*Today’s post is a guest post from Erin Shanendoah over at The Dog Ate My Wallet. I have followed her work for several months now, and I really admire the direction she is going with her blog. She takes a “no excuses” approach to personal finance, and even goes so far as detailing her weekly expenses in her Sunday Evening expenses reports. This guest post is part of the blog swap series hosted by Yakezie!
The topic for today’s blog swap is How to raise a millionaire – developing your child’s entrepreneurial aptitude. This might seem a bit of a challenge for me to write about as I do not have children. However, I do know lots of people with kids, and I can tell you right now, with high certainty, which ones will be truly successful because of how I see their parents encourage them.
And let’s start with that very basic tenet of parenthood- encourage your child to try new things, to take risks, and then, when they find something they are good at and love, keep encouraging them.
The Case of the Artist
I hope to have a new logo for The Dog Ate My Wallet in the next month or so. That logo will be designed by a 12 year old. She is the daughter of friends and an amazing young artist. I have no doubt that she will be one of the artists who is actually able to make a good living out of it- and not because I’m commissioning a piece from her.
Her parents have encouraged her art from the beginning. They can afford it, so she gets to go to special art classes. When she showed interest in graphic arts (both of her parents work in the video game industry, so this is not a surprise), they made sure she had access to great graphic art programs.
In fact, her parents have their own iPhone game company. And they have told their daughter that if she wants to create art for a game, they will make a game to go with her art. It does not matter if it is a game that will make them money or not. If she wants to do the art, they will make the game. They want her to have professional art credits by the time she graduates high school. (At this point, she might have one before she gets to high school.)
In addition, her parents make use of their contacts to help her get opportunities. Here in the Seattle area, we have Digipen University, a private school dedicated to making games. They have courses in programming and art. And they offer summer programs to kids. Her parents, by virtue of knowing a number of the teachers at Digipen, and guest lecturing there on occasion, are able to make sure she has access to those programs.
Contrast this with a number of adult artists I know- struggling artists who, despite their talent, have to find a way to make ends meet that does not involve their art. In most cases, this is because their parents may have told them they were talented artists, but they also told them that you can’t make a living as an artist. You have to do something else.
But That’s a Special Case
I will admit that the young artist I know has a lot of things going for her. Not everyone has parents who are entrepreneurs themselves, or who are both some of the top names in their industry. Not everyone has the money or the connections these two do to help their child. And that’s true. But that doesn’t mean that “normal” parents cannot help their children become millionaires.
Being willing to support your child as they take risks, but also willing to let them fall on their faces, is a skill any parent can develop. Networking with people to find advantages for your child is a skill any parent can develop- even if it’s just calling the local Y or United Way to see what programs they offer.
The Case of my Brother
My brother is no longer a child. In fact, he’s less than two years away from 40 (but don’t remind him of that). Still, he is our parents’ child, and he is now starting on an entrepreneurial adventure. And honestly, our parents are having an easier time supporting him in this than I am. (And I’m even the younger sibling.)
We have all served as a sounding board for my brother’s new business plan. We all listen, we all ask questions, and in the end, we all place our fears for him aside to support him in the decision he is making. He is taking a risk, but a calculated one, leaving a lucrative skilled position to get into a business he knows nothing about.
He is not necessarily looking to become a millionaire, but he is looking for something that will become a big enough passive income to pay the bills while he pursues his passions.
Believing in Your Child
That’s actually kind of hard, or at least believing in my brother, as much as I love him and know how smart he is and what he is honestly capable of, is hard for me. He’s taking a major risk, and I see the down side. I see all the mistakes and miscalculations he has made before and am afraid he’ll repeat them. Our parents, even our step-mother, see the lessons he’s learned and think he’s making a pretty smart decision.
They believe in him. I do, too. But it’s not easy.
The tools to helping your child succeed are basic parenting skills- encourage your child, to the best of your ability, give your child the tools and connections needed to succeed, then, step back, let them take the risks, let them succeed or fail on their own. But regardless of the outcome, never stop believing.
These are basic parenting skills, but it doesn’t mean they are easy.