Recently my thoughts turned to parenting. During challenging times the role of a parent is vitally important. A big part of parenting is providing guidance to those we are responsible for, our children.
Parental Guidance and parental involvement has a place in entrepreneurship. As parents, the support and encouragement given during your child’s development of an idea or a business opportunity can make a real difference.
If you are an entrepreneur yourself, you may think or hope that your child will follow in your footsteps and eventually take over your business. There is real truth to the saying that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”. Perhaps your entrepreneurship has inspired your child to start their own business. Let’s hope so. Even if you are not a traditional entrepreneur, but demonstrate a dedicated work ethic, your actions can have impact on those that look up to you.
While the job market is uncertain and nobody can predict what will be the future employment picture for today’s youth, one thing is certain. If there are a limited number of jobs and employment is difficult to find, a young person can always create their own job through entrepreneurship. Youth based on energy, less risk, as well as the benefit of ever-growing technology and increasing unmet needs give the children of today a real opportunity to start and grow their own business. There is no better time than right now for your child to consider starting their own venture.
There are many different approaches to parenting and this also holds true with entrepreneurship. Here are a few things to consider as parents, if or when your child comes to you with an idea or concept seeking parental guidance in starting a business:
Keep a balanced approach. Try to encourage the development of the idea but don’t be so involved that you end up giving more of your input then your child. Balance your overall involvement, especially if you have other children who are not involved in the business idea.
Provide constructive suggestions and avoid negativity. It can be difficult, especially since guidance is something being provided that draws on experience. Many times people tend to project limits on things they have had difficulty doing themselves on others. This is true in many areas of life, even in the business world. Do your best to realize your child is an individual and while they may appreciate constructive words of advice, take care to not focus on negative elements of an idea. It is important to start with the positive areas and then work on eliminating negative areas or reducing risk.
Choose a reasonable role. Perhaps consider being an investor or a silent partner. Either way, the development of the business is something you are a part of but you play a supportive role instead of an active one.
Set realistic expectations. Real money requires a real plan, goals, and results. Most businesses require some form of funding to make them a reality. No matter how much or how little you plan to invest, be clear that you want to see a plan of how the money will be spent, when the business will start to be profitable and perhaps even a growth plan or exit strategy should things not work as planned.
Be willing to negotiate. Any owner and investor relationship has times when negotiations are necessary. The business relationship you and your child form is no different. The ability to discuss issues and engage in reasonable compromise is a good useful quality to develop.
Think about the future. There may be multiple young people involved in the business. These could be friends of your child or even siblings. Keep in mind that if more than one person is involved, an agreement of sorts (often referred to as an operating agreement) should be discussed and agreed upon. This holds true especially when dollars are invested. Another reason to have the business set up properly is that should it meet a measurable level of success, doing things legally will make any future growth much easier.
Give it time to grow. Have patience. If there is a realistic plan or idea presented, have your child develop a reasonable timeline to go along with the agreed upon expectations.
The benefits of youth entrepreneurship and supporting your child’s efforts to start their own business can extend beyond the personal financial gain. When a child begins to earn their own money at an early age they learn both the value of a dollar and more about their own personal value as well as their contribution to the world we live in and the future we create together.