Bryan Binkholder Discusses Raising Your Kids to be Entrepreneurs
I thoroughly believe in taking advantage of education. It’s important to encourage your children from an early age to study, to try their best in school, to challenge themselves with interesting classes and to take part in extra-curricular activities if that’s where their interests lie. But, the school system (whether public or private) is not in charge of everything. I see so many parents who rely on teachers and the school system for absolutely everything, –and that’s a problem, especially if you want your child to be able to break free from the “mediocrity” of today’s society.
I spent many years in education before I entered the financial field and there are some things that are still not generally taught in school. One of them is how to handle your finances. I believe every high school student should graduate with a full working knowledge of credit, mortgages, checking accounts, and budgeting.
The other topic is entrepreneurship. For the most part, our children are led down a predictable path, which involves elementary school, middle school, high school, college, and then a career. We’re teaching kids to “go work for corporations” but who’s starting these companies? We need more starters, more leaders, more entrepreneurs.
So, how do you encourage your children to adopt the entrepreneurial mindset? How do you get the ball rolling?
A Different Perspective
The way you handle topics and situation has a lot to do with your overall perspective. I like to call it, “What you see is what you get.” This simply means, the way you view a situation will determine the outcome of it. Here are some prime examples:
Handling Perceived Rejection: How does your family handle rejection and failure? The way you teach your children to handle this one part of life can make them or break them in so many areas of life. Entrepreneurship involves taking a risk. Taking a risk involves the possibility of failure. So, what if they fail? Then what? If your child fears failure and feels that it’s unacceptable, they may never be able to move past it when they do.
Failure is a part of life. We don’t always win and we can’t succeed at everything. One of Forbes recent additions to the Billionaire’s List is Sara Blakely, creator of Spanx, a type of ladies clothing. The thing that really impressed me about her story went beyond her invention. It was the way she pursued her invention. Once she had her idea and a business plan (how it would be produced and marketed, etc), she got to work knocking on the doors of companies who would pick up the idea.
Of course, this was no easy task and she had to face rejection quite a few times before things started rolling. In her interview, she told Forbes that one of the most important influences in her life was her father. Growing up, her family ate dinner together every night, and every day her father would ask her and her siblings the same question, “What did you fail at today?” If they had a story, –maybe one of them tried out for cheerleading and didn’t make it, or didn’t get the part time job they applied for. Whatever it was, if they failed at something they would share the story and then their dad would give them a high-five and say, “Great job trying!”
Does this sound backwards? Of course it does, especially in our society where the pressure for perfection is so ridiculous that teenage girls are starving themselves to reach a certain weight and guys are taking steroids to perform better in sports. Her father’s congratulations and approval for failing sent a very strong message. Failure isn’t fatal! In fact, it’s a part of life! You don’t have to be absolutely perfect, and if you fail, simply try again!
A friend of mine was discussing entrepreneurship a while back. The discussion was memorable because this particular person is the manager of the business he works for. He’s been in the same industry for over 20 years and he has worked in almost every position imaginable. Bottom line, –he knows the business, he knows the suppliers, he understands the profit end of it, and he knows how to fill every role in the company. One day, he was particularly discouraged with his job. He had reached the “ceiling” so there really isn’t anywhere for him to go if he wants to increase his income. That’s when I asked him about opening his own business. “You know the industry like the back of your hand. You could do your job in your sleep and you’d certainly qualify for a loan if you needed one,” I explained. His answer was simple, “No, Bryan. I would never do that. My dad had a dream of running his own business. He opened it and then closed the doors within the first year. It’s too risky. The job I have is a sure thing.”
Of course, I didn’t let it go at that. I went on to discuss the fact that he can’t let his father’s failure stop him from pursuing his dreams, –but my point here is the fact that two generations stopped short of pursuing their dreams, all because of one failure. Take the same scenario and put it with the Blakely family and there’d be a big high-five and they’d move on!
