Even if you don’t want — or expect — your child to be in business for themselves, fostering an entrepreneurial spirit can be beneficial in many ways. Strong leadership skills and confidence can go a long way, no matter what career path your child ends up pursuing.
1. Teach Kids the Importance of Passion and Purpose
Ask your child what their wildest dreams are, and what they would do for the rest of their lives, even if it didn’t make much money. The point is to see what they are passionate about. While not every passion of theirs will be profitable, it is important for them to pursue something they love so that they don’t experience burn out later in life.
Teach them to chase fulfillment rather than a filled wallet. For example, if they are really interested in being an EMT and helping people, but choose to pursue being a lawyer because it means more money, then they will feel unsatisfied with their lives no matter how much money they make.
2. Goal Setting Is a Must
Setting goals is more than just picking random resolutions in the beginning of the year. The act of goal setting is essential for developing discipline and giving a child the first taste of success.
What kind of goals can your children have? Start with goals that center around what your children love and find interesting. For example, if your child loves to read or is on the soccer team, set slightly challenging goals that they will enjoy working at, such as reading two books in a week or scoring goals in consecutive games.
As your children become more interested in goal setting, set goals for their weaker areas, such as getting an A or B on the next math test or keeping their room clean for a week. Your child will understand that continually setting goals helps shape them into the person they wish to be — and it can be fun. Goal setting can dramatically improve every area of an individual’s life, so don’t underestimate the importance of it.
3. Encourage Creative Thinking and Problem-Solving
When your child comes to you with a complaint or problem, encourage them to think outside the box on how to solve it. Maybe their problems include keeping their lunch warm or dealing with another kid who teases them at school. Brainstorm possible solutions to each problem, encouraging both logical and off-the-wall solutions.
Some of the most successful people today are individuals that solved a problem with a unique or out-of-the-box idea.
4. It’s Never Too Early to Teach Networking
Effective communication skills are essential for building up relationships. Kids naturally think and talk about themselves all of the time. Many adults have this same problem, too. The issue with this is that they miss opportunities to connect and learn from others. Encourage your children to ask others thought-provoking and non-invasive questions that others will love to answer. Have your children try these simple questions out on adult family members and family friends:
What is your favorite thing about your job?
What would you tell your x-year-old self (using your child’s age)?
What do you wish you learned in school if you could learn anything?
These questions are meant to teach your children how to engage others in a thoughtful discussion, while practicing deeper listening skills. They might even learn something along the way. Sadly, most teens and young adults are well-versed in text messaging and social media, but cannot effectively network in person.
5. Get Hands-On Experience
While teaching goal setting and effective communication are essential, it is also important to jump into a small business to get hands-on experience. The business does not have to be the next greatest thing or one that is time-consuming. Try starting a weekend lawn service, pet walking service, or a mobile car washing business. Be sure to understand the child labor laws and income limits for your area before starting.
The goal is to have your child to think about advertising, gaining clients, keeping clients, and working hard. While making a few bucks on the side will be a great incentive for your child, the real lessons come from doing. Even a failed business will teach your child or teen valuable lessons.
Growing an entrepreneurial spirit in your child is a slow and steady process. Schools are so great at teaching children how to read and do complicated math equations, but when it comes to fostering an entrepreneurial spirit, many schools do not even touch on those valuable lessons. (See also: 7 Places Teens (And Adults) Can Learn About Money)
How have you helped encourage an entrepreneurial and business-savvy spirit in your child or teen?