So it’s another weekend and your kid is clinging to your pants leg, begging you for money to buy that candy bar/toy/video game they’ve had their eye on. It’s something every parent experiences often before your child can even talk (no joke, my kids were pointing at the animal cracker boxes at the grocery store before the age of 2).
Rather than treating this as an annoyance, instead look at it as an opportunity to foster the entrepreneurial spirit in your child. Take the time to explain to them how money works and where it comes from. It doesn’t need to be a full economics lesson, but let them know that people pay other people for goods or services that they want and then those people can take the money and use it buy good or services that they want.
I’m reminded of a book I was reading a while back. The name escapes me, but the parents of the protagonist took their son to a knife store and bought him a knife sharpening kit and a book on how to sharpen knives. From there, they made flyers and distributed them throughout the neighborhood.
As time went on, the young boy’s knife sharpening business went from a steady trickle to a torrent of customers. It eventually grew so large, the kid had to hire a couple of his friends in order to keep up with the demand.
Teaching your kids the basics of becoming an entrepreneur early on in life instills MANY valuable lessons beyond just making money. Even if their business is small, they will learn many advanced concepts like how to budget, the basics of marketing their product, what overhead costs are, and how to determine their break even point.
More than that, they will also likely learn or improve upon a skillset. In the example provided earlier, the young boy didn’t know the first thing about how to properly sharpen a knife. He spent hours reading the book and practicing on his parents’ knives before ever taking on a customer. By the end, he was able to sharpen any type of knife, including those with serrated blades. He had become a master in a relatively short time.
So how do you as the parent assist your child in an endeavor like this? Simply put, by being a parent. Support them where they need support, teach them what they must know to succeed, and cheer them on during their initial failures and successes.
As they grow older, their business venture may become something more serious than scrapping together a few bucks for the latest video game. This is a good opportunity to sit down with them and talk about their future goals, not just with the business, but for their life.
Do they want to own their own business when they grow up?
What college degree, if any, would help them expand their business?
Is this the only business they want to own?
What kind of life do they want to be living 10, 15, 20 years from now?
The power of the entrepreneurial spirit is one of the greatest forces that mankind can harness. Teach your child the power of this force young and watch them grow into a leader.