Dec. 20, 2018
As an entrepreneur, one of the best things you can do is introduce your kids to your business.
Getting your children involved in your business will have benefits beyond giving you something to share or simply allowing you to see more of each other. It can help them develop an entrepreneurial mindset like yours, which will prepare them for the future of work.
While your kids might not aspire to start a new business themselves, with the rapid changes happening across every industry, thinking like an entrepreneur is likely to increase their chances of success no matter what profession they choose.
If you have teenagers, they can reap financial benefits by actually working for you. As long as they’re performing legitimate work for your business, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act means your kids will not owe federal taxes on the first $12,000 they make. This is a great opportunity to educate your children on finances by having them contribute money to a college fund or -- for the particularly far-sighted -- set aside some of their wages in a retirement plan.
Even if you don’t hire your kids, you can still involve them in your work life in a number of ways, some more extensive than others. No matter what route you choose, it will be well worth the effort. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.
1. Talk about what you do -- a lot.
You expect your children to talk about their school day at the dinner table, and you should talk about your workday. It’s good for kids to know where the money comes from and understand what it takes to support a family. And you can show them what passion looks like and the rewards of working hard. Talking about the work you do can encourage an entrepreneurial mindset and a strong work ethic in your kids.
If you want proof of this approach’s impact, just talk to current entrepreneurs about their parents and their upbringing. Take Mark Josephson, CEO of link management platform Bitly, who grew up with two entrepreneur parents. He says that one piece of advice from his father has stuck with him since childhood: “It doesn’t matter who signs your checks; you work for yourself.” Hearing this helped instill an entrepreneurial mindset in Josephson. If you speak with passion about your work, you can instill this same attitude in your own children.
2. Make any day Bring Your Child to Work Day.
Bringing your children to your workplace has myriad benefits, from strengthening your relationship to inspiring them to think about their future career. In an excerpt from his book, “How to Raise a Founder with Heart,” Jim Marggraff, a serial entrepreneur and inventor of the LeapPad, discusses bringing his son to work. “Whenever I could, I invited Blake to see different aspects of the business,” Marggraff says, noting that his son visited QVC with him and even attended a business meeting. “These were incredible learning and bonding experiences, and I encourage you to seek as many opportunities as possible to share your work with your children.”
While it’s beneficial to bring your kids to work with you, it’s important to avoid disrupting the office workflow. Before you bring your children to your office, talk with the members of your team about what they can expect. Assure them that the kids won’t interfere with their work, and let them know you are still available to handle your normal responsibilities.
3. Let them help out with the grunt work.
Every office has menial tasks that no one likes to do. If your kids are old enough, pass it off to them. Allow them to staple papers, clean conference tables, or stamp envelopes. Kids love to help, and allowing them to be actively involved will only increase their interest in the business. By having them lend a hand with something, even if it’s a small task, they’ll feel truly involved in your business, a place where you spend so much of your day.
As they get older, you can use this time together to teach them about prioritizing tasks. Depending on the type of job you do and the confidentiality required, you could even give your child a more complex task -- one that’s not obviously busywork -- when they’re old enough to handle it. For instance, Laureen Miles Brunelli, a work-at-home mom, found ways for her kids to assist with her freelance writing business, allowing her son to read content to identify errors or enter information into spreadsheets.
Ask your kids how they would like to help. If it’s something they can’t do yet -- you probably wouldn’t want them pitching clients, say -- figure out how to teach them those skills in other ways. Showing an interest and aptitude for business is one of the many good things you want for your kids.