Take a look at your beautiful child. Now, close your eyes. Imagine your child 20 years from now in a professional setting. What do you see?
Is he an anonymous corporate drone slouched in a desk chair hidden among a vast sea of cookie-cutter cubicles? Is he sheepishly cowering before The Boss? Is he bored, uninspired, counting the seconds to 5pm? Is he playing it safe in a dull job while secretly dreaming of running his own show?
Is she huddled with her team to brainstorm on the latest killer idea? Is she her own boss taking charge of her own destiny? Is she motivated, inspired, waking up early to put her great ideas to work? Is she taking calculated risks and bouncing back from inevitable setbacks as she turns her professional dreams into reality?
I’m betting it’s more like door number two.
Now, connect the dots. Is there something you can do as a parent to help open that door for your child? Perhaps you can plant the seed by giving your kid an early taste of the entrepreneurial spirit. How? Help your child launch a micro-business.
Are you game? If so, here are three suggestions to keep in mind.
Keep It Simple.
Relax. Your kid doesn’t need to be the next Mark Zuckerberg or Oprah Winfrey — well, not yet at least. Furthermore, you’re probably no Harvard B-School professor, and I’m guessing you don’t have a ton of spare time on your hands to suddenly become one. Here’s the good news: you can keep things very, very simple and still give your youngster real insight into what it’s like to plan, launch, and run her own business.
One great way to keep things simple (and largely self-guided) is to follow an age-appropriate pre-built template. Check out these step-by-step guides from Biz Whiz Academy:
- Ages 7 to 11
- Ages 12 to 15
- Ages 16 to 19
Here are some additional resources to help you keep things simple as you encourage your budding kidpreneur: the Biz in a Boxx entrepreneurship kit, the delightful Bea is for Business book series, and tips on running a lemonade stand.
You can be the venture capitalist, the trusted advisor, and the occasional lackey for your kid’s micro-business, but please-please-please do not usurp the CEO position! That’s a sure-fire way to dilute the power of your kid’s experience, if not completely crush her fragile entrepreneurial spirit. Suppress your inner control-freak, back off, and let your kid run her own business — possibly even into the ground (see next point).
Plan to Succeed. Prepare to Fail.
50% of startups fail within 4 years (see study).
95% of kidpreneur businesses fail within 4 weeks.
OK, I pulled that second one out of my Dad-hole, but you get the idea. Share at least one of those stats with your aspiring kidpreneur just to temper expectations. Prepare your child (and yourself) for the distinct possibility that his little micro-business could implode in a micro-second.
I’m not saying your kid should plan to fail. In fact, following one of those canned, simple templates above will vastly increase the odds of a successful experience. But if the venture does go south, it shouldn’t be a soul crushing experience. Just take a break, and try again later with a different idea or approach.
P.S. No, I don’t think everybody needs to be a full-fledged entrepreneur — it can be a risky, stressful path. That said, I do think everyone harbors a little bit of the entrepreneurial spirit, and a side-hustle can be a great way to express it someday. Give your kid a chance to let that spirit shine with your help now, so she’ll have the confidence to do it on her own later.