Most parents would agree: they want their children to be independent and successful. For many parents, this means encouraging their child to attend college, which will lead to a stable job and a fulfilling career. The reality, however, is that model for success no longer guarantees results.
Today’s college students are facing economic uncertainty, the globalization of workforces, decreased earning potential, and a rapidly changing employment market. Skyrocketing student debt, lackluster job markets, and increased competition for available jobs have created a future filled with challenges for the rising generation.
Entrepreneurs, however, have already found a way to succeed in spite of a challenging job market. Leaving the corporate world to forge a new path is exciting and filled with opportunities. How can entrepreneurs pass these skills on to their children, giving them an edge in the future?
1. Teach financial literacy.
Schools may provide minimal instruction in this area, but for maximum results, make sure you take every opportunity to cover this topic with your kids. Starting from an early age will give your child a solid understanding of finance and money matters.
Teach your children how to save and invest. Demonstrate how money can be used to make more money and that every coin counts. For example, start a savings jar. Decide what to use the money for when the jar gets full. Not only will it help get your kids excited about saving, it will teach them the importance of loose change.
Additionally, allow your children to see you making decisions about how money should be spent. Engage your kids in conversations about what to save for and talk about how (and in what) you are investing. These conversations can help your child develop a good sense for money and let them see the importance of decision-making when it comes to handling money.
2. Help them identify opportunities.
The world is full of business opportunities. Help your children recognize and act on them using the power of entrepreneurship. The next time your child asks for a new gadget or toy, challenge them to find ways to make the money they need. Tell your child to find things that need to be done around your house and then negotiate how much they should be paid for completing that chore.
Encourage your child to start small, entrepreneurial projects like having a lemonade stand or selling their old toys on Craigslist. They’ll learn about setting prices, negotiating, marketing, and dealing with scammers – all important entrepreneurial skills that will help them in the business world. Take them thrift store shopping for items that they can repurpose or resell. These types of activities can teach your child that making money requires effort, but can be fun.
3. Teach planning and goal setting.
Entrepreneurs are experts at setting goals and executing them. Teach those goal planning skills to your children using the S.M.A.R.T. approach. Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Help your children develop their top five goals and write them down. According to research, people are 80 percent more likely to achieve their goals if they are in writing. Next, help them write down five action steps to achieve each goal.
4. Encourage team work.
Learning to work together to reach common goals is a skill that entrepreneurs use often. The most successful entrepreneurs rely on outsourcing and partnerships with others. Teaching your children to work with others, handle disappointments, and move past losses are vital skills for entrepreneurship.
5. Appreciate personal initiative and hard work.
Insist that your children submit their best work for everything, whether it be homework, household chores, or extracurricular activities. Completing tasks and giving each job their best effort teaches children to take pride in their accomplishments and helps them to become responsible and dependable. Reward your children for taking initiative to solve problems, taking on extra chores, or trying new things.
6. Identify lessons in failing.
Not every idea succeeds, and not every project works. As an entrepreneur, you understand that there is value in failing. Help your child see the lessons that can be realized when a plan goes awry. Discuss with your child the reasons it didn’t work, then brainstorm ways to ensure it doesn’t happen again in the future. Have them look for alternative methods of solving problems and find new ways to accomplish their goals.
7. Lead by example.
One of the most effective ways of teaching your children to be an entrepreneur is by showing them what a successful entrepreneur looks like. When you tell your child to set goals and make plans, let them see you setting goals for your business and planning how to accomplish them. Allow them to see your failures and the lessons you’ve learned from them. Include your children in discussions about your business and the reasons why you became an entrepreneur. Both of you will benefit from the conversations!
Your children already have a front row seat to the life of an entrepreneur – help them to see the benefits of taking the road less travelled. No matter what type of business you have, your children can learn from you about the importance of hard work and responsibility. Providing them with a solid foundation will help them no matter what field they enter in the future.