The following is a guest post by Lior Levin.
These days, young entrepreneurs seem to be changing the world every day. Two of the largest and most important companies on the Web, Google and Facebook, were founded by people still in college, and it’s not uncommon to see entrepreneurs in their teens starting new businesses and launching products.
But no matter what type of business your son or daughter may want to open some day, it’s important to nurture and encourage the entrepreneurial spirit from an early age. While you can’t raise a child to be an entrepreneur, if he or she wants to become one it’s important that they have the skills and the mindset to be a successful one.
Besides, even if they choose to take a more traditional path, many of the skills that they might learn from having their entrepreneurial spirit fed can still serve them very well.
So what are some ways you can nurture your child’s entrepreneurial spirit? Here are five that you can start on today.
Freedom to Explore and Experiment
Good entrepreneurship comes from passion. People who are passionate about a product, service, skill, field, etc. become people who create good businesses based upon it.
However, children don’t know what their passions are yet. They need the chance to explore, enjoy, hate and even give up on things. School helps a great deal with that, exposing kids to a wide variety of knowledge and information, but hobbies and outside activities are more important.
Encourage your child to experiment, try new things and then focus on the things they are passionate about. Children often take up and give up on things quickly, that’s part of being a child, but when they do find something they are passionate about, so long as it’s healthy, it’s important to encourage it.
Let Them Run a Small Business
Though the idea of running a lemonade stand might seem a bit cliche, small, kid-friendly businesses are often a good way to teach children about the excitement, hard work and risk that goes into starting a business.
There are many childsafe businesses that you can get your son or daughter started in with little risk. This includes operating gumball machines in stores, selling handmade goods (either online or at craft fairs), car washes, etc. For older kids, taking on project-oriented businesses such as website design and even programming jobs can help teach about time management and problem resolution.
Regardless of what business your child starts, put the focus on tracking money spent vs. money earned, staying organized and getting your child thinking about how they can improve their business and make it more profitable.
Expose Them to Entrepreneurship
If you run a small business, let your son or daughter see what it is you do and be involved with it in a small way. If you don’t, see if your company might be willing to let him or her see what it take to keep things running.
Try to focus on giving your child a variety of experiences with running a business, everything from accounting to advertising and promotion . Have them understand the breadth of knowledge and expertise that it takes to run a small business.
It’s also a good idea to take them to a place, such as business organizations and conferences, where they can meet other entrepreneurs.
The more people they meet, not only the connections they’ll make but also the more they’ll be exposed to the personality that is pervasive among those who run a business.
Continue The Educational Push
While the tech industry in particular is littered with tales of dropout billionaires, it’s important to continue ensuring that your son or daughter focuses their efforts on school. Entrepreneurship, even among the best and brightest, has a high failure rate and having a solid education won’t hurt their ability to run a business.
Continue to nurture and encourage any traditional path that they have been interested in, not just to have a fallback plan, but to make them better-educated and better-connected. Education only opens doors, and that includes entrepreneurs.
Besides, if your son or daughter’s passion is strong enough, he or she find the time to invest in it outside of school.
Be Understanding and Supportive
Finally, every child who follows a passion is going to have setbacks, bad days and problems. As a parent, you have to be supportive in these dark times.
It can be easy to be negative and discouraging, to highlight the negatives in an attempt to avoid shielding them. As noble as that is, it’s important to be both the voice of reason when things are going well, and the voice of encouragement when things are rough.
Be supportive and work to keep your child driven and focused.
All in all, nurturing a child’s entrepreneurial spirit is more about nurturing their passions and exposing them to the realities of running a business. A strong passion for something combined with a solid background in how to run a business is what makes an entrepreneur great.
If you can give your child those two things and they decide they want to be an entrepreneur, they’ll have the highest chance of success that you can give them.
And that, in turn, is the best you can do as a parent.