Teaching Kids About the Family Business

What parent wouldn’t love to hear their child say, “I want to be just like you when I grow up.” Imagine them following in your entrepreneurial footsteps—maybe even taking over the family business one day. It starts with getting kids thinking like independent workers. And the earlier you start, the more likely they’ll catch the entrepreneurial bug. Use these helpful hints to start raising the next generation of family business owners.

Tips for Teaching Kids About the Family Business

Help Kids Make Lemonade from Lemons

Show your child how to find opportunity in a challenge they’re experiencing. For example, having to untangle the cord whenever they are charging up their electronic devices. Encourage them to think of ways to solve the issue rather than focusing on the problem. Nurturing this habit helps them turn common problems into profitable ideas. That’s the start of a successful business.

Don’t Allow Allowances

Cameron Herold in his TED Talk says that allowances teach kids the wrong habits. They train kids to passively think about a job rather than to actively seek out opportunities that may provide greater rewards. An entrepreneur doesn’t expect a regular paycheck, he says. Instead, Herold encourages his kids to come to him with jobs that need to be done around the house. Then they negotiate with each other over what they’ll get paid. They develop a sense that they can control their own destiny.

Open the Creative Tap

Herold offers another idea to get kids’ creative juices flowing. Rather than reading children a bedtime story every evening, pick two nights out of the week and have them tell their own tale. He starts by giving them four objects—a red shirt, a blue tie, a kangaroo, and a laptop. Then he has them create a story using these objects. It’s an exercise in creative problem solving that requires them to think outside the box.

Share Your Own Experiences

Talk with your kids about the challenges and successes you face in your own business. And don’t leave out the bad stuff. Share a specific event from the day. What happened? What options did you consider to address the issue? How did you pick the best one? What happened? Your example helps paint a more realistic picture of what entrepreneurs do and how they think. They might even have an idea that can help.

Teach Them the “F” Word

When it comes to entrepreneurs, “failure” is not a dirty word. So don’t treat it like one. Help kids reframe the situation by focusing on the lessons learned. Edison once said, “I haven’t failed. I just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Don’t punish the child who fails. Instead, talk with him or her about the factors that lead to the failure. Then brainstorm how to do it differently next time. That tolerance for error is a requisite skill that drives the innovation business owners need to be successful.

Whether your child decides to follow you into the family business or start one of their own, the building blocks for success are laid early. Help them develop the skills they’ll need with these tips for entrepreneurial parents.

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