How To Teach Your Kids To Be Entrepreneurs




Marc Hardgrove, entrepreneur, USA for Forbes

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s a question we ask kids all the time. At a young age, their answers are all over the place: an astronaut, a professional wrestler, a unicorn. But when kids get older, they become a little more realistic. And while every parent wants his or her kids to do what makes them happy, a lot of us would like our kids to follow in our own footsteps, too.

This is especially true for entrepreneurs. Many of us have worked our way up from nothing to become successful. But passing that drive on to our kids can be a different kind of struggle. I’m not going to pretend that I have all the answers, but in the last 17 years of being a father, I’ve learned enough lessons — and made enough mistakes — to pass on.


Show Them The Value Of Sweat


I grew up in a blue-collar family. My parents worked their fingers to the bone just to pay the bills. I wanted to give my kids more. After years of working my tail off, I was able to do just that. They took the best vacations, went to the best private schools, ate the best food and wore the best clothes. Then, one day, I realized I had raised a couple of spoiled rich kids.

I could appreciate how much we had because I knew how it felt to go without. But wealth is all my kids knew. They felt entitled to it. As a parent, it’s hard to resist giving your kids the world on a silver platter. But if you want them to appreciate what they have, you have to temper your generosity.

I don’t let my kids get away with being lazy. If they keep up their grades and play sports or do clubs, they get an allowance. If not, the rules change. Last year, my son quit the basketball team. So, I made him come into my office to earn some money on his own. I threw him into the bullpen and had him make sales calls. He might have been unhappy at first, but it didn’t take long for him to catch on. And when he closed his first sale, he caught that sense of accomplishment. Now, he’s a sales partner.

Lead By Example


Our kids learn by watching us. And if I were to keep my work and family life separate, they might get the idea that our money and my hard work aren't related, like the money just showed up on its own. I’ve been very intentional in not hiding my work from my kids. I’ve brought them into the office and made calls from home. I’ve even handled business while we were on the beach in the Caribbean. Because that’s the price of success. I don’t know a single business owner who doesn’t work on vacation. That’s what being an entrepreneur costs.

Our children need to see that for themselves. It’s hard for them to process that the “real world” is going to demand action, so we need to show them a little bit of the action we take every day.

Invite Some Other People In


Our kids don’t always think we’re cool. Some of us know that too well. There are going to be times when you’re trying to teach your kids a lesson, and they’re just going to roll their eyes at you. This is when it’s time to bring in backup.

My son might think I’m a square, but he thinks that our COO George is the coolest guy ever. If I give my son some advice, he might say it’s the lamest thing he’s ever heard. But if George says the same thing, he holds on to it like it’s scripture. So, trust your partners to speak into your kids’ lives, too.

 

Show Them The Hard Stuff


The life of an entrepreneur is filled with struggle and sacrifice. It can be downright painful. If we want our kids to be entrepreneurs, we need to give them an honest of picture of what it looks like. That means being genuine.

It means letting them know when business is suffering. It means letting them know how much sleep you’re missing. And then, when they get their own feet wet, you’re going to have to let them learn what failure tastes like.

When my son first started making sales calls, he didn’t take to it right away. He had a few bad calls. He’s been hung up on. He’s flubbed pitches. It sucked, but it comes with the territory.
Let your kids know how hard it can be. And, who knows? They might even realize they don’t want to be an entrepreneur.

Don’t Pressure Them Into It


Most parent wants their kids to follow in their footsteps. But your kids are their own people. They have their own dreams. And at the end of the day, it’s best for them to do what makes them happy.

I want my kids to have the same success and freedom that I have, but the price of being an entrepreneur might be too high for them. They might value security over autonomy. Working nine-to-five for someone else might seem like a waste of their talents. But if that’s what they really want, you're going to have to come to terms with that, or else they’ll just end up resenting you.

As parents, all we can do is give our kids the best education and opportunities possible so they’ll be equipped to do whatever they want to with their lives. You can show them how to use a resume builder, how to work hard and the reward for that hard work, but it’s up to them to use those tools to build the kind of life they want to live. And in the end, that’s far more important than whether or not they become an entrepreneur.

Origin

Ken Robinson. Changing Education Paradigms

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