Kid entrepreneurs are on the rise in America and around the world.
A matter of fact, a recent Gallup poll shared:
“Nearly 8 in 10 students (77%) in grades 5 through 12 say they want to be their own boss, 45% say they plan to start their own business, and 42% say they will invent something that changes the world”
It was a powerful episode, especially since it was told not only from her perspective as a parent, but also from the perspective of her son, Brock Johnson.
Since the mission at Dinner Table MBA is to help awesome parents raise independent, confident kids, I felt like this was a topic we needed to touch upon.
Because whether your kids grow up to be entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs (people who bring entrepreneurial values into a traditional role at a company), the important thing is that they grow up to be self-sufficient and financially responsible.
As Chalene explains in part one of this episode, “I don’t think there’s anything more important we can give our kids than belief in themselves, just to know if they get in a pinch, they can get themselves out of a jam, financially, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically… that’s key in my mind. Cause that makes for a confident kid who’s able to live their own life.”
So how do you raise entrepreneurial kids?
Here are the most important things Chalene believes we should be teaching.
Here Are 7 Ways to Raise Kid Entrepreneurs
Teach Goal Setting
This is something that they don’t typically teach in school, but it’s such an important part of life.
Creating vision boards, setting SMART goals, and establishing good practices for staying focused and on task. Again, these are not traditionally taught in school but they’re essential for success as an entrepreneur or intrapreneur.
Encourage your kids to set financial goals, goals around fitness, or just about anything they’re doing.
Make Them Stick with Their Commitments
Chalene says, “I hadn’t ever considered how valuable being a part of a team and playing sports is in developing young, confident kids who understand responsibility and follow through.”
But, as they noted on the podcast, making a commitment to be a part of a team, showing up for all the practices, and sticking with it, even when they may have lost interest, helps them learn the importance of following through with commitments.
Now I’m not suggesting that you force your kids to stick with their commitments forever. But if it’s a team sport, for example, they should stick with it until that season is over. And then, when the next season comes around, they can decide if they want to renew their commitment to that team or if they would rather try something else.
Give Them the Experience of Earning
While it’s important to let kids be kids, it’s also important to let them have positive experiences where they begin to see what’s possible. Help them understand that they have the ability to earn money for themselves.
It doesn’t have to be a full business, either. You can accomplish this with letting them run their own lemonade stand or wash mailboxes in their neighborhood for $5 per mailbox. It’s not about the money. It’s about teaching them that they have the ability to provide for themselves.
It’s about giving them a positive experience around earning their own money and teaching them how capable they are.
And encourage them to be imaginative in coming up with business ideas. Kids are incredibly creative and even though their ideas aren’t always practical or realistic, they can be extremely innovative and come up with ideas that would never have occurred to adults.
Let Them Buy Their Own Car
There are different schools of thought on this.
Dave Ramsey, for example, told his kids that he would match their savings dollar-for-dollar as they saved for a car.
Chalene explains that she and her husband, Brett, told their kids they would match their car savings, but says that, today, she would probably choose to make them buy their own car entirely.
Because of the incredible pride they have, knowing they did it on their own, without taking out a loan or borrowing money from mom and dad.
As Chalene says, it’s a profoundly important step to building their own confidence.
At the very least, you can sit them down and show them, based on how much they’re saving, what kind of car they can buy. And then you can show them how much more they could get, in the way of a used car, if they saved X more dollars.
Brock says, “My first car was MY car. No one had bought it for me. I hadn’t taken out a loan. I hadn’t borrowed from my parents. I bought this car on my own and I was very proud of it. And because I owned the car myself, I also made all the profit when I sold the car.”
Let them Figure Out Stuff on Their Own
Rather than telling Brock what to do, she let him figure it out on his own, teaching him to think for himself.
So when it came time for him to sell the truck, Chalene responded to his questions with “How do you think you do that?”
