One of the entrepreneur’s ultimate visions of success is seeing his or her kids join the entrepreneurial journey.
I remember the moment it happened for my son like it was yesterday.
When he was 5 years old, my son came to me with a smile on his face and asked me for an allowance. He had been hearing how his friends were getting a weekly check to buy things. I quickly told him that’s not how the world works and that if he wanted to have money he’d have to earn it by bringing value to people. He gave me a confused look in return.
To help him understand, I told him I would give him a chance to earn the money instead of giving him an allowance. The deal I made with my son was simple. I offered him $20 per week if he would go to work with me at my real estate office for one day each week.
For several weeks, I picked him up every Friday after school to sit in my office and observe how I ran my business. At first, he was bored. He’d grab a piece of paper from the printer in my office and doodle on it to entertain himself. After a couple of weeks, he came out of his shell and walked around the office talking to my employees and customers.
Now it is six years later and he is an entrepreneur himself.
Two months ago, my son and I attended a marketing conference in Dallas, Tex., called ClickFunnels Live. At first, I was worried my son wouldn’t understand some of the marketing concepts presented, since most of the speakers and attendees were two to three times his age. My fears were put aside when I saw how the show host, Russell Brunson, presented the information. The content was easy to consume and made relevant to all event attendees. It didn’t matter if you were running a million-dollar business, or if you were just beginning, everyone received value from the event. They even got to hear from world-renowned business strategist, Tony Robbins, who spoke for almost five hours.
There were also two kid entrepreneurs who spoke about their journeys to success. One was 9-year-old Emily Shai, who wrote a book and sold it door-to-door until she made $20,000. She called herself the “Pitch Princess.” The other young presenter, 15-year-old Caleb Maddix, created a six-figure business as a speaker, author and coach.
My son was blown away by the young entrepreneurs’ energy. He was hooked the minute he got there and even asked if he could stay up late for “The Hackathon,” a special late-night session where attendees met the speakers and other marketers. There were round tables set up as working stations, the food was provided all night, and over a thousand attendees were given the opportunity to network, learn techniques that work and hack sales marketing funnels. I learned that you are never too young to network; my son met top marketers and received great advice on how to build his marketing strategy.
After a full day of activity, I was exhausted and tired, but my son wanted to keep going. He couldn’t stop talking about what he was going to implement in his own business. His 11-year-old mind was energized by the endless possibilities of being an entrepreneur.
He learned how to use technology to reach his audience and this inspired him to map out his business plan on the flight back home. Once we got home, he used what he had just learned to build a landing page and create his first webinar funnel.
As I think about the past five years that I’ve worked with my son and recount the missed meetings with clients because I had to pick him up, the times I was late to meetings because I had to drop him off and all the deals I probably missed because I dedicated a half-day every week to teaching my son entrepreneurship, I am thankful and proud. Every minute, every missed deal, every late meeting was worth it.
Parents frequently ask me how I taught my son to be an entrepreneur. I believe that as parents we must help our children find their way. Whether they become entrepreneurs, artists or anything they want, our job is to lead them on the path they want to go.
Here is a list of five things that you can do to lead your entrepreneurial kids in the right direction.
1. Show your kids what you do in your business.
Kids are smart and they will understand your business. It will surprise you how quickly they pick up on what it takes to make money.
I have always been open with my kids regarding my work and how I make money. They have learned there must be a value exchange for money and that money doesn’t simply grow on trees. They also know entrepreneurs must make tough decisions to ensure business success.
2. Find a way to make them part of your business.
If it means taking them to work with you for a few hours each week, do it! What you may lose in personal productivity that day will result in quality time invested in your kids.
As I mentioned, my son was bored sitting at work with me all those weeks, but after he saw the value of earning $20 and a trip to the park, he wanted to continue. He learned he had to work to earn his right to play.
3. Make them pay for the things they want.
I can’t remember the last time my kids asked me to buy them something. If they want it, they find a way to earn the money they need or they don’t buy it. Since he has been earning $20 per week, my son has been paying his own way. Most of the time he thinks twice about spending his money because he knows he has to work for it.
4. Show them the impact money can make.
Each year, we take a family trip to the Dominican Republic to visit a public school to donate books and toys. My kids bring bags of toys they have bought and make handwritten notes for the kids. They know creating an impact is the entrepreneur’s ultimate game -- and the reason for making money. Find a way to integrate them into your mission.
5. Discover what your kids love to do and help them create a business around it.
This takes time. Entrepreneurship doesn’t happen overnight. All we can do as parents is provide learning opportunities, but what they do with those opportunities is up to them. Don’t lose faith if they don’t understand everything at first. Find something they love to do and leverage it to build their interest in business.
For example, my daughter loves to design and decoratie, so we have found a way for her to work with some of my real estate investors determining rehab patterns and décor for their flip properties.
Not every kid will be an entrepreneur. As parents, we are here to help our kids find themselves. Now is a crucial time for us to invest in our kids. All the tools and technology we have available today can help us bring opportunities to those who are ready to learn. They have access to more information and tools than we ever did growing up. We need to help them create a better future for themselves and avoid the mistakes we made. They will eventually make their own. But, that’s what being an entrepreneur is all about: Knowing how to adapt, adjust and execute.