Kids are great. I don’t know anyone who can text, watch TV, talk on the phone, and listen to music all at once with the smooth efficiency of a teenager. All the while being slightly annoyed at your very presence. Like I said, kids are great.
But their days on the couch are numbered, as new opportunity and higher education approaches. So every parent’s job becomes figuring out how to give their child the tools needed to go out into the world and do something great with their lives. And if you’re a small business owner, you know just how crazy, challenging, and ultimately rewarding it can be to achieve those lofty goals.
This is why instilling an ‘entrepreneurial mindset’ in your children at a young age can have a lasting positive impact throughout their lives. And even if they don’t end up becoming entrepreneurs, helping your children feel confident enough to identify and pursue their passion will help them find success in any realm.
Empowering a child is a lifelong goal, but one that can’t start early enough. Here are our top five tips to ingrain an independent, entrepreneurial spirit in your little ones.
Teach them the power of goal setting
I’m not sure which is harder: teaching your child to set goals, instead of always demanding instant gratification, or starting up an entirely new small business. Either way, helping your child learn to set goals and be patient enough to see them through is a necessary and invaluable skill.
The trick is to show them how much better the results can be when a project is seen through to the end. This can be as simple as setting a goal to make their bed every morning for week, with the resultant prize being a new toy or day at a water park. It might seem like a small task, but the self-control that is required to accomplish goals, instead of giving up or settling for less, will bode well for their future as a young entrepreneur.
Remember the marshmallow test? Children were told they could either have one marshmallow now, or two marshmallows in 15 minutes. To make it even more torturous, the child was then left alone in a room, with the marshmallow sitting on a table right in front of them.
While this made for some funny video, the study itself showed through follow-up interviews that the children who were able to last for 15 minutes, achieving the ultimate goal of two marshmallows, were better suited later in life for impulse control and good decision making. By reiterating the rewards waiting for them at the end of a set task, you can help you child focus on their goals, and teach a lifelong pattern of goal setting.
Teach them not to fear failure
Failure is a fact of life, one that most small business owners are acutely aware of. And unfortunately, an outsized fear of failure can outshine even the strongest will to succeed. So what’s the best way to help your child overcome a fear of failure? One of our favorite ways is to talk to them about your own failures, and how you learned from them, to show them that it’s not the end of the world when something doesn’t work out. But more importantly, how you used that new knowledge to try again.
Because it’s not enough to fail and feel good that you tried. But to fail, consider what happened, and have the courage to try again, can create a cycle of constant improvement. Teaching your child to never be satisfied, to always reach for something better, and not get discouraged if something doesn’t work out, will help them develop the resilient attitude that’s so necessary in the business world. As Leo Burnett once said, “When you reach for the stars, you may not get one, but you won’t get a handful of mud either.”
Teach them to recognize possibility
As entrepreneurs, how do we recognize opportunity? Usually, it comes from identifying a need or problem, and thinking about how we can provide a solution. So in this sense, encouraging children to come up with solutions to simple problems is the first step to creating an entrepreneurial mindset.
With a little creativity, the situations they are faced with on a daily basis can be turned into opportunities for new ideas. Something as simple as, ‘How do you think we can improve this bake sale?’ or ‘What would be an easier way to sell shirts to support your volleyball team?’ By allowing your child to take an active role in his or her own life, instead of passively letting others decide their fate, they will begin to feel that rush of autonomy that every entrepreneur lives for.
Teach them about money
It doesn’t take long for kids to learn the special appeal of a shiny new toy, or a must-have sugar-filled snack. And this natural desire can translate into a golden opportunity for parents to teach their children the value of money. Starting your children on a chore and allowance system early will teach them the value of work, as they learn to translate each individual chore into the payoff it will bring at the end. Not only that, but allowing them to use their allowance to purchase the things they want will suddenly make them think more carefully about how ‘must-have’ that item really is.
Teach them to embrace their creativity
The greatest tool small business owners utilize is their creativity. Coming up with original ideas and seeing those ideas into fruition, requires a great deal of dedication and creativity. So let your children embrace their creative instincts and encourage them to get outside of their comfort zone to try something new, because the more entrepreneurs we raise, the stronger our country’s economy will be.
Help them to think about the thing they love the most, and how they can possibly apply that passion to a real-life goal. Giving your child the tools to chase their ideas will help them become more confident, creative people no matter what type of profession they ultimately pursue.