If you’re looking for a way to incorporate some entrepreneurship lessons into your family’s allowance system, you’re in luck. There are lots of ways to do this! But first, you have to be willing to forget about the status quo and try some new approaches. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
A Genius Idea
A while back, I read a story in Time magazine about a mother by the name of Shaketha McGregor and her approach to allowance. It struck me as pure genius. She made a list of domestic jobs and hosted a "job fair" in a common area of the house. Any child who wanted an allowance had to “apply” for one of the domestic jobs. This included an interview with mom in which they had to convince her that they had the skills to do the job well. Then she made a hiring decision.
Ok, I know what you’re thinking. None of that really sounds like entrepreneurship. And you’re right. It’s not 100% entrepreneurship, but it does include a crucial entrepreneurial skill: sales. This mother was teaching her kids how to sell . . . themselves! They had to convince her that they were the solution to her problem. If they made a good case, she’d buy their services. If not, they’d be short on cash until they figured out how to be more convincing.
A Twist Ending
In addition to selling themselves, Shaketha's kids also learned how to attach a value to a product or service. How? Salary negotiation!
Instead of telling your child how much the solution to a household problem is worth, let them wrestle with how much their time is worth and how valuable the solution that they’re offering is. And then, let them make you an offer. Make sure you’re prepared with your counter-offer!
Go A Little Deeper
When they’re ready, you can help your child gain a deeper understanding of what it means to start a business by getting rid of the list of domestic jobs altogether. Now, the challenge is to look around, pay attention and find problems in the household that need to be solved. Younger kids may need a little help figuring out what that means, so have one or two examples on hand.
Be ready to explain a problem. For example, you’d like to have healthier meals at home, but the adults in the house work late on weekdays and often order out instead of cooking. Then talk about potential solutions that your child could provide. Your child could be your sous chef and prepare all of the ingredients for a home-cooked meal. That way part of meal preparation is done before the adults are ready to start cooking. If they’re old enough, maybe your child could cook the whole meal.
Also remind them that they don’t necessarily have to cook to offer a solution. Maybe they can do research online to find the healthiest take-out restaurants in your area and create a family database for reference. That way if you have to order out, at least it’s a healthier option.
Entrepreneurship is rooted in noticing problems that exist in our communities and crafting smart solutions that provide value. One of the communities that your child knows best is home, so let them start practicing this skill right there. And remind them to be creative when solving problems. Encourage them to think about all of the possibilities because there are lots of ways to solve any problem and sometimes our first idea isn’t our best idea.
Don’t Stop There
Once kids understand how to spot a problem, create a solution and sell the solution to someone who needs it, they’ve got the basic skills for entrepreneurial success. Now it’s time to unleash them on the world! If your child is really motivated to be an entrepreneur, it won’t take long for them to realize that there are problems EVERYWHERE.
Encourage them to always be on the lookout for these business opportunities. Even if they don’t act on them, it’s a great habit to develop. Talk about which opportunities seem more promising and why. When they finally come across an opportunity that they’re truly passionate about, let them go for it! Because there’s no better way to learn even more about being an entrepreneur than by becoming one.
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