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Starting a business offers time, freedom, and higher earning potential than a traditional job, and the digital age has opened up more possibilities for starting a business than ever before. The younger generation, and their parents, are rethinking the necessity of an expensive college degree in favor of trade school or entrepreneurship instead.
Whether they go to college or not — education is always a good idea — instilling entrepreneurial qualities and skills in kids will benefit them for a lifetime. Characteristics like grit, ingenuity, persistence, and adaptability are common among entrepreneurs.
My parents influenced me to become an entrepreneur. Although my dad had a traditional job and my mom stayed home, they were always doing side jobs. They were “side hustlers” before the term existed. They would build fences, do clothing alterations, electrical wiring, teach voice lessons and more. They used their skills to make extra money and they put their kids to work, too. I learned from their actions — and their mistakes.
I jumped headfirst into owning my own business shortly after I finished college, and I’ve never looked back. I love being my own boss. Now my kids are following my lead and already looking for ways to make money. Here are five ways you can encourage the entrepreneurial spirit in your kids
Teach Them About Money
Money was rarely discussed in my household growing up. I had no idea how much money my parents made, what it cost to live, or how to invest. I did learn how to earn money and put some away into savings, which were important lessons.
My husband and I have been open with our kids about how much money we make, how much things cost, how a mortgage and credit cards work, and that money can grow if invested properly.
Let Them Work
Kids like to earn and spend money. It’s fun. Let them come up with ideas for earning money and empower them to make it happen. Kids can mow lawns, sell lemonade, cookies or homemade crafts, weed gardens, rake leaves, be a paid actor or model, babysit, and whatever else they can dream up. If they are going to sell an item, teach them how to calculate the cost of goods and what to charge to make a profit.
My first job at age 11 was babysitting the neighborhood kids. I made $2 per hour. Babysitters these days charge anywhere from $10 to $20 per hour, depending on the city. Talk about inflation. At age 14 I had a weekend job as a personal assistant and kept that job through high school. In college I worked to pay for my food, books, supplies, and tuition. I felt proud to be able to buy things with my own money.
Don’t Give Them Everything
When my kids ask for the latest video game console, candy at the store, or whatever else I don’t think they need at the moment, I tell them they can pay for it with their own money.
Each child has a bank account and debit card I keep in my wallet for them to use when they want to buy something. I show them their bank statements when they come in the mail and remind them that if they want something that costs a lot, they will have to forgo small purchases to save up or figure out a way to earn more money.
Kids learn to value and appreciate things when they have to earn the money for it themselves. When I was in college, I noticed kids who didn’t have to earn the money to pay their tuition often skipped class or showed up late and didn’t take their school work seriously. Because I paid for it myself, I was determined to get my money’s worth and a return on the investment I was making in getting an education.
Teach Them to Speak Up
When selling their goods and services, make them do the talking. One of the hardest things I had to overcome as a business owner was how to speak up, talk to people, name my price, and ask for the sale. Not only are these imperative skills for running a business, but they also build confidence for every aspect of life.
I often see moms doing the talking at cookie stands while girls stand behind the table looking shy and scared. Parents often post on social media about things their kids are selling, which doesn’t give the kids any selling experience. Instead of doing the selling for them, have them make phone calls, stand out in front of the booth to greet people, or record a video advertisement of themselves to post online.
Teach Them Generosity and Gratitude
Being an entrepreneur requires a lot of intentional thinking. Having an abundance mindset, which means you have confidence that money will always come to you and you have plenty to share, is a useful skill. Expressing gratitude for what you have and giving of your time and money to others can help develop a sense of abundance. If you don’t already have an organization your family donates to, help them find one that is meaningful to them. They can give a percentage of the money they earn or give of their time as a volunteer.
Learning entrepreneurship provides valuable lessons for all kids. The possibilities are endless, and it’s never too early to start. Of course, the best way for kids to learn is by example, so being an entrepreneur yourself will have the greatest impact.