An overwhelming majority of today’s employed millenials would like to start their own businesses, according to a recent poll, but many aren’t sure where to begin. Inspiring the next generation’s Sara Blakely (founder of Spanx), perhaps, or Pete Cashmore (founder of Mashable), however, isn’t as daunting as it may sound.
Our company is committed to helping grow small businesses in America, and through our national philanthropic initiative, Communities with HART, we work with groups like Junior Achievement USA to help today’s small businesses grow while also inspiring a new generation of entrepreneurs. The experience has taught us some important lessons about working with children and preparing them for the business world.
Here are a few of our favorite tips for parents to help inspire future entrepreneurs.
Don’t wait until your teens are applying for their first jobs to teach them important life skills. Learning and refining both the hard and soft skills needed to run a company can start long before your child receives their diploma. Help your son or daughter get ahead of the competition by working with them to:
• Develop good listening and communication skills: A successful business owner must have the ability to listen to his or her team and clearly communicate their ideas.
• Build up their confidence: Confidence is a prerequisite to launching and operating your own business. Build your child’s confidence in simple ways like celebrating when he or she aces a math test or reaches a personal goal.
• Become better money managers: Teach your children good financial practices at an early age by teaching them how to budget money and spend wisely. Take your teachings a step further by helping them open a bank account and save their allowance, or create a savings plan for an item they want to purchase.
2.Follow their passion
Rather than dismiss Generation Z as too preoccupied with technology, take the time to get to know your child and their unique interests. You’ll likely discover that their interests span far beyond selfies and Instagram. According to a survey conducted by recruitment agency Intern Sushi, more than 75 percent of Generation Z would like to turn their hobby into a full-time job.
Maybe your daughter passionate about sports. Does your son love helping out in the kitchen? With some motivation and the right tools, your child could turn a hobby into a potential business idea.
3.Encourage them to branch out
Extracurricular activities teach valuable skills like leadership, personal accountability, and effective collaboration. A successful entrepreneur isn’t afraid to roll up his or her sleeves, take a risk and try something new.
4.Find a mentor
What better way for your teen to learn about starting their own business than through mentorship from a local business leader? There are a number of programs available across the country to help children and teens explore entrepreneurship and learn the ins and outs of running their own business.
For instance, we have partnered with Junior Achievement USA to help reimagine their JA Company Program – an interactive and innovative entrepreneurship program that links high school students with mentors and provides them with the tools needed to create and operate an actual business. JA alums include Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Kim Kaupe, cofounder of the Wall Street Journal’s 2013 Startup of the Year ZinePak.
So, whether it’s taking a more active role in your teen’s extracurricular activities or taking advantage of a community entrepreneurship experience, it’s never too soon for you – and your child – to start thinking about his or her future and the promise of entrepreneurship. Some of the country’s most successful business owners got their start by mowing lawns or making jewelry long before they graduate high school.
You never know if your son’s quirky talent or daughter’s unique passion just might turn into the next billion-dollar business venture.
Diane Cantello is vice president of corporate social responsibility at The Hartford.