are specific things you can do to encourage that. If you nurture those traits while your kids are young, they become a natural extension of who the children are and become as adults. This is probably the greatest gift because it will open so many doors for them when they leave the nest. And probably soon well before then.
Here are specific ways to nurture the entrepreneurial spark in your children:
It’s easy to spot problems. Everybody can do that. But most people go no further. Get your kids in the habit of asking the question. “Okay – so what can we do to fix this?” Praise your kids when they point out small problems and encourage them to think of positive solutions.
This simple way to foster creativity doesn’t need any real imagination to identify a problem or need. It DOES take a creative spark to imagine a solution. The process begins with the identification of a need currently being unmet. Consider problems as opportunities for creative problem solving.
Further Enhancing Creativity
There are other things you can do to boost your children’s creativity. Make a subtle change to the “bed time story” routine. On some nights, pick a random collection of objects and encourage your kids to tell YOU stories weaving in the objects you have selected. That small change can have profound impact in the long run as young minds start thinking “outside the box.” Story time becomes an act of participation rather than of passivity. This is meaningful change for sure.
Ditch the concept of “allowance.” Instead, give your kids a list of things you need done. Negotiate with them on the price. The “price” won’t always be money. You might trade certain tasks for, say, a later bed time. Absolutely encourage this!
Here, you’re breaking your kids out of the mindset of expecting a regular “paycheck.” Go further and encourage them to begin identifying opportunities around the house, finding things that need doing and approaching you with an offer.
Learning Financial Literacy
Every successful entrepreneur has learned the value of money early on. Something you should strive to teach your children. A practical strategy: open not one, but two savings accounts for them. Half of everything they earn goes into the “Fun” account, and the other half goes into the “Savings” account. They can do what they want with the “Fun” account. Periodically, go to the bank with them to move their savings into a better paying investment account.
By installing an app called ACORNS on a smart phone, every purchase they make from their fun account will be rounded to the nearest dollar. The spare change goes into an investment fund. This way, you teach the kids power and wisdom of investing and compound interest.
Selling and Marketing
Selling and marketing are lifelong skills. Encourage children to sell small items such as their old toys, used books, handmade goods. Or propose services such as mowing the lawn, washing cars, walking dogs. Let them price the products and services they are selling and facilitate sale transactions. Children can learn salesmanship by seeking useful tasks to do around the house. Have them make their proposal to you and negotiate how they will be paid for their effort.
Encourage children to pay attention to advertising materials. Ask them why some printed advertisements, story headlines, television ads catch their attention. Learn what they like about the messages. Encourage them to create their own marketing materials for their business ideas.
Teach your children the importance of goal setting. Help them define what “meeting their goal” means to their project. This means understanding how a simple “wish list” becomes reality by identifying steps or tasks and applying a realistic timeline to complete them.
If the children negotiate to do work for you, they are expected to deliver results. If not, they are not paid. With no “regular paycheck” or allowance, they must think about how to deliver what they’ve negotiated with you.
Teach them to set and meet smaller goals in shorter timeframes. Have them write down as many goals as they want. Ask them to pick the top 5 and then choose ONE that is the most meaningful and will have the biggest and best impact on their life. Write down the steps required to accomplish their goal and encourage them to begin taking those small steps toward their life goal.
It’s Ok to Fail
Sometimes, the pitches and action plan will not be convincing and they will fail. Encourage them to try again. Actively engage, negotiate and renegotiate with them. Allowing your children to fail and try again will teach them that failure is not only okay but it is a valuable learning tool.
This is a lesson not learned in school that seeks to minimize and to avoid failure altogether.
Most important of all, however, is that by making these few, simple changes, you’ll be teaching your children how to lead and how to take initiative, instilling them with the self-confidence so vital to their success in adulthood.
Giving is Receiving
Teach your children to “pay themselves first.” Also, teach them to GIVE. This attribute will create a sense of self-satisfaction and help them to stay humble during great success. Ask them to choose a charity or special cause of their interest to support. A small amount of what they earn can make a huge difference in someone’s life.
All great businesses contribute to improving the life of others.
Give your children the tools and the opportunities to succeed. You’ll be amazed by what they show you. Take the leap!
“ Every child is gifted. They just unwrap their packages at different times.” – Unknown