Nine out of ten parents want their kids to start a business.
Teens take plenty of risks — just not in business.
Nearly nine in ten parents (88%) are in favor of their kids starting a business, but less than one in three teens (30%) feel that same level of enthusiasm for entrepreneurship, according to research published in November by ORC International on behalf of Junior Achievement and Ernst & Young.
“For teens, the greatest concerns for starting a business include it being ‘too risky’ (31%) and ‘not enough money it in’ (22%),” the study authors wrote. “Only 16% of teens indicate they have no concerns about trying.”
Nevertheless, entrepreneurship is financially promising. The average annual salary for entrepreneurs in the United States is $171,610 — that’s $82.50 per hour. These numbers are markedly higher than the US national wage index for 2016, which stood at $48,665.
Plus, it comes with the “freedom to determine your own work schedule, your own life… The freedom, the flexibility, the possibility to express your own creativity and determine your own fate — that’s very special,” says Martin Ihrig, associate dean for programs in business at New York University’s School of Professional Studies.
Of course, “many people fail attempting to be an entrepreneur,” says Ihrig, who holds a Ph.D. in management with a specialization in entrepreneurship. Still, many parents likely hope to foster entrepreneurship in their teens. Here’s how.
Foster creativity: “Let creativity live and be alive and grow,” says Christie Miranne, daughter of Miracle Mop inventor Joy Mangano and executive vice president of product development at Mangano’s $3 billion company. Instilling in your kids the problem-solving skills to recognize an area that needs addressing, and then to be creative about generating a solution for it, is key to nurturing future entrepreneurs, experts say.
Today’s teens don’t want to be entrepreneurs. Here’s how parents can foster the self-starter spirit within them https://t.co/R9tQb22oTH
— Moneyish (@Moneyish) November 5, 2017
Find inspiring examples: Highlight high profile entrepreneurs — like, say, Richard Branson — to your teens, looking in particular at how they got started, Ihrig advises.
Encourage your kids to take the first step: “When you’re a young teenager and you’re sitting there with an idea or business, it’s just about taking that first step. It’s a learn-as-you-go situation,” says Miranne. Introducing your kids to valuable personal or business connections, “helping them think through their new venture idea, their product idea,” and asking questions about the problems they observe and the solutions they’re proposing are all valuable, Ihrig says.
Develop these personality traits: Mentoring a new generation of entrepreneurs will largely come down to equipping them with requisite personality traits, experts agree. “Perseverance, being a good salesperson, being open to opportunities with experimenting… are qualities [you use] every day as an entrepreneur,” Ihrig says.
Enrolling your kids in sports or music programs is one way to help them develop those qualities. But Ihrig proposes other, more informal methods, like garage sales, or encouraging your teens to help out in planning a charitable fundraiser, to flex their managerial muscles early. What’s more, “go to the flea market, talk to customers, negotiation and haggle,” he recommends, as a way to practice those skills, too.
Help them financially — if you can afford to: Knowing when and how to invest in your child’s ideas can be confusing. “I would give my child a small amount of money to test out a couple of assumptions,” Ihrig proposes. “If you told me that you wanted to sell T-shirts, [I would ask], have you thought about X-Y-Z? Now I’ll give you $100 to find this out; if you’re successful, then I’m going to give you $500… It’s different stages [than saying], ‘Oh, I need $2,000.'”
Arm them with experience in their desired field: Both Miranne and Ihrig agree that motivating your kids to search for internships can translate to great experience in the workplace, and helpful connections later on.
Don’t push too hard: Most importantly, teens should not overwhelm themselves with pressure. “It’s very natural to take on the weight of the world,” Miranne concludes. “You’re a teenager. You can do it in stride. You don’t want to lose out on being able to live your life at the same time.”
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