Growing up my maternal grandfather ran his own series of businesses. His two sons, and my father ran their own businesses, and I am cut from the same cloth.
Making your own way in the world is exciting, a little bit scary, and continuously stretches you.
Children, obviously, can catch this attitude- whether it is from hearing stories about customers at the dinner table, seeing a work ethic, or seeing ‘going in to the office’ as a foreign concept only reserved for TV.
But can entrepreneurship be fostered in children? I say so.
I interviewed an expert with 4 children running their own micro businesses- what makes them tick? What was the rearing they received? The four main avenues of crafting an entrepreneurial spirit are quite simple: Encouragement, Education, Investing and Reward.
Encourage your Child Entrepreneur
Encourage your child to find a way to make a profit from what they do and enjoy. Don’t expect success- but enjoy the lessons that trying will teach your children. It’s really typically only on your 4th-8th try that they become a “success”. So, expect failure, and be there to catch them.
Encourage the concept of profit – keep talking about margin ! A kid needs at least 50%+ margin to feel good about their effort . They can’t make it up in volume- Each sale is a win!
Educate your Child Entrepreneur
Teach your children about Customers, Production, Profit, Marketing, and Customer Service!
The process of learning a business, the path to market, and a means to reach customers creates kids that are better business people than most 30 year olds. Failure is a lesson of course-as it is for all of us.
Make sure that it is the kids that do the work – if they don’t do the work, its a waste of everyone’s time. The art of DOING is part of the education.
Invest in your Child Entrepreneur
Place reasonable faith in your children if they have a plan – and invest in that plan.
A plan should focus on how they plan to make money – not necessarily how they plan to take care of rabbits for sale.
As part of their education, and even if it is with your investment money, make them pay for the materials so they can understand the principals of margin. Money that leaves your hand is a risk, even if it is not yours.
As the caring parent that you are, don’t make them repay your initial investment, that is, unless they improve it 100 fold.
Develop a Reward Mentality for your Child Entrepreneur
Orienting your children to a business doesn’t make much sense unless they are seeking to raise money for a personal reward. A motivational reward like a pet, or a new iPhone can really set children on fire.
Small rewards for milestones (launching a web page, making a first sale, or the successful birth of a pet for sale) can be offered by parents. Remember- you are encouraging the process and education!