Growing up, I didn’t even know what an entrepreneur was. My parents both worked hard at their respective jobs, and held them for decades. But for my son, who’s seven now, the picture is drastically different. He’s got two parents who run their own companies – from home. His understanding of the workforce is unlike mine at his age. But he’s part of a generation that takes entrepreneurship as a given possibility, simply because he sees it every day.
I often wonder if he will become an entrepreneur too. Nothing would make me prouder.
A whopping 46% of kids who know an entrepreneur are more interested in becoming one themselves, according to the Kaufman Foundation’s Youth Entrepreneurship Survey 2010. That’s exciting, since there were more than 27 million small businesses in 2011. If every business inspired just one child to become an entrepreneur…well, you get my point.
Teach By Example
Whether your child shows interest in running his own business or not, it’s helpful to him to understand what it is you do with your own business. When I told my son that I make money on the computer, he looked around to find the printer that spit out the dollar bills! But I’ve found ways to explain that I help businesses get more customers. And Papa makes apps for phones.
It may not occur you to bring your child into your business or explain it to him, but doing so can provide valuable life lessons:
1. Keep the communication open about your business with your child. Explain in terms that he’ll understand what you do, as well as why it sometimes requires more of your time than he’d like. Explain why you work from home. Or why you don’t.
2. If your child is old enough, let him spend a day with you in the office. Then he can see firsthand what you do and how business works.
3. Encourage him to start his own entrepreneurial endeavors, even if it’s just selling lemonade. Teach him about supply cost and profit, and encourage him to work to earn enough money for that special toy.
4. Show him the role creativity plays in entrepreneurship. You never know: your next great business idea might come from the second generation in your home!
5. And don’t gloss over failure. While you don’t want to scare your kids (especially younger ones) if your business is struggling, there’s a lesson to be learned in diligence and not giving up on your dreams.
You never know what will resonate with kids. Even if yours doesn’t become the next Tony Hsieh, he still will have an appreciation for hard work and independence thanks to you.
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