11 Ways to Encourage Your Kids’ Entrepreneurial Mindset: FOR PARENTS

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When you were a kid, did you dream of growing up to be your own boss? Did you wish you could make lots of money, and run the whole show?

Sounded great then, but now you know that’s not the full story.

Starting your own business takes the ability to see things before they exist, and then go create it.  Almost like an artist.  Creating something from nothing is just incredible!

 Hand drawing the word idea with lightbulb sketch

An entrepreneur isn’t  someone who starts a business.  It’s someone who makes things happen. –Tim Ferriss

 

Entrepreneurship is not so much a job or work, it’s more of a lifestyle.  Entrepreneurs see opportunities everywhere.  This is why the aptitude and the importance of life skills in relation to academic focus can’t be stressed enough.  Entrepreneurs have to like working with all kinds of people, talk to strangers, navigate new situations, and find solutions to problems.

Anyone can be an entrepreneur, even your kids!

You don’t even have to own your own business to teach some entrepreneurial skills to your children.  If your child shows interest in business or making money, and promise in these areas, there are ways to encourage entrepreneurship at your home.  Parental involvement is vital in kids’ abilities to put their entrepreneurial mindset to work, since they may have the ability, but they may need some guidance and assistance to go the distance with their business ideas.

Here are some specific things parents can do to support their kids.  Maybe some of the ideas fit your home:

  1. Encourage their passions – invest in their passions. Encourage them to learn more about their passions. Look for local events about particular passions, make friends with others with similar interests, visit local spots that stimulate their creative thinking.  How many times have your heard about prodigy kids starting $1MM businesses at the age of 8?  Some kids have intense focus.
  2. Don’t tell them something’s too expensive. Say yes, and ask them how they plan to earn the money for it.  Encourage them to look for opportunities.  When they want to buy things, let them figure out ways to earn the money. Never say no you can’t have it (well, not always, but you know what we mean here). Show your child how to break a job down into small steps so it’s not overwhelming and age-appropriate. 
  3. Help them find ways to turn hobbies/interests into businesses. Kids doing lemonade stands and yard work for money may or may not be entrepreneurs, but making money will help them feel empowered and give them some freedoms.  Small warning here about legal and other issues with minority age, such as vendor licenses from the city for stands or booths.  We heard that Zappos founder Tony Hsieh had a business farming worms at 9 years old.  There are so many different ideas!
  4. Empower your children with an open mind – help them come up with ideas that stem from their passions. If they don’t have specific business ideas, look at their hobbies, interests.  If they love pets, maybe they’re ready for a dog-walking or pet-sitting business.  Maybe they want to sell jewelry or their craftwork on Etsy or re-work old furniture or household items they find at garage sales to flip at flea market sales.   If they are interested in fashion, they could make clothing, but they could also put on fashion shows or sell items online.  If they like music, they could do more than perform by putting on shows, writing songs for other people, or booking music talent for events.
  5. No adult gets free money weekly without work. Try not to give your kids an allowance.  There are jobs that are required as part of the family and everyone contributes.  Have extra jobs around the house always available, maybe on a list on the fridge with dollar amounts assigned.  Offer these as other paid job experiences. Some families use allowance only to teach money skills but miss the opportunity to associate with work, which works well also.
  6. Encourage them to do non-paid job experiences (jobs at home and as a student in school). This teaches them to observe people and serve others.
  7. Show them how to fundraise for school, church or groups with a small business effort.
  8. Encourage money management. Financial education is crucial to future success. If you are giving your child $10, for example, give them one five, 4-ones and $1 in coins so they can divide up the money easily into their 3 money jars – Spend, Save, Give. IMG_1502Have them keep track of the balances and deposits/credits into the jars.  When they are ready, open a bank account [see Post] with them in both of your names, and have them record the changes.
  9. As you go about your day, ask them what they think of signage and certain advertising. Life education and real world examples solidify and expand academic knowledge.
  10. Use games to encourage entrepreneurial mindset – like Monopoly and Life, or any game with money Participate in the school’s Junior Achievement program or any after-school business or leadership clubs.   Watch shows like Shark Tank and TED Talks for Kids – there are videos online.
  11. Have your kids go through all their toys and other belongings each season and have them sell the stuff on eBay or Craigslist with you (via your account). This will teach them to guess the adequate price, follow a sales process, and how delivery and invoicing with customers works.

An entrepreneurial mindset can help your kids prepare for the real world, whether or not they want to own their own businesses soon or someday.  The skills they will pick up along the way will help them succeed in any work environment.  These life skills for speaking, dealing with people, problem solving, creativity, money management, and tenacity will serve them anywhere they go.

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RESOURCES:

Some books, games, and products for kids on Youth Entrepreneurship: