You’ve seen them on Dragon’s Den, those young Canadian entrepreneurs who look like they were born into the role. One thing virtually all of them share, is supportive parents who nurtured and encouraged them. You can be the kind of parent who helps your child pursue life as an entrepreneur too. The skills you equip them with today will benefit your child no matter what career path he or she chooses, but they’ll be especially important if they decide to start their own business.
Entrepreneurs don’t fit into a mold, which makes starting a business feasible for most children, including those with special needs. For example, many kids with ADHD are especially successful with their own business because they can choose one that allows them the freedom they need. If physical challenges make it difficult for them to get around, perhaps an online business would work for them. While you’re teaching children these basic business skills, remember to tailor them to their abilities.
8 Skills to Teach Your Budding Entrepreneur
1. The Value of Money
Many children finish school with very little financial literacy. Teaching them about money yourself can give them an advantage in business and in life.
How can you teach children the value of money? Letting them earn their allowance and save for items they want is a fabulous start. Take it a step further by encouraging truly entrepreneurial ventures. For example, instead of just selling some of their unwanted items at a yard sale, help them set up a simple Popsicle stand at the yard sale. Have them make a list of what they’ll need and lend them the money for supplies. It unfolds into a complete entrepreneurial experience with profit, expenses (it’s important that they pay you back), customer service, bank deposits, and so on.
2. Learning From Failure
Pass or fail learning in school can lead children to believe that failure doesn’t result in anything good. In reality, failure can teach us as much as success does.
How can children learn from failure? Focus on changing the results. Guide them through the reasons for the failure and what they could have done differently.
3. Problem Solving
One of the most natural instincts of parents is to try to fix our child’s little world. However, effective problem solving is a skill that will make their life a whole lot better. That’s certainly the case for entrepreneurs who are faced with problems every day. They must learn to efficiently resolve issues as they arise and, at the same time, ensure those problems don’t come up again. You can nurture this skill in your kids by talking them through the problem and asking questions that help them fix it, or at least prevent it from happening in the future. For example, my young son was forever forgetting something at school. We came up with an easy mental checklist that he could pause and run through before leaving school. If the child is too young for that, you could help them write a list to keep in their coat pocket.
Successful entrepreneurs are realistic, yet optimistic. They believe in solutions, hope and being proactive. They know they can be successful even when others say they won’t be. The best way to raise an optimistic child is to be optimistic yourself! Negativity is nothing more than a habit. You’ll both be happier and more successful if you change it.
Most parents today try to nurture their child’s self-confidence, but many don’t do it the right way. It isn’t just a matter of encouraging or complimenting them. You must prepare them for challenges and failure because that’s what is waiting for them in adult life. They can gain more confidence from getting up when they fall down (literally or figuratively), than they would if they never fell in the first place or if they let someone else pick them up. They have to make their own mistakes and take responsibility for their own actions.
Relating to others is an invaluable leadership skill and a powerful method of keeping customers happy. You can encourage empathy by asking questions about how someone else may feel. You can also explain your own feelings of empathy and how they motivate the action you take. Don’t forget to express empathy about how your child is feeling too, “I know you don’t want to clean your room, I don’t like to clean either but…”
When most people think of creative entrepreneurs, they think of inventors or those who come up with a unique service. The truth is, almost every aspect of entrepreneurship requires creativity. Everything from beating the competition to problem solving benefits from a creative mind. Encourage your child to think outside the box, write stories, or otherwise use their imagination without interference. It doesn’t matter if it’s total nonsense, it’s still training their brain.
8. Social Skills
Networking is a big part of many businesses. Encourage your child to converse with others, be they their own friends, restaurant servers, or store staff. Sometimes you have to direct adults to notice children but they’re usually happy to do so once they realize they should. For example, I once took my son to spend his birthday money on a video game. He would ask questions, but the clerk always looked at me when he answered or if he had questions of his own. Finally, I pointed to my son and said with a smile, “Talk to the guy with the money.” They both had a better experience after that.
If you need to come up with ways to encourage your child’s inner entrepreneur, think like an entrepreneur yourself. If you make a list of basic traits, you can find ways to work lessons and thought processes into their lives through experiences and play. That’s the best way to help any kid start their own business, now or in the future.
You’ll also find books that will be helpful. The creators of Warren Buffett’s Secret Millionaires Club have a fantastic book for young entrepreneurs called How to Start Your Very Own Business.
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