I’m at work, it’s March Break and the kids are home for a week. I get a call from my wife who runs and operates her own business sometimes from home. “Your son wants to go dumpster diving.”
“You heard me,” she continued. “Dumpster diving.”
“He says it could make him money. He can do it as a business.”
“Um, okay I guess. But I’d have to come with him to be safe.”
This is just one of the many conversations that go on in my home. Our kids forever brainstorming ideas on how to make money, pitching everything they can think of, trying to eventually convince their mother and I to invest. Though we’ve had to sit too many elevator pitches by our kids, one thing my wife and I can agree on is there’s no better way we’d want them to spend their time than to dream about running their own business.
I know what you’re thinking and yes, we will let our kids be kids. Video games, play dates, movies, junk food, sports teams, etc., etc. They still do all the things “normal” kids would do at their age. But like many other parents we always wanted to teach our kids the value of working for something. So instead of just giving them “allowance” for chores and other household duties, we encourage them to get creative and think of ways to exchange a product or service for income.
There are many advantages to having your kids learn business principles even before they become teenagers. There are 5 main reasons why we help our kids start businesses:
Give them a reason to use the math skills they learn in school. Let’s be real, as parents, when we were kids we learned about math but rarely did we learn about how to use all types of math in the real world. I hear this all the time from many of my colleagues. Helping your kids run a simple lemonade stand or snow shoveling business gets them to practice simple math equations, budgeting and so on.
By teaching them about running a business or becoming an entrepreneur we’re giving them the keys to dream of what their life could possibly look like.
Gives them a good basic understanding of how the economic world works. As I mentioned earlier, we want our kids to learn how to work for something if they want it. I believe most parents think the same way. As grown ups we realize no one gives you anything for free. We get paid or compensated for the value we provide whether through our own businesses or places of employment. It’s not enough to teach kids to run a business, but to run a good business. One that provides real value to their customers. Value translates into sales, which in turn makes happy children.
Helps them to be creative and expand their thinking. Almost every other week my 13 year old son comes to me with another concept of a business he wants to run. Like any good father I give him advice as to whether he should pursue it or not. Either way the wheels are turning in his head. He and his 11 year old sister continually use their brain power for something positive instead of negative, or worse yet, being idle.
They can make their own money. Simply put, the more money my kids make, the less money I have to give out in allowance. From what I can see that’s a win-win for everybody! All joking aside, as their parents my wife and I are responsible for making sure our kids have everything they need regarding life necessities. Anything else is icing on the cake. Their businesses can pay for that extra icing.
Lets them see that creating a job is another option in life. We want our kids to know that working for someone isn’t the only option in life. Working for yourself is a real option and not just a pie in the sky dream. It’s something we are embedding in them now so when they get to high school their mentality won’t just be to get into University with the hope of getting a good job. That will of course be one option, but not their only option. By teaching them about running a business or becoming an entrepreneur we’re giving them the keys to dream of what their life could possibly look like.
We don’t have it all figured out when it comes to teaching our kids about the dollars and cents of business excellence. But we do know we don’t want our kids to be trapped in the “ideal” box of what it means to have a career in the future. Opening their minds to the many other possibilities in life is one of the keys to raising happy, healthy (and hopefully wealthy) children.