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Teach Your Kids to be Entrepreneurs

One thing that’s generally known about starting your own business is that it’s very hard work. You may have heard that the failure rate is high and the success rate low, yet annually there are millions of us taking the entrepreneurial plunge. According to official statistics from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor there are currently 388 million entrepreneurs in business today, although more than 50% are expected to fail within their first three years. So what contributes to success?

For me, I believe strongly it’s down to how you’re raised; the morals you’re plied with, the support you receive and the ethics you learn that stay with you for life. My parents were an inspiration to me, and below are some ideas you may want to take from the experiences I had in order to encourage your kids to be creative too….

Introduce the concept of work & reward: When I was a child, my Mum used to price up chores. Bringing in the milk earned me 10p, whilst doing the dishes was 30p, and it was up to me how much I earned and what I did with my money. Manageable chores for kids teach that money has to be earned and give a sense of achievement when they “get paid” for the work they’ve done. Some suggestions of manageable “pay-worthy” jobs for kids could include:

  • Tidying their rooms
  • Emptying the bins
  • Walking the dog
  • Sweeping the floor
  • Washing the car

This will teach your kids that dedication reaps rewards, and they’ll look forward to earning their own money by working. Rewards are what we all aim for, whether we’re 8 or 28 and although those 30p goals rise in accordance with our age (if we’re lucky!) the core of them remains the same. There’s no point in giving an allowance to kids and thinking they’ll be able to creatively come up with concepts to earn money, when you’ve just given them some for existing….

Teach your kids to listen to and appreciate others: When I was 13, my family relocated to a home with more than 30 people. My Mums job was as a warden for people in advanced years that were in sheltered housing. This, I believe, was one of the major stepping-stones for the path my life took. I firmly believe that the most valuable knowledge doesn’t come from classrooms or textbooks but from the experiences of others. By simply listening to people who have much life experience, you learn to appreciate difference in people and much more about life than you ever could in other ways. This listening and learning can help your children in business, to know what a potential customer needs is as valuable as gold dust and by listening to them, (and I mean really listening) you have much more idea of how to give them what they want. This can only lead to good things!

Encourage openness & honesty: My Dad is one of my main inspirations as a business person and the man I am today. He has proven himself to be honest, understanding and tolerant. Children learn so much more from their parents themselves than the lessons they purposely try to teach; they learn who they are and they aspire to be the same. A parent is a child’s biggest role model – children won’t remember what you tried to teach, but who you were. Be creative, and you’ll inspire creativity. Be enterprising, and you may just inspire the next great entrepreneur.

Teach good humour: My parents and having loads of aunties & uncles always taught me how to joke and laugh, this has set within me the boundaries of humour as I’ve grown as well as equipping me with confidence and understanding – vital elements to success. When applying this to your work, you’ll find you can build business relationships more easily, and be that person everyone wants to talk to- ideal when networking!

Support crazy ventures: I look back and cringe at many business ventures, such as running an online club for my pet hamster (seriously, it did happen!), a hotline where I charged 50p for game cheat codes (and my mum was confused to why loads of local kids were calling our spare room phone) but I also look back with appreciation and thanks to my parents for never letting me know just how crazy my ideas were. Of course i’m sure Mum and Dad will have known the some of the ideas were set to fail, but none the less they supported me throughout and this taught me the risk, diversity and discovery which is what entrepreneurship is all about.

Encourage the talents you may not understand: I don’t come from parents who are technologically savvy. However, once they noticed my passion and desire for all things technical they nurtured and encouraged this in all the ways they could. They even took out credit to buy me my own PC and were massively excited at all the things I learnt on my PC, even though they probably didn’t have a clue what I’d achieved with HTML and PHP. Support your child’s excitement with something they’ve achieved, and validate it by doing so. You’re giving them permission to think big, and they’ll thank you for it.

So next time your son or daughter wants to set up a shop selling very bitter lemonade outside your house, then give them a hand. This business venture may well not work out, but you never know, it could pave the way for the next Alan Sugar!

Calum Brannan is a 25 year old entrepreneur. The founder of one online social media course SO ME Academy and other ventures. Photo Credit: jDevaun

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