Teaching Your Kids Business?


Feb 11, 2006
by Jenny

I have had a couple of emails lately from parents, containing attitudes which I found a little worrying.

We support the teaching of business skills to kids, and we encourage parents to help their kids put those skills into practice by starting a business of their own. We support and encourage these activities because financial understanding is a vital life skill, and the standard education curriculum in most places doesn’t really cover money and business terribly well.

We are not providing support and encouragement for parents to use their kids as a get-rich-quick scheme, or because we expect all kids in the Cash-Smart Kids program to be making thousands per month within a year or two.

When I get questions from parents like “How soon will my son be making $2,000 per month if we follow your system?” and “How can I skip over all this theory and get my kids into a business making real money?” I get a sense that perhaps some parents have lost perspective.

Focus on teaching your child the skills, not on how fast the money will come in.

If your child only ever makes $20 per month from their business efforts, they will still be head-and-shoulders above the average kid their age in self-confidence, financial savvy, and employability.

Sure, kids like Ashley Qualls make a lot of money in business.

Business is like any other pursuit. Daniel Radcliffe makes a lot of money as a child actor, but there are hundreds of thousands of child actors who only make pocket money, and millions for whom acting is just a hobby.

The kids who don’t make much money from their acting still get all the life skills and benefits of the experience - the self-confidence, public speaking ability, the contacts, maturity, and “the show must go on” attitude.

Similarly, the kids who don’t make much money from a business in their teens or tweens still get all the life skills and benefits of the experience.

As far as I am concerned, those life skills and other benefits are the meat and potatoes - the profits are just gravy.

If you take your child into the business world and are constantly sniffing around for quick money, you will shoot yourself in the foot. Your child won’t have fun if they feel pressure from you to “perform”, and you will constantly have the impulse to shoulder them aside and do things that you can do “better”. You’ll likely have trouble mustering the patience to work through the lessons and explain the concepts to your child, so their learning will be less successful.

If you want money for the family, start a business yourself. Don’t pollute your child’s fun learning experience with anxious adult expectations.

Think about it this way - if you get this right, your child will be well-placed to pay for a very expensive retirement home for you. If you neglect your long-term investment in building your child’s skills and knowledge in favor of a “quick hit” of cash in the near future, you are probably killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.
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