If you’re an entrepreneur and have young children, it’s very easy to feel as if you’re involved in a constant war between giving enough time and energy to your business and spending sufficient time with your family. There doesn’t have to be so much friction between work and personal life, though. In fact, your children can benefit tremendously if you get them involved in your business pursuits.
The value of raising a little entrepreneur.
Think for a moment how much you would have benefited from being exposed to entrepreneurship at a younger age. If you actually were exposed to it, think about how much it has shaped your life. There can be tremendous value in being involved in entrepreneurial activities during your formative years, so you’d be doing your children a favor to bring them in. Here are a few potential benefits they could garner from the experience.
1. A better work ethic
It should come as no surprise that young children develop a better work ethic when they’re surrounded by entrepreneurship. This happens in two ways. First, they experience business operations first hand. Whether they’re filing papers and stuffing envelopes or cutting grass and pressure-washing driveways, you quickly understand the value of hard work if you’re thrown into the middle of it.
Second, and perhaps more important, children develop a positive work ethic when they’re exposed to yours. There’s something powerful about seeing a parent -- the most influential person in your life -- treat hard work as a normal state of affairs, and that’s seriously lacking in today’s culture.
2. Stronger appreciation for money
One of the biggest benefits of teaching your children about entrepreneurship is that you’re able to give them a stronger respect for money. Some children might believe you if you told them money grows on trees, but kids who are exposed to business operations know better.
“What helped me most is that I was always making my own money somehow, pretty much since I was 10,” says Fiona Kirkpatrick Parsons, a marketing professional who benefited from being exposed to entrepreneurship from a young age. “The message I received as a kid was, if you want something, you have to get busy and figure out how to do it for yourself. I never expected my parents to provide more than the basics, really. Learning self-reliance, trusting in your creativity and developing courage is a great gift.”
3. Creative thinking
Starting and expanding a business isn’t easy. Problems inevitably arise, and it’s up to you to fix them, and keep the firm moving in the right direction. Instead of hiding challenges and even setbacks from your kids, you should expose them directly to what’s happening. Not only will their unique input help, but you’ll show them what it looks like to think creatively.
4. Improved people skills
Certain kids are outgoing and gregarious, but most young children tend to fall toward the shy end of the spectrum when faced with interacting with adults or people with whom they aren’t familiar.
The beauty of working in a small business is that you’re forced to interact with unfamiliar individuals on a daily basis. This will significantly foster a child’s people skills and, in most cases, turn him or her into a better salesperson down the road.
5. Better goal setting
The value of setting and achieving goals isn’t something that easily registers with many children. Kids are notorious for starting something and then moving on without finishing it. Somewhere between the excitement of embarking on an adventure and the pleasure of arriving at the finished product, the average child gets bored and loses his or her sense of purpose. Fortunately, research shows that regular conversation and interaction between parents and children actually helps to shape a child’s “academic socialization.”
As a result, they’re better able to draw connections between their current behaviors and future goals. So if you spend extra time with your children in an entrepreneurial setting, where goals are clear and courses of action are constantly being developed and pursued in order to reach those goals, you can accelerate the rate of academic socialization and give your child a head start.
Get your kids involved.
The challenge many entrepreneurs encounter is finding age-appropriate ways to involve their children. Very young children obviously can’t be handed many complex and constructive tasks, but they can benefit from just being near you and feeling as if they’re involved.
As they get older, you can give them more responsibility and even begin to prepare them to enter the business -- if that’s something you and they desire. You don’t need some master plan, though. The best education you can provide your children simply entails exposing them to the duties you handle on a daily basis. This will provide them with life skills their peers won’t encounter for years to come.
Teach them about entrepreneurship, and they’ll make you proud.