How to Raise Children That Become Entrepreneurs
By Lauren Hidden
Ever since my kids can remember, I’ve worked from home. Sometimes I have to remind
them that I’m not sitting home playing with their toys or eating bon-bons when they’re
at the babysitter or at school, but for the most part they “get it”. As they get
older and are able to comprehend dinner table conversations, they are developing
a business vocabulary: tax write-off, clients, firing clients, blogs, podcasts,
etc. Now I’m starting to get hammered with questions like, “Why do you have clients
and Daddy has co-workers? Why does Daddy work in an office and you work at home?”
At 4 and 6 years old, my sons are already noticing the differences between employees
and entrepreneurs. I can’t help but wonder if they too will become entrepreneurs
several years from now. Certainly they see some of the benefits–more flexible schedules
(Mommy can get them on and off the bus in the morning and afternoon), no commuting
costs (mommy doesn’t complain about the price of gas), mommy can watch school plays,
help with kidwriting at kindergarten, chauffer them to doctor appointments and speech
therapy sessions, and stay home with them if they’re sick without it being a major
I hope that as they grow up, they’ll be able to see the hard work and rewards that
come with being an entrepreneur. I’d like them to be able to spend more time doing
activities they enjoy, spend time with their family and friends and spend their
working hours doing something they love. So how do we, as entrepreneurs, encourage
our children to take the path of entrepreneurial freedom?
Entrepreneurial Lesson Number One: Have Your Kids Help with Your Business:
Even young kids can help you with very simple business tasks. A 3 or 4 year old
can put some outgoing letters in the mailbox and raise the flag. A 5 or 6 year old
can help you weigh a package on a home scale and tell you the reading (be sure to
double-check for accuracy). Young kids can help pick up the house before a client
stops by your home, accompany you on trips to the office supply store and post office.
Be sure to tell them what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
Older children can help with filing and fulfilling orders, responsible teenagers
can be taught to screen and respond to customer email or answer your business phone.
If they have a knack for numbers, they could even help you with balancing your books.
Entrepreneurial Lesson Number Two: Encourage Children to Take Risks: I’m
not talking about allowing your children to jump off a 20 foot wall just to see
what happens. But “no” should not be the most common word in your vocabulary. If
your child wants to try something new, let them try it, even if you think it will
fail. It doesn’t matter if your child is the shortest one in the class and wants
to try out for the basketball team, or wants to make a peanut butter and bologna
sandwich that will definitely taste awful. Let them try and learn from their own
Haven’t you had some failed experiments in your business? I have. These periodic
failures may knock you down, but don’t you get back up and try again? Teach your
kids to do the same, and they will be on their way to developing an entrepreneurial
Entrepreneurial Lesson Number Three: Give Your Kids a Financial Education:
As soon as your kids are old enough, start teaching them about money. Let them know
that as employees, they can pretty much expect the same paycheck week after week
with modest increases until they retire. But as an entrepreneur, they are in control
of their own financial future. How hard and smart they work will directly affect
their immediate income and their long-term wealth.
Teach your kids the amazing power of residual income. Whether it’s a photo they
take for a stock photography website, or a book they write and sell 10,000 copies
of, they can learn that they don’t have to trade an hour of their time for an hour’s
worth of pay. They can do something once, and reap the rewards for years to come.
Teach your kids that there is profit and loss in business. Not every dollar you
make can be spent. Some needs to be invested back into your business, some goes
to taxes, and some needs to go to your employees’ salaries (if applicable). Show
them your quarterly statements. Show them the difference between your gross and
net income. All these money lessons will serve them well over the years, even if
they choose not to be entrepreneurs.
Despite your best efforts, your kids still might decide to become corporate drones.
You’ll love them anyway. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll have an extra sense
of satisfaction if they take control of their own destiny and become entrepreneurs
or business owners just like mom or pop. So while they’re young, answer their questions,
teach them the vocabulary, get them involved, and encourage them to take appropriate
risks and not be afraid of failure. You’ll both be glad you did.
Lauren Hidden is an author, blogger, and owner of The Hidden Helper, an editorial
services firm. To read her blog, visit www.hiddenhelper.com.