“How do you encourage entreprenurial spirit in your children?” Some questions posed to me on Facebook have led to some blog posts lately (possibly because I sometimes “write a book” when I answer), and that’s one of the questions. One of the reasons parents want to encourage entrepreneurial spirit in kids is to help the child build financial skills.
A few of my friends often tell me that I encourage entrepreneurial spirit in my kids and that they are young business owners because of the example I set for them. These statements come constantly, but until someone I don’t know asked about it on Facebook and I articulated a response to that question, it didn’t really dawn on me that it’s such an unusual thing for parents to do. It may lead to an actual book, but for now:
How does one encourage entrepreneurial spirit in kids?
I have encouraged entrepreneurial spirit in my kids all along, by
- reading stories of kidpreneurs to them
- teaching them success principles
- having all kinds of business and success books in the house and talking about them
- talking about my kids’ ideas with them
- discussing my successes and failures (experience is not the best teacher; evaluated experience is)
- setting up websties and blogs they want to try
- setting up bank accounts for them
- teaching them how to use a spreadsheet to track their income
- teaching them how to use other Office programs
- teaching them to shovel snow and mow lawns and bake and make bracelets, and by
- buying supplies for them to do all of those things.
Biggest factor in encouraging entrepreneurial spirit
The most important thing, though, I think, is I’ve set an example for them all their lives through my own entrepreneurial journey. Over time, I get ideas, validate them, try things, and see what happens. I have not only told but shown them that it is not just “okay” to try something and fail at it, but it’s often the only way we can learn some things. It’s important (and sometimes requires a conscious effort) to make sure that there is little emotional risk in trying something. I’ve seen far too many people crippled by the way their parents taught them to refuse to try things, the way that they’ve taught them (whether intentionally or not) that there is huge shame in failing at anything. There is no shame in failing.
Not in my family.
I hope there won’t be any in yours, either.
There is only shame in cowardice. Passing cowardice on to one’s children is egregious. Let’s not do that. Instead, let’s help our children; let’s equip them with what they need.
Evaluated experience is the best teacher
Evaluated experience is the best teacher. Why shouldn’t children have the opportunity to get some experience while they are young, evaluate it, and be far ahead of their peers? My oldest, Joel Michael Harshman, published his first book at age 14. (Click image to find out more about it on Amazon.)
Joel Michael Harshman has another one in the series coming out any day now, and is writing his third book. He also has been helping his younger siblings with their writing, and perhaps they will publish books someday.
Joel Michael and his sister had their first website when she was in kindergarten, sending hugs in the form of loving notes and children’s artwork to lonely, elderly people. All of my children get paid to shovel snow, rake leaves, pull weeds, and mow lawns for people in the neighborhood. They tithe, save, and plan their expenditures. It’s not only great for their future, it’s great for them right now.
Encourage kids now
Parents can encourage entrepreneurial spirit in their children in many ways. One way (shameless plug alert) is to purchase the book my child wrote and show your children that he is a kid and he did this, and they can do great things to make money and a difference, too. Examples are powerful.
Note that I didn’t say he is “just a kid but…” I said that “he is a kid” There is no “just” and no “but.” Instead there is an “and.” He is a kid and he did this. Those word choices were intentional choices, and they have meaning.
Kids can do amazing things. There is no magic transformation that occurs on one’s eighteenth birthday, turning a child into a person who all of a sudden can have an entrepreneurial spirit. No, that can be nurtured all along. There’s no reason that children can’t create gigs and get going now. Of course there must be some limits to ensure their safety, and not everything is feasible, but much is. Encourage entrepreneurial spirit in kids you love. Watch them blossom. Feel the joy.