5 Ways to Instill Entrepreneurial Values in Your Kids

Parents are always looking for innovative ways to nurture their kids into responsible, successful adults -- and in the age of startups, many of them are taking an entrepreneurial approach.
04/29/2016 06:18 pm ET Updated Apr 30, 2017
Teacher Explaining Something to Students
Teacher Explaining Something to Students

Parents are always looking for innovative ways to nurture their kids into responsible, successful adults -- and in the age of startups, many of them are taking an entrepreneurial approach.

There are many virtues to being an entrepreneur, after all. On a daily basis, you have to utilize creative and cognitive thinking to solve unique problems, exercise emotional intelligence to get the best out of your staff, and keep a strong work ethic to power through the highs and lows of the job - all worthy attributes to pass down to your children.

Entrepreneurial parents understand how critical it is to instill business values in their children, which will set them up for success in whatever they choose to do when they grow up. Take Jon Rush for example. Last year, this father of six founded of C7 Device Recycle -- an online platform that buys and sells refurbished cellular devices. Having been in the industry a long time, Jon knew what great service looks like and he created it. Because of this, his business took off much faster than he anticipated, leaving him scrambling to keep up.

Jon found himself in a common predicament for many startup founders: he couldn't commit to hiring an employee to help him just yet, but needed to keep up with the current business and grow to the next level. So he called upon his teenagers to help him with the business, teaching them trade secrets, customer service, and operational skills.

Through this experience, he found that integrating his parenting responsibilities with his efforts to grow his business not only afforded him more time with his family, but helped him draw real-life parallels to the lessons he wanted to impart to his kids. Below, he shares five key takeaways that have helped him raise the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders and succeeders.

5 Ways to Instill Entrepreneurial Values in Your Kids

1. Create a progression system to develop their natural talents. Children, much like adults, are motivated by incentives -- monetary or otherwise. When our six kids started asking for money to buy or do things, we offered ways for them to earn it that were appropriate for their skill level -- even if it was just household chores. Although this may seem like a "duh" moment for parents everywhere, the point is that this process was a natural transition for them to begin helping in our business. The key to involving them was finding tasks that were at their current skill level, and creating a progression system where they could learn to do more complex tasks (and get rewarded/compensated accordingly).

2. Empower them to embrace their personalities. Most of my children fall into specific entrepreneurial categories--some are skilled producers, most satisfied when they're creating something, and others have natural managerial tendencies, thriving on strategy development and task management. One thing they have in common is they all seem embody the risk taker personality, deriving pleasure from tackling difficult tasks and learning new things. We've empowered them to embrace this quality early on by teaching them how to start a business. They've even started their own lemonade business, and in the process they've learned about the cost of goods, advertising, providing value and how to successfully reinvest in their business.

3. Keep them focused on the importance of details. As we began to involve our children in C7 Device Recycle, we talked constantly about how the business works--from how much we pay for products versus the sales price, to the roles that overhead and skilled labor play. We also focused on teaching them importance that these details play in creating value for our customers, like how consistent labeling fits into the overall customer experience. This focus on detail management translated into our children taking pride in the work that do and in what they create.

4. Teach the value of efficiency at all times. Any business leader knows that lost time is lost revenue. Our kids have really shown an interest in this part of the business, and over time we've been able to show them how to minimize mistakes while creating more efficient processes. In fact, our children have played a huge role in finding new ways to improve what we do by actively brainstorming ideas with us. I've learned that kids have great perspectives and can see things that adults sometimes miss.

5. Lead the way, don't dictate the way. This has been the most important takeaway I've learned as both a parent and entrepreneur. The best results are achieved by inspiring, not dictating. Yes, we still have to provide stern direction sometimes, but I've found that the best results come from teaching with the overall vision in mind. Once your kids buy in, they won't need a lot of micromanagement. After all, if we model the behavior we expect of them, it's very likely they will follow in our footsteps.

C7 Device Recycle soon grew to the point where Jon could hire a staff, but he treasures the time that he spent working on the business with his kids. Great parents like Jon will help young minds realize their full potential by tapping into their uniqueness - and it's a good reminder to entrepreneurs of all ages to never stop growing!