Starting a business can be an exciting and rewarding experience for children but, as a parent, it’s important to find the right balance between being involved and allowing your child to take ownership of their venture.

Self-sufficiency is a vital life skill we all want for our children. This is especially pertinent when talking about entrepreneