As a kid, I didn't do well in school. I always struggled in the classroom. But early on, I realized that I loved business, I loved making money, and I loved finding new ways to do it.
My dad groomed my siblings and me to be entrepreneurs. He realized pretty quickly that I wasn't going to fit in with everything I was being taught in school, so he forced me to work on my innate talent for business. Most children don't get that type of education, and I think that's a shame.
I really believe if we can get our kids to embrace the idea of being entrepreneurial, we can solve every problem in our world today. Somewhere out there, a kid has an idea that will fix one of those problems.
But I think we miss the opportunities to find kids with entrepreneurial traits and help them develop those traits even further. Your kids probably won't learn much about being an entrepreneur in school or by playing with toys. If you want to nurture those instincts in them, it will be up to you to do it.
Start with these 8 lessons.
1. Don't Waste Money
I can vividly remember being told to walk out into the middle of a street and pick up a penny. Why? Because my dad had just seen me throw it into the street. He worked hard for his money and wasn't going to watch me waste even a penny.
That lesson stuck with me. Teach your kids the value of money. Don't let them waste it, even if it seems insignificant.
2. Hustle For Payment
Allowances teach kids the wrong lessons. An allowance grooms them to expect a payment, to think like an employee. An entrepreneur does not expect a regular paycheck. If you're trying to raise an entrepreneur, you need to teach them to hustle for payment.
My first business venture was selling coat hangers to dry cleaners when I was seven years old. As a child, I went door to door selling everything from newspapers to license plate protectors. I didn't have a choice. I had to hustle to make money. And while I was doing that, I was learning the principles of business.
3. Negotiate And Find New Opportunities
Even if you are not giving your kids an allowance, you can still help them earn money. You just have to change the way you go about it. My kids walk around our house and our yard, and they look for things that need to be done.
Then they come back to me, tell me what the job is, and we negotiate a price. That teaches them to seek out opportunities that aren't staring them right in the face, and it teaches them how to negotiate for a better price.
4. Manage Finances And Save
Kids shouldn't wait to start saving money. Get them two piggy banks or bank accounts. Fifty percent of everything they earn should go into one account, and they can spend it as they please. The other fifty percent needs to be saved in the bank or be invested.
It drives me crazy when I hear thirty-year-olds say they are about to start contributing to their retirement fund. They've only missed about twenty-five years, right? You can teach those habits to young kids, and it will stick with them for the rest of their lives.
5. Think On Their Feet
Do you read your kids a bedtime story every night? Try cutting back on that. Instead, read to them three or four nights out of the week. The other nights, have them tell a story. Give them four items and have them create a story for you using those items. It teaches them to think on their feet, to be creative, to sell. Those are all traits that entrepreneurs need to have.
6. Talk In Front Of People
Make your kids stand up and talk in front of people, even if they just do it for a few friends. Have them put on plays, give speeches, or tell a story. Just make sure they're prepared for an audience. Every entrepreneur has to give presentations, express their ideas, and talk to people they don't know. It's an invaluable skill to teach your children.
7. Understand What Good And Bad Employees Look Like
When you go out to eat or head to the grocery store, point out good and bad employees to your kids. Show them the grumpy employees and the bad customer service. Explain to them why that employee is not good.
But make sure you point out the excellent employees, too. Help them understand what makes great customer service. Make sure they understand the difference between the good and the bad, and why it's so important to a business.
8. How To Sell And Fix Prices
You probably have tons of toys lying around the house that don't get used. Why not take those toys and show your kids how to sell them on Craigslist or eBay? Obviously you need to supervise this, but they'll learn how to detect scammers and identify good offers. Teach them how to fix the price, guess the price, and negotiate for a better price.
Not every kid is meant to grow up to be a doctor or a lawyer. That's okay. We should be looking for entrepreneurial traits in our children and nurturing those, so that they can grow up to own businesses. Hopefully, they will solve a few of our problems along the way.
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