The more your children understand how business works, the more comfortable they’ll be as they enter the workforce later in life, whether they're entrepreneurs or working for someone else.
Many of the lessons you provide will come via example. Kids might see you staying up late to finish a project or dealing with a difficult person at work. They'll understand that hard work and diplomacy are keys to success.
Another effective way to teach kids about business is to have them experience it themselves. Here are some ways to do that.
Bring kids to work
Bringing kids to work doesn’t have to occur on the official “take your kids to work” day, when many offices have activities planned for kids. These days can be a lot of fun, but the experience isn’t always authentic in terms of what happens in the workplace.
Consider bringing them in on a school holiday when there’s nothing special planned, or on the weekend, depending on your business.
You can talk to your kids about what you’re doing so they understand the various components of what your job entails. Depending on their ages and abilities you can put them to work making copies, filing documents, shredding documents or even setting up or completing non-sensitive spreadsheets on your computer.
Entrepreneurship for kids
Another way for your kids to learn is by doing things themselves. For some kids, that means creating their own business or selling their services or products.
Here are some business project ideas kids may like and want to do:
- Lawn mowing
- Snow plowing or shoveling
- Dog walking or house sitting
- Gift wrapping
- Being a party assistant
- Selling homemade crafts
- Running a lemonade stand
Some of these can be short-term projects, while others can continue for years. Regardless, kids can learn a lot of lessons about professionalism, including punctuality, attention to detail and strong customer service.
Here are some skills they can learn with your guidance.
Marketing: Letting people know about your business should be more than just word of mouth. Your children can create inexpensive but professional-looking business cards on the computer and home printer or through a printing service. They can hang flyers advertising their business at the local stores and hand them out in the neighborhood.
Websites are easy to create, and there are many free ways to host and create a website online. The kids can create social media accounts for their businesses as well to do online marketing.
Customer service: A good lesson when teaching kids business is how to treat customers. Solving problems and helping customers feel good about the purchase or service is vital to a continued relationship. Kids can learn that sending a nicely wrapped package for a customer order makes a difference, or that doing a little extra edgework when a client isn’t happy with the lawn-mowing job can go a long way toward having a satisfied customer and being proud of the job they’re doing.
Planning: Part of teaching kids business is the planning process. To book babysitting clients, your child needs a calendar. If your child doesn't write down other babysitting gigs or school obligations, it's possible to double book, which is a planning problem as well as a customer service problem. Help your child troubleshoot what can go wrong and create systems to prevent problems before they happen.
Business plan: If your child has a business idea, encourage him or her to think through all the details, even creating a short business plan. That might include determining how much a product will cost and how much they can charge. Determining a need for that product or service is helpful, too. If a child enjoys making bookmarks and there are several book clubs or libraries in your area, it may be a winning business idea.
While it may be too early to teach your kids about business insurance, it's something worth discussing in easy-to-understand terms. If a baked item is contaminated or the package sent across the country doesn't make it there, the seller can be liable. Discuss these types of situations and the importance of business insurance after they get up and running.