How to parent your young entrepreneur without killing their dreams.
How do we ensure their business idea is realistic without destroying their excitement and passion?
When your child says they want to start their own business where does your mind go? Do you think about the work that would entail? Often leaping to how much work it’s going to be for you? Do you start planning for the logistics it will involve right through to mass manufacturing and the cost of advertising? Do you listen to their great idea and think it’s not going to make any money?
That’s a pretty common reaction. We as parents are the safety net. Of course, it’s our very job to ensure our children are guided and supported, but ultimately, we want them safe. To this I will add happy.
But what if certain situations warrant a more cheerleader roll?
What if our compunction to protect is hindering, or even destroying our child’s chances for success?
So, when I’m asked how to keep them realistic while supporting their passions to start their new business and launch their great idea, I say don’t be realistic.
Don’t curb their enthusiasm.
Don’t be cautious.
Instead try being their very first raving fan.
Even if you think their idea is ridiculous or won’t make money or is logistically insane.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t question to get a better handle on their vision but question with an inquisitive flare where you sound curious and engaged. They will come to the necessary conclusions on their own through inquiry. You don’t have to provide the what ifs.
Sara Blakley, creator of Spanx, notes that she didn’t tell her close family and friends what she was working on. Once she had proven her idea, she finally let them in on it. And like all good parents they immediately offered well meaning objections why it wouldn’t work and all the risks. She explains that if she were to have heard those objections earlier in her journey, she would have likely abandoned the idea. Sara now has a billion-dollar company.
When Blakely first began exploring the idea for footless pantyhose, she didn’t tell many people. “Ideas are the most vulnerable in their infancy,” she says. But those she did tell were generally not enthusiastic. She heard from several: “If it’s such a good idea, why hasn’t anyone else thought of it?”
The doubters do you no good.
But, obviously, children starting a business need to share and get your support.
When we add our pragmatic adult point of view, we rob them of an important process; the figure-it-out-for-myself process.
This process attaches them emotionally and intellectually to the outcome. Why? Because they want it to be successful. They have plans for that money. Interestingly the money becomes secondary in the long run but it’s something they can see as a tangible outcome they personally benefit from. It isn’t a gold star or a medal, it’s tangible and empowering. It’s something they created that someone else wants.
This is an opportunity to share in the wild imagination of your child and learn to lead from behind. You don’t have to be realistic; the real world will cover that.