In many ways, growing is business is akin to raising a child—you create it, feed it, nurture it and guide it as best you can so that over time, it becomes the success you knew it could be. For entrepreneurial parents, the struggles—and rewards—of business operation yield significant opportunities to teach their offspring not only how to lead, but how to succeed.
As the father of six and founder and CEO of C7 Device Recycle—an online platform that buys and sells refurbished devices—I found that integrating my parenting responsibilities with my efforts to grow my business not only afforded me more time with my family, but helped me draw real-life parallels to the lessons I wanted to impart to my kids. Here are five key takeaways that have helped me raise the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders and succeeders.
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.
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