SAN ANGELO, Texas — The sign was difficult to read. It was written in blue highlighter on white paper and I knew the cars driving past my house would not be able to read it.
It wasn’t my job to criticize the sign, but to lead my grandchildren to discover how difficult the sign was to read from a distance. When I walked them down the street, they couldn’t read it and decided to use a black marker instead. What was happening here was their first experience in starting their own business.
It started simple. I had cut some mistletoe out of the tree and hung it above my front door. The grandchildren liked knowing it was there and wanted some to take home. I assured them that they probably already had some growing in one of their trees, but nonetheless they set a plan in motion.
The older one got the ladder and climbed the tree. The youngest put the mistletoe in the wagon. Soon they began to realize they had more mistletoe than they needed to take home and the idea to sell some was born. They earned $3 that day, but the lessons will be with them forever.
In providing children with the opportunity to earn money, it sets the wheels in motion to foster their entrepreneurial spirit. Troy Dunn, father of seven and a self-made millionaire, provides guidance in his book, “Young Bucks — How to Raise a Future Millionaire.”
Dunn sets the stage about entrepreneurs, “Most often they were children, just like yours, who were taught by their parents, early in their lives, to identify their talents, trust their instincts, and use both to create unique, profitable businesses.”
Some parents teach their children they should not have to worry about money because there’s plenty of time to focus on finances when they are adults. Dunn challenges that, “I can assure you that teaching your children that they are capable of earning their own money is one of the most positive and empowering gifts you can give a child.”
Dunn offers three steps to become a parent who will guide their child to entrepreneurial success.
Take the fear out of money
It is very important to teach your child to respect money. Using phrases like “Don’t assume there’s more where that came from,” or “Do I look like an ATM machine?” only serve to spread the fear. Take the negatives out of the money references. If you child is willing to work, is sensible and understands the business principals you teach, the money will be there.
Share the Good News about Work
You obviously know if you like or hate your job. But guess what? So do your children. You and your spouse are the closest connection they have to the world of work. It’s important to be as positive as you can about work and the fact that making money can be fun. Share the details of your day in a positive way. Let your children hear the details about your day as they will learn something from everything you share.
Step Out of Your Grown-Up Suit
Childhood fantasies fade as children grow up because parents discourage them from pursuing them so they can focus on “real world” concerns such as school and work. Raising an entrepreneur is just the opposite. Identify their interests and behaviors and that will lead to the clues of their talents.
Small businesses are the mainstay of our economic system. Raising children who will someday own their own companies is a very important job. Troy Dunn offers much more guidance on how to raise self-sufficient children. Information on that guidance and how to apply it to your children or grandchildren will be the topic of my next “Business Tips” article.
“Business Tips” was written by Peggy Rosser, Rural Business Development Specialist and Certified Business Adviser IV of Angelo State University’s Small Business Development Center. Contact her at Peggy.Rosser@angelo.edu.