Nick Soucy of NickSoucy.com is our guestblogger today. He has some great insights on how to raise entrepreneurial kids.
A firefighter. A doctor. An astronaut. A ballerina. A ROCK STAR.
When we ask our kids what they want to be when they grow up, they usually give a canned response based on a few common career paths that parents and media have reinforced in them.
But why do they never say they want to be an entrepreneur? A small business owner? The CEO of a startup or a talent incubator?
If we learn to change the way we influence our kids and their passions, we can influence how they see the world or work, business, and being their own boss.
It’s time we change these assumptions about what our kids can do, and nurture what they really want to achieve in life.
It makes sense to introduce kids to the attributes and skills of being an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs are go-getters. Hustlers. Well-organized, passionate innovators who border on being obsessed with solving problems and taking control of their own destiny.
People who start their own businesses are enterprising. They take measured risks for greater rewards than those who simply work 9-to-5s for a boss. And they benefit from the joy and satisfaction of helping people solve a problem through their industrious product or service.
Why Don’t We Teach Entrepreneurship in School?
As Warren Buffet famously said, ‘Entrepreneurship can (and should) start early’.
Yet, most of us who went to public school within the last 30 years remember some of our teachers and guidance counselors as being cookie-cutter, drone-and-clone makers who encourage kids to all take the same boring career paths, or go to liberal arts college over learning a marketable trade or skill.
But the truly excellent teachers and counselors, know to nurture a child’s interests and passions, and encourage them to find a way to make a living doing what they love.
I have come up with 5 amazing tips on how to raise entrepreneurial kids.
#1 Take Advice from Successful Mentors and Industry Leaders
If you read any book by a successful entrepreneur, especially those who are now millionaires or billionaires, they will give almost identical advice:
- Start learning about entrepreneurship early, and experiment with several small businesses and freelance options (examples below).
- Do something you love, and you’ll never feel like you’re working.
- Invest your money as carefully as you invest in yourself with education and hard work.
- Work for yourself, whenever possible. Being your own boss means you control your own destiny, and have people working for youâ€” instead of the other way around.
- That means the final skill your child needs is an ability to lead. Leadership requires confidence, willingness to work as hard as your employees, and some degree of public speaking ability to inspire and persuade workers and investors.
#2 Let Your Kids Make Mistakes
So many parents today are coddling their kids. I have some tips to fix this:
- Don’t be a pampering helicopter parent that stifles your child’s natural curiosity.
- Don’t ride them too hard about their grades. Sure, make them study hard, but many entrepreneurs are too creative for traditional academic work.
- As long as your kids are developing real-world skills while in school, don’t be a Tiger Mom about the occasional ‘F’ in algebra. When do you ever use the quadratic formula, anyway?
- Let them get in a little trouble. Let them fail, so they learn from their mistakes. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
- Teach them some real-world skills, like how to open and maintain a checking account or invest in stocks or buy insurance or cook a healthy meal. Schools do a poor job teaching kids life skills. If you equip your kids with some important life lessons early on, they’ll translate that into business skills.
- Kids have a wonderful, magical sense of confidence and ability and curiosity that gets trampled on through overbearing parenting and cookie-cutter public schools.
- Let your children keep their dreams. Teach them that entrepreneurship is the way to chase their dreams.
#3 Teach Kids the Skills and Habits of Entrepreneurs
- Teach them to become comfortable speaking in front of crowds. Enroll them in a comedy or improv course, along with a speaking group like Toastmasters, and they’ll be ahead of the competition.
- Help them learn a process or skill and encourage them to explain it to others. If they can teach their skill, they’ll understand it better, and they can monetize their teaching skills later on with an online course, an e-book or a Ted Talk!
- Encourage kids to solve a problem with a product or service. Does the problem have to be huge and daunting like global warming or world hunger?
- Heck no! It can be small and local problem solving. It can be inventing a better mousetrap. It can be offering a service that exists in other cities, but not in your neighborhood.
- Let them know an entrepreneur can be a freelancer, too. This will appeal to creative types who will learn the fundamentals of accounting and business out of necessity, as a means to an end of selling their art, writing, photography, jewelry or crafts.
- Teach them about money, but make sure they know business is about passion and loving the work more than it is about profit.
- Teach them to use skills they already have. Help them discover what they are good at, and how to translate that into a fun way to make money through a side hustle.
- Teach them about rewards for hard work. Teach them to negotiate fees for chores they do. Don’t give your kids an automatic allowance. This teaches them that money comes from hard work and the ability to barter.
- Give them hobbies that teach skills while they have fun.
- Limit TV, smart phone and computer screen time. They should be reading, learning, playing outside, and being creative.
