I never planned to become an entrepreneur. In fact, I kind of slid into it. But now that I think about it, my dad was an entrepreneur for as long as I remember, and so was my grandmother. Some people might come to the conclusion that entrepreneurship gets passed on through the genes. I don’t think so. I believe it has more to do with circumstances — and maybe our upbringing.
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As parents we sometimes think we need to manage our kids’ future. It’s understandable. We want only the best for them, and don’t want them to struggle in their adult life. But not my parents, they always trusted me with the education and career decisions I made. I realize now that this was probably a key factor in my decision to launch my own business: I believed in myself and had the confidence to take the risk.
So how can we encourage our kids to become entrepreneurs? Or maybe not encourage them, because we want them to make their own decisions, but at least give them the right ground?
Boost their self-motivation
When doing homework with my 10-year-old I sometimes feel that he thinks he is studying for me or his teacher. Children do not understand yet that they study for themselves; you have to keep repeating it to them. This will boost their self-motivation.
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Encourage them to find their own solutions
Sometimes it’s easiest to give our kids ready-made solutions to their “problems.” I’m guilty myself. But unfortunately we are not doing them a favor. If we want them to grow up to be self-thinkers, they need to learn in the early years to find their own answers. And, yes, you might refer them to YouTube or Google, because that’s what we do when we try to find answers, right?
Push them to think outside the box
Unfortunately, creativity is not always welcome at school. Children need to study and then regurgitate. So every now and then just let them know that there’s also other approaches than the one the teacher teaches them, and that being able to “think outside the box” is a good skill to have.
Teach them how to manage their own money
As small business owners we manage our own money. A lot of businesses fail because of bad financial management. If you teach your kids to manage their own money from as early as the age of 10, you will not only help them to understand the value of material things but hopefully also make them into better accountants. As a kid I had a little book in which I wrote down all my “Income” (pocket money) and “Expenses” (candy, toys, and later clothes) and my son is now doing the same thing.
Tell them not to take things for granted
In our materialistic society it’s easy for our kids to get a little spoiled and take things for granted. Two thirds of my son’s classmates have an iPhone. They think it’s their right. As a small business owner you can only buy the fancy new iPad if you made enough money that month. Explain that to your children. I know I do!
Show them that failure is part of success and encourage them not to give up
Teenagers nowadays give up too fast if things don’t come easy. And they think failure is a permanent state. It is your role as a parent to explain that failure is part of any success path. Encourage them to get up again if they fall!
Make them independent
I know we constantly worry about our children. So we sometimes overprotect them, give them a ride when they could take the bike instead, pack their suitcase for camp when they would be old enough to do it themselves. Again, we’re not doing them a favor. If we want them to become independent and responsible human beings, we need to let go a bit.
I know a lot of fellow entrepreneurs and I’m sure if I did a survey about their upbringing a lot of these statements above would get confirmed. So why not try them out? It can’t hurt.
Sarah Santacroce helps small business owners and solopreneurs find their place in today’s online world. Click here to subscribe to her mailing list & get her '21 Ways to Increase Your Website Traffic' Ebook