While she guided him and gave him as much information as possible, she still made Brock figure out how to list his truck, research what questions he needed to be prepared to answer and what pitfalls to avoid. Brock was also responsible for taking the phone calls about the truck and showing the truck to potential buyers.
She encourages parents to “teach [their kids] that with information, with knowledge, comes power. Brett and I felt that it was appropriate for Brock to do the negotiating, to take the phone calls, to go out and meet people… I wanted him to go through that process so he wasn’t intimidated or fearful of that. Something I think a lot of adults today get very nervous to negotiate rates, to have conversations with strangers, to do a transaction like that… He had a lot of confidence to figure things out by himself. When you’re doing these things for your kid, I know it feels like you’re helping them but you’re not; you’re kind of enabling them.”
Let Your Kids Make Decisions (Even If It Isn’t What You Would Do)
This is so important for teaching your kids that, regardless of what decisions they make, they have the ability to figure things out on their own.
It teaches them confidence and resilience.
Chalene encourages parents to lay out the consequences for decisions their kids are making and then leave the final decision to them, even if it isn’t what they, as parents, would choose.
She explains, “That’s really, really important, otherwise you paralyze kids into believing that they will make the wrong decision. You have to let them know sometimes you’re going to make a decision that doesn’t work out and it’s going to be okay, you’ll figure it out.”
As Brock explains in the podcast, he realized that Georgetown University wasn’t the right place for him and he left the school with no backup plan for where to go next. Inevitably, he got into UC Davis, but he wasn’t admitted to any other college when he made the decision to leave Georgetown and head back to southern California.
Assistant Principal Azul Terronez experienced something similar when his son decided to leave art school.
“He went to the Art Center in Pasadena, which is a pretty prestigious school. He got there. About week 4, he called me crying, he’s like, I hate it here. I’m like, what’s going on? He goes, all they want me to do is draw 14 skulls with my right hand and then draw the same skull with my left hand and he goes, it’s not about creativity. They want me to be good at this so that someday I can work for somebody and they can tell me to do this. And then he goes, I don’t love art for that reason. I can’t do it.
I was like, then what do you want to do? He’s like, I want to leave. I was like, absolutely you should leave like $250,000 later, and you hate it? That’s terrible. He goes, yeah, and then I’ll have to work for someone because all I have is an art degree and I’ll have to pay things, no, so he took a gap year and went to the UnCollege program started by a kid that was homeschooled, one of Thiel’s 20 under 20 started this program. And so he went and lived in Brazil for three months in a hostel and helped kids and did photography, which was his new passion. So he’s still finding his way, still trying to figure it out. But the thing I learned is, look, you’re never too late to let go and don’t try to do things that don’t fit you.”
Lead by Example
It’s important to remember that your kids are watching you and how you live your life. Empower your kids by leading by example. Teach them that they are capable and kind by being capable and kind on your own.
And you do this by making time for them, by prioritizing them.
As Dr. Jess Shatkin explains, “You really need to make time for your kids. You really need to sit with them. You need to be involved in a dinner table every night, or most nights, or many nights, where you sit and you listen, and it’s not a 10-minute dinner…. It’s a ‘How was your day? What went well today? Here, let me tell you about what happened with me and my boss. And they get to learn about the world, understand how things are.”
Summary: Raising Kid Entrepreneurs
While there’s no parenting handbook and though every child is unique in personality and interests, there are some things you can do to encourage entrepreneurial traits.
These things include:
- Teaching Goal Setting
- Making Them Stick with Their Commitments
- Giving Them the Experience of Earning
- Letting Them Buy Their Own Car
- Letting Them Figure Out Stuff On Their Own
- Letting Your Kids Make Decisions (Even If It Isn’t What You Would Do)
- Leading By Example
What do you think?
If you’re still not convinced, before you go, watch this VERY popular Ted talk on raising kid entrepreneurs by Cameron Herold (I’m sure you’ll love it):
Is there anything else you would do to encourage entrepreneurial values? Or anything you disagree with?
Let us know.
We would love your thoughts!