- Teach them about risk and reward. Entrepreneurs take risks, since many business ventures can fail early on. They have to learn to be adaptable and roll with the punches, and to always have a backup plan. Learning from failure is the best way to become successful.
- Encourage kids to pursue lifelong learning. On graduation day, it may seem like it’s ‘no more teachers no more books’ but an entrepreneur knows it’s now time to begin self-education.
- Read with your kids about their favorite subjects. Reading teaches patience, marketing, critical thinking, and communication. All are vital skills for the entrepreneur.
- Take online business classes or join a business-focused club. Many local and online resources can be super educational and low cost or even FREE.
- Find a mentor in your chosen area of interest. If you keep learning, you’ll keep earning.
- Take them to a local business incubator for a tour. Skip going to the movies one weekend and find a local trade school or business incubator that will give your kid a look into the work of invention, programming, prototyping and innovation.
#4 Try These Fun Ideas with Your Kids
- Photography. Older kids and teens make great photographers. There are tons of opportunities to take photos for friends and neighbors, for wedding registries and websites. They are naturally curious, and because of social media, they are more comfortable in front of the camera and sharing their lives with others.
- Christmas tree removal (older teens). Not all towns offer tree removal service, so your teen might rent a truck and offer to haul them to the dump for a fee.
- On a similar holiday theme, your neighbors might want help hanging outdoor decorations for Halloween or Christmas.
- Recycling and Upcycling. Your kids can find free items that neighbors no longer need that other friends or neighbors may want. Items may require some painting, refurbishing or cleaning, but turning free ‘junk’ into sellable used items is a great business.
- Create an online course about a special skill, whether it’s a tutorial about computer coding or just kicking butt on a popular video game. There are so many platforms these days, from Youtube to Udemy to Skillshare, and they all offer a platform for your kids and teens to teach a skill they have and monetize their course.
- If their course does well, you can link it to a related blog that you help them start. The blog can also sell kid-friendly items through affiliate links.
- Gift-wrapping. You can help your kids approach a store and ask if theyâ€™d like to set up a gift-wrapping station. This is popular at bookstores and gift shops, and can turn a nice profit.
- Yard work like raking leaves, trimming hedges, shoveling snow and lawn-mowing are old favorites that teach hard work and offer the added benefits of exercise and being outdoors instead of always in front of a screen or device.
- Computer/phone tech help for older neighbors. Kids tend to innately understand new tech and can be a great help to those among us who aren’t so savvy.
- Pet sitting and/or dog walking. Some kids may not be experienced enough to babysit, but they can often watch, feed and walk dogs and cats without much worry.
- Washing cars. People love a clean car and will pay decent money for a job well done. And kids are cute, so they earn better tips.
- Making greeting cards, jewelry, t-shirts or other crafts they can sell on Ebay or Etsy.
- Do some freelance work on platforms like Upwork. Clients are always in need of things like graphic design, web design and other things your child or teen might already be good at. This can teach them about respecting deadlines, crafting an impressive job proposal, and help them build their freelance portfolio with quality jobs.
- The old standby: Selling lemonade (or Kool-Aid. Or coffee, hot chocolate or anything else).
- Social media marketing. A lot of small businesses in your community could use the help of a young person when it comes to Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other forms of social media marketing and creating viral content.
- Start a Youtube/social media page about your passion and get it monetized through Patreon, a paid subscriber service that’s easy to set up. Think fun and creative, like Doug the Pug, a dog owner who dresses up his dog in human clothes and has millions of Instagram followers, and marketing deals. (Cha-Ching! $$$)
#5 To get more advanced, teach them about inventions, prototypes and patents.
- Browse some websites about how a patent works.
- Find a local 3-D printer (you can find them at some libraries, universities and incubators) to help them design a fun product prototype.
- Invent a product and start a Kickstarter campaign to get it manufactured. If your kid is more ambitious, they might have a truly great invention that could get the attention of investors. (Heck, even Shark Tank has had some child investors on TV!)
A Final Word on Cultivating ‘Kid-trepreneurs’
As parents, we have to lead by example. Our kids are sponges, and they live by ‘monkey see-monkey do’ This is a very important step on how to raise entreprenerial kids.
- So if we start our own side hustles, businesses and startups, they are more likely to emulate our entrepreneurial skills and follow in our footsteps.
- Don’t forget to teach them about investing for the future.
- Watch fun business shows together like Shark Tank.
- Buy them a subscription to a business magazine and help them understand the articles
- Being your own boss means finding your own health insurance and retirement benefits.
- Make saving and investing money a game for them. Require them to save or invest half of their birthday and holiday money in a special account. Don’t give them access to it until they move out, and then they’ll have seed money for living expenses and to continue growing their business!