How to raise an Entrepreneur

You can teach your kid to become an entrepreneur the same way you can teach them to do anything. Incentivize the behavior until they realize the benefits and do so willingly. This how you train your child to do other things like exercise or do their homework. You start by trying to make the activity fun so that it is enjoyable. You don’t make your 8 year old run laps in the yard, you give them a soccer ball and have them run around chasing it. You can get them to do their homework and study by providing rewards for good grades. A lot of people think students should just want to get good grades and the satisfaction of a report card and the promise of a bright future should be enough. This is ridiculous. In the real world you get paid for your efforts, start your child of young learning that their are rewards for success. When they get good grades, give them cash, a toy, pizza, whatever it is that motivates them.

If you want to raise an entrepreneur. Make it fun and make it rewarding. Help them find something they can do to make money that they hopefully enjoy or at least don’t hate. Then rather than paying them cash (or other rewards) to do the chore or activity, try to change the dynamic so they invest their time and money for a growing return. Take lawn mowing for example, don’t just pay your teenager $10 to mow the lawn. Suggest that he be responsible for purchasing the mower, maintaining, and fueling it. In return you’ll pay them them a higher rate. Soon they’ll have the lawnmower paid off and will start generating profit. Suggest they find other people to mow lawns for. Get them to talk to the neighbors and see if they can make a similar deal. They may be nervous about it but in my experience most people would rather pay the neighbor kid than a stranger, as long as they do a good job. This will teach them to maximize their opportunity as well expose them to the unfortunate reality behind every successful business; sales. They must learn to approach strangers and sell their product or service.

I’ve spent my entire life selling. I’m not a natural salesman and don’t really enjoy it but I’ve become better at it and understand where my strengths are. I absolutely must meet two criteria when selling to be successful: I must feel a direct and immediate reward for my efforts and I must believe in and be excited about the product. When I’ve been successful selling is when I’ve owned the business. I perform much better selling for myself than someone else. When I sell for someone else, my reward is salary and potentially slightly better bonus or commission far into the future. It is really difficult to be discipline when you don’t feel a direct result of your work. When I’ve been a salesman for other companies, I’ve never fully bought into the product. An issue I have is that I like to learn about the product, company, and marketplace. This means I know all the faults of our product or service and I don’t believe what I’m selling is really the best. When I sell my own products, I feel my product is ideal and I know all the best features of what I’m selling. Teaching your child how to sell will ensure they have a career the rest of their life. People that can sell are always in demand and the lifeblood of every business, whether it is an and employee or entrepreneur.

As your child ages, raise the stakes of their entrepreneurial efforts. Make it clear that they can take any avenue that they can dream up to make money (so long as it is legal and ethical). Build their confidence rather than being skeptical. Understand the benefits of entrepreneurship and be willing to accept failures. Myself and many people I knew were hesitant to start businesses because we thought our friends and family would laugh at the idea or be critical if it was a failure. This held me back for a long time. I was from a social circle and family of well off people, which meant expectations were high. Having a failed business wasn’t going to cut it. For a long time, and still somewhat today, I was also bashful about what type of business to start.

For some idiotic reason I’ve got it ingrained in me that successful people work in offices and wear suits. My personality and passions would much rather be working in a garage or warehouse. I felt that starting a landscaping business or plumbing company was somehow beneath me. I thought that I had to be working in finance or some other “high class” industry. I hated finance, I hated offices, I hated cubicles; I wanted to be walking around doing something with my hands. I wanted to see physical progress being made everyday. Don’t push your child away from something because you think it’s beneath them. They can be successful doing anything if they are good at it.

Let them follow their interests (not just passions). Let them build a career they love. Most of all set an example for them that they should find something that they enjoy and want to be successful in.

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