It’s easy to see entrepreneurship as something that is only for adults. Children don’t tend to open up their own businesses or restaurants on their own. However, entrepreneurial skills don’t just show up overnight. For people to open a business in their twenties, they need to have already learned the ropes at a much younger age. That’s where you come in.
In this article, we take a look at how you can teach your kids entrepreneurial and business skills that will be useful no matter what career they pursue as adults.
Teach Your Kids About Personal Finance
A shocking number of people enter the adult world without knowing anything at all about personal finance. Many of them are college graduates — people who are transitioning into a phase of life where they will need to start paying back tens of thousands of dollars in loans, and they don’t even know how to set a budget.
Many people learn the ropes, some don’t. But for entrepreneurs, understanding personal finance is non-negotiable. Good ideas can easily go belly up if they are financially mismanaged.
You don’t have to steer them towards a degree in finance to get this job done. An easy way to do it is to involve them (to the extent that it is appropriate to do so) in your family’s financial planning. Teach them about making a budget. Make sure they understand the impact that incidental costs — an unexpected repair — can have on personal finances.
Remember that most people starting their own business have to do pretty much everything alone. This means that, should your child grow into an adult that starts their own business, they may be completely responsible for its financial management for the foreseeable future.
Going into the process with some understanding of how finances work can be a big advantage.
Business is collaborative. In the beginning, new business owners aren’t always able to afford a staff but regardless, cooperation with other people is always a necessary component of finding entrepreneurial success.
Fortunately, it’s not very hard to find opportunities to instill good teamwork practices in children. Your school system will most likely provide some opportunities in the form of group projects and clubs. Sports are also a great way for kids to develop collaborative skills.
Unfortunately, many children can get through ten years of school sports without ever really understanding their symbolic value. Imagine that. A child playing basketball and neglecting to think about symbolism.
Frame your child’s athletics experiences as a tool for developing life skills. It’s not just about playing a game. It’s about learning goal setting, hard work, perservenerence, and collaboration. If your kid can develop strong teamwork skills on the court it will be an enormous boon, regardless of if they decide to pursue owning their own business in the future or not.
Remember, collaboration is an important component of any job. While interacting with other humans may come naturally, learning how to do so productively within a group dynamic doesn’t always flow as well. Emphasizing those skills at a young age is important.
Another skill that is vital regardless of what profession your child ultimately finds themselves in. Understanding what it takes to identify something you want and understand the steps required to get it, is an important life skill that will help your child both in school and in whatever career path they pursue.
Everyone does goal setting in some form or another. Often the process is informal. You identify what you want, then you try to get it, and hope that things will work out.
To teach goal setting as a skill, you will want to make the experience a little more active for your child. Consider having them write down their goals. It could be financial — make X amount of money to purchase object Y, or the goal could be achievement based. Get straight As, score in every basketball game this season, etc.
Once they have selected a goal, encourage them to write out the steps they think will be necessary to achieve it. Then, follow up to make sure they are taking those steps.
If they achieve their goal, great. Even if they don’t, however, there are lessons to be learned. Goal setting misfires encourage your child to rethink the steps they took. Or to be honest with themselves about how strictly they followed those steps.
It also teaches a valuable lesson: you can’t always get what you want, but you can learn from failures and try again.
Teach Them About Entrepreneurship in Your Community
If you own a business, you already have a great way to immerse your child in the world of entrepreneurism. Involve them in the ins and outs of your business, take them to the physical location, and show them around. Tell them what people do, what you do, and how long it took you to get to where you are.
But what if you don’t own a business? There are still opportunities to expose your child to the concept of business ownership. Start by frequenting locally owned businesses. If you know the owner, consider asking them to talk to your child about small business ownership.
Otherwise, simply ingraining the idea that it is possible to make a living owning a business can be enough.
There are also opportunities in the form of things like career day at school, and other camps and conferences designed to expose children to as many career paths as possible. Find out if there are any such opportunities in your community. Not only will your child learn more about entrepreneurism, but they will also begin thinking more concretely about working life.
Confidence is important for all children. It’s also a necessary part of starting your own business. The financial reality of setting out on your own can be very frightening. Some of that fear is justified — you are quite literally taking your employment and finances into your own hands — but if the fear and anxiety become too pronounced it can be very prohibitive.
In fact, entrepreneurs are frequent sufferers of a psychological condition known as “Imposter Syndrome”— basically the idea that they aren’t qualified to run their own business, but that everyone around them knows exactly what they are doing.
Naturally, this is a debilitating thought to have when setting out on your own.
There are many ways to build confidence in a child. Sports and clubs are one way. Getting kids to step out of their comfort zones and find out that things work out ok is an important experience, both in terms of informing the way they see themselves, and in influencing how they make decisions even as adults.
You can also help simply by reinforcing when your child does something good. Make sure they understand they are talented. That confidence will follow them for the rest of their lives, both professionally and personally.
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