How to Set Your Entrepreneurial Kids Up for Success

If your kid is interested in launching his or her own business, there are three ways you can provide the support he or she needs: Don't shy away from reality, be the right kind of helpful, and provide perspective.

August 22nd, 2017   |    By: Kenan Pala    |    Tags: Growth, Customers, Strategy

“Mom, I want to become an entrepreneur just like you.” How would these words make you feel? Or maybe you’ve already heard them. If so, how did you react? At first, you probably felt proud. Not only does your child look up to you, but he or she is also eager to learn about business at a young age. While typical kids are playing video games, yours is planning for the future — and that’s impressive.

But then, the nerves probably kicked in. What if, after pouring tons of time, effort, and emotion into building a company, things just don’t work out? The disappointment could be devastating to your child.

I was in fourth grade when I told my entrepreneurial parents that I, too, wanted to become an entrepreneur. First, they said, “Are you up for all the work and the potential setbacks you’ll have?” I responded, “Yes.” Thankfully, they’ve supported me along the way ever since.

My first company was called CaptionInk, and unfortunately, it never really took off.

I was very disappointed, but my parents saved the day by painting my first attempt at entrepreneurship as a learning experience. They told me to take a step back, assess what went wrong, and get ready to try again.

This left me feeling motivated — not discouraged.

Now, a few years later, I run two businesses: a nonprofit called Kids4Community and a clothing line for young triathletes called Kids Tri Hard.

Both of my parents play key roles in each venture. My dad serves on Kids4Community’s board of directors, where he provides me with tons of advice and guidance on our initiatives.

My mom is heavily involved with Kids Tri Hard. Most recently, she helped me find a great manufacturer for our triathlon suits — a company that’s located in our hometown of San Diego.

How Can Parents Set Your Entrepreneurial Kids Up for Success

I seriously would not be where I am today without my parents’ help. If your kid is interested in launching his or her own business, here are three tips that will help you provide the support your amazing entrepreneurial kids need:

Don’t shy away from reality.

Don’t be shy about describing how difficult entrepreneurship will be. Explain the insane amount of work your child will need to put in, and make sure he or she is emotionally prepared to have the first few attempts come up short.

This is exactly how my parents handled it. Although it scared me a little, it ultimately helped me bounce back from my setbacks and find success.

Be the right kind of helpful.

You’re probably going to feel tempted to help your child with everything. Resist the temptation. You have your own company to run, and this is a great opportunity for your kid to try new things, learn new skills, and take full ownership of a project.

Helping a little will show your child that you’re invested and that you care, but if you do too much, you’ll send the message that you think he or she isn’t smart enough to be an entrepreneur, which will feel discouraging.

Provide perspective.

When CaptionInk didn’t work out, my parents introduced me to this famous Thomas Edison quote: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

This really resonated with me. It helped me understand that I wasn’t failing; I was learning. It’s important for parents to deliver this message to their kids and teach them that there are lessons to be learned every time they struggle.

Also, it doesn’t hurt if you compare your child’s work to that of a world-renowned scientist. That felt motivating, too!

Overall, the greatest thing you can do for your ambitious child is provide love and support. A young entrepreneur will struggle to succeed without a little help from his or her parents.

About the Author

Kenan Pala

Kenan Pala is a guitarist, triathlete, trumpeter, traveler, poet, and martial arts enthusiast. At 13 years old, he’s juggling his education and his passions for music, entrepreneurship, and staying active. He enjoys going on business trips with his mother and exploring historic cities. Triathletes, as well as his entrepreneurial parents, inspire Kenan.

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