All of our children have gifts and talents and it’s important to recognize them so they can be nurtured. Again, this is a matter of perspective:
Daydreamers – Thomas Edison was reprimanded repeatedly in school for daydreaming. His teachers said he would just stare off in space and lose track of what the teacher was saying. Robert Frost was dropped from school for daydreaming.
Daydreaming is often a sign of what we label as A.D.D. The attention deficit disorder brain has the ability to “check-out” when it is not receiving proper stimulation and it moves on to think about more interesting things, such as inventions in Thomas Edison’s case and composing poetry in Robert Frost’s.
Hyperactive- In a 1986 study, students who scored in the top third on a test for a high level of creativity were found to be significantly more hyperactive than those who scored in the bottom third on the creativity test. They were found to have a “surplus of energy,” as expressed by rapid speech, restlessness, fast games and sports, marked enthusiasm, delinquent behavior, impulsive actions, and nervous habits.
Have you ever met a highly successful person who seems to be “wired for sound” all the time? You find yourself wondering if they’ve just had too much caffeine or if they’re always like this. Brandon Burchard is the perfect example of this type of person. He is the author of The Millionaire Messenger and The Charge. He is also an engaging public speaker and is full of excellent ideas and tutorials that teach people how to recognize and pursue their true destiny.
Different Learning Styles – Again, Thomas Edison is a prime example. In the book, Inventing the Century by Neil Baldwin, there are numerous stories about Edison’s youthful curiosity. His persistent desire to discover phenomena or validate his theories through direct experience led him to be attacked by an angry ram and to a neighborhood girl to drink a concoction made with worm mash (he was convinced birds could fly because they ate worms).
If your child learns by “doing” or through experiments, don’t squash their curiosity by telling them that they’re doing it wrong. Of course, feeding worms to the neighbor may get them in trouble but it’s important to always recognize the good (the gift) in your child’s behavior.
Stubborn – Is your child remarkably stubborn? Does he or she seem to challenge you at every turn? James Dobson wrote a wonderful book called The Strong Willed Child where he discusses the fact that every quality that seems “bad” has an equal pendulum swing in the opposite direction. The stubborn, strong willed child who won’t follow the others is a blessing in disguise. These are the traits of a leader! All you have to do as a parent is channel these qualities in the right direction.
Teaching our children about the possibility of entrepreneurship is probably one of the best gifts you can give them. Allowing your child to capitalize on their strengths and embrace the idea of independence and free enterprise opens the door to so many opportunities. Contrary to what it may seem like, there really aren’t two types of people, entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs. The idea is just not offered to every child, and it may not be something they consider until much later on in life. It’s up to us as parents to nurture the dreams of our children, even if we don’t share them!
I have always found it ironic that parents hire tutors to help children improve their areas of weakness, but often ignore their areas of strength. If you only work on weaknesses, then you have a child who is just average in everything (and that’s often what we are producing).
Make the decision to give your child options. Recognize their strengths and develop them. Allow them to dream uninhibited without criticism. If they have a dream or an idea that sounds crazy to you, let them have it instead of trying to “corral them” into mainstream thinking. At some point, the Wright brothers probably told their parents they believed they could build a flying machine. Can you imagine hearing a “tall tale” like that from your children? In today’s age of technology and advanced knowledge, anything is possible!
Give Them A Lesson in Business
It’s still summer and this is the perfect time to start a small business with your children. My family has a small side business and everyone has a part. This gives me the ability to teach them about overhead, profit and loss, how much goes back into the business, and so much more. Help your child turn dreaming into doing. You’ll be giving them encouragement that will last a lfietime!
Side Note: If you want the answer to today’s entitlement issues and an entire generations living off “the system” it’s free enterprise. Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, teach him to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime!
Bryan Binkholder, The Financial Coach, is an author, radio show host, advisor, motivational speaker, and catalyst for change in the financial services industry. Bryan is best known for exposing the inner workings of Wall Street and bringing clarity to common investment misconceptions. Be sure to take advantage of his two most popular resources: 7 Deadly Traps of Investing and The Six Pitfalls of Retirement Planning and continue to follow his blog.