How to Teach Your Kids Valuable Business Lessons for the Future


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One of the things I have come to enjoy about being a franchise consultant is the easy comfort I have with new franchise candidates. We tend to have a lot in common, and one of the overlooked motivations to start a business is being a role model and leaving a legacy for their children.

As a father of triplets who made a similar career shift to entrepreneurship, I understand firsthand the desire to prepare my kids for an ever-changing professional landscape. But where do you start?

Below I’ve compiled a list of tips to get your kids involved in business.

Related: How to Raise Entrepreneurial-Minded Kids

1. Join school clubs

Encourage children to get involved with business clubs at school. Resources through high school might include DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) and FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America). These clubs nurture high school kids to experiment in different areas of business and compete locally, regionally and nationally in sales, marketing, finance and other business-related areas.

One of my daughters joined the DECA club at her high school, as well as a business program called CAPS. Up until high school, she had never experienced a job outside of the family home or gained exposure to careers to ignite her interest. She immediately found a calling after joining DECA. With our encouragement, she stepped into the scary category (for most kids) of professional sales. She ended up winning the DECA Missouri state competition and continued on to the national competition. She learned that business has areas with barriers to entry with less competition, leaving a space for innovation and growth.

2. Start young

Encourage kids at the youngest age possible to think entrepreneurially. If they want to start a lemonade stand, car wash, etc., join in! It will be a hassle for you to help facilitate this initially, but it helps them to imagine earning their own income and plants a seed of possibility. Plus, a fundamental understanding of the economy in that it takes work and effort to create income, is an invaluable lesson they will take with them.

It’s important to note: not every kid is going to be entrepreneurial. However, even if they don’t have an entrepreneurial spirit, no matter their career path, experiencing how to handle customers and deal with customer service will benefit them in the future.

3. Facilitate mentorship connections

As kids get older, it’s important they learn from business opportunities that are not your own. We all want kids to be independent, but they will need help to get a foot in the door. Help them get their first jobs and exercise your network for your kids to get real work experience.

For example, we use our family connections to help make introductions. One of my daughters who is interested in business has had two internships, one with a sign company and one with a real estate company. My other two daughters connected with neighbors, leading to mentorship opportunities. One neighbor owns a craft company, so my artistic daughter got a job with them and now runs summer camp classes for kids. Another neighbor who is a nephrologist (kidney doctor) in private practice offered another daughter (who hopes to pursue a medical career) the opportunity to shadow him.

Allowing their interests to shape which opportunities they’ll pursue also teaches that there are successful businesses in vastly different industries.

Related: 5 Benefits of Teaching Young Children About Entrepreneurship

4. Teach them financial empowerment

An empowering lesson, and one you can start young, is how to be a responsible consumer. When my kids were toddlers, we started “The Bank of Dad.” My daughters each got a $2 weekly allowance which I tracked on my phone. The only place they had purchasing power was the local Dollar Tree, so most weeks they would nag me to take them. I would let them browse the aisles and select an item to purchase with their own money (it was noted that I would sponsor the sales tax). It was incredible to see how quickly they learned several important lessons.

First, they could not select multiple toys — they had to pick something that fit within their $2 budget. Second, a $1-$2 toy wasn’t top quality and would frequently break. Third, if they opted to forgo a purchase one week, they would have twice as much money the next week to buy a better toy, or they could save longer-term.

Now that they are graduating from high school, it’s turned into a family joke and someone will frequently “sponsor” a Starbucks run. We also moved them past smart spending to saving, investing and managing their own bank accounts as early as possible.

5. Contributing to the whole

We have always taught our children the value of contributing to something larger than yourself. The two areas we emphasize most consistently are the collective family and your local community.

Contributing to the collective family might take the form of chores or leading a family project. Additionally, getting kids involved in the local community is immensely valuable. As an entrepreneur, you need an abundance mindset that isn’t focused inward. From a young age, performing charity work and volunteering creates the time and space to support their volunteer pursuits. Finally, helping friends, family and neighbors when you expect nothing in return is a family value.

Related: How I Taught My Children to Follow in My Footsteps and Become Entrepreneurs

6. Encourage them to pursue leadership opportunities

Whether this be school clubs or organizations, encourage your kids to run campaigns and take them seriously. Many students can be intimidated by pursuing leadership roles until they get into the weeds.

My daughter organized a successful campaign for DECA president and led the chapter with pride, mentoring younger students. These leadership experiences support your kid’s goals and build confidence while demystifying the fear behind putting yourself out there. Win or lose, these experiences help build skills like conflict resolution, leadership and responsibility.

At the end of the day, there’s no one-size-fits-all for teaching kids about business, but if you’re looking for a few actionable ways to get the ball rolling, consider trying some of these tips.

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