The excitement. The imagination. The never-been-done-before-but-I-figured-it-out feeling. Seeing a need and solving a problem. Turning the “I wish there was a way to…” into a reality. If you’ve ever heard your kid share thoughts like these, you may just have a budding entrepreneur on your hands. So how can you support your kids’ passions and help them on their journey to becoming an entrepreneur? Read on for more.
Benefits of encouraging an entrepreneurial spirit in kids
Encouraging your kids not only to think big, but follow through on those dreams has major, life-long benefits, including:
- Gaining confidence
- Learning how to manage finances
- Building resilience (after trying and trying again to perfect an idea)
- Thinking independently
- Honing in on analytical and problem-solving skills
- Channeling creativity and finding motivation
- Learning how to plan ahead and manage timelines
- Understanding the implications of actions
- Learning how to identify and meet a need
- Take ownership (and pride) and be accountable (for successes and failures)
Ways to support your kids’ business ideas
- Instill a love for and the importance of life-long learning. The more they learn about everything, not just the area they are most interested in, the more well-rounded, thoroughly researched and successful their entrepreneurial ventures will be. Find opportunities for your kiddo to shadow experts in various fields, look for hands-on experiences through camps, workshops and even part-time jobs for older kids.
- Don’t let them focus on just one thing. While spending the bulk of their time and energy in learning more about whatever they are pursuing is important, so too is gaining experience in a variety of industries. Have them try out dog walking, babysitting, teaching a skill to others (such as playing an instrument), etc. The more people they interact with, the more they see the diverse and varying needs in our communities and how their idea(s) may fit in, or need adjusting.
- Allow and support negotiation. As a parent, it would definitely be easier if your kids just listened and did exactly as you say or recommend, but conversations really do help bring about better ideas or solutions to problems. Questions, when asked respectfully, should be encouraged. Let your kids know it’s OK to challenge ideas or ways of doing things, and be sure to set boundaries for what places and times it’s OK to push back a little.
- Encourage them to participate in competitions. Pitching their idea to experienced business owners, hearing ideas from fellow entrepreneurs and gaining valuable feedback from non-family members can help guide and encourage your young entrepreneur to press on and continue refining their idea. For example, in Wisconsin, high school students can participate in pitch contests to share their business model ideas with a panel of judges to get feedback (and cash prizes!).
- Help them figure out their “Why.” Identifying a problem that needs to be solved is a good start, but as time passes, your child’s motivation and interest will likely fade. But when you help them figure out their “why” …their motivation behind developing their own business or product, that’s when they will learn to push through and persevere.
- Keep your suggestions to a minimum. We know, we know, you’re a parent and it’s your job to guide your kids, BUT when it comes to their business or new product ideas, let them do the talking and keep your role as an active listener. Provide feedback and your thoughts when they ask for it. Plan on providing a lot of excited responses, such as, “What a cool idea! What made you think of that?” or “That’s a really great idea. Have you thought about _____.” to help them consider all angles of the issue or problem their idea solves.
- Let them make mistakes. This is a hard one, but if you swoop in and solve their problems and mistakes for them, they won’t learn (or it will take longer to learn). Let them fall down and get back up again (and be there to give them a helping hand to get back up).
- Be their biggest fan. Tell others about your kids’ ideas, and be sure to do a lot of that sharing in front of your kids. It’s important that they know how proud you are of them and hearing you tell others about their ideas will give them a much needed confidence boost. It also gives them direct feedback from others and may spur some new ideas.
- Help them set up a checking or savings account. Show them how to manage their finances by setting up a basic budget for their business and even a separate checking or savings account to deposit any funds they’ve raised or grants they’ve received.
Looking for more ways to teach your kids about money? Check out our fun tips for teaching kids about finances.