Mommy and Me: Ways to Involve Your Children in Your Business
This article was written by Jacob Pomeroy
The landscape of the family business has undergone some dramatic changes. Long gone is the era of that distinct image of American entrepreneurship. As painted by Norman Rockwell and printed on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post. With entrepreneurship in the United States now focused more on start-ups, tech, and innovation. Rather than on corner drug stores, filling stations, and soda fountains come to an evolved form of the old familial inquiry. How can I involve my children in my business?
Entrepreneurship as a Form of Education
American Express offers a few suggestions on how to better integrate your children with your entrepreneurial work life:
Right off the bat, share what you’re doing with them. Entrepreneurship is a form of education. As you pick up wisdom via experience so comes the opportunity to share your well-earned knowledge with your children. In addition, they recommend beginning teaching early. Creating an environment where you and your children can exchange ideas during routine together time such as driving to and from school or during dinnertime.
Another suggestion from American Express, a bit obvious, but admirably to the point, is to hire your children as employees. Yes, what a novel concept! Bringing them aboard to take ownership of a piece of the business, and having a more immediate personal stake provides them with valuable real-world experience. Also teaches them a lessons of accountability. In addition, receiving a paycheck gives them the freedom to pursue their own goals and make their own investments outside of the family business.
Valuable Life Lessons Beyond the Business
On the subject of your children perhaps eventually pursuing their own interests, BPlans provides some useful information on the subject:
It might seem obvious, but many parents enjoy having the people they’ve raised become involved with them in their business ventures. After all, what a great opportunity to teach your children valuable life lessons and responsibilities! However, as we all learn for ourselves during the course of our formative years, people don’t always find what works best for themselves right away. How can you find what makes you passionate when pushed into a corner?
Spoiler alert: coercing someone (especially a loved one) into a particular career trajectory is not an effective means of instilling work-related happiness.
Therefore, while involving your children in your business is a terrific means of teaching valuable life skills, and perhaps preparing them for their own career, it should not be pressed on them as the only option. While this alternative should be present, they need the breathing room to pursue their own goals, whatever they may be. As BPlans puts it – “Let them work with who they want, on what they want, and eventually they’ll end up in a good place.”
More Meaningful Collaboration
Melitta Campbell, a “mompreneur” and freelance corporate writer provides, on her website, the additional suggestion of involving your children in your business via customer service. By her own admission, it was a bit of a risk, but one that paid off. Children can bring outside-the-box thinking to client care, such as complimentary chocolates (oh, those kids…). This also creates the opportunity of collaborating with your children in a potentially deeper and more meaningful way. And giving them a greater feeling of involvement and accomplishment.
With a multitude of options on how to better involve your children in your business, the methods you choose will naturally be a reflection of your own business model. But will also stem from your parenting framework. This provides great opportunities for your children to grow and nurture their interests on the path toward maturity and financial responsibility. It also allows you to bond and creates a potentially stronger, more communicative relationship with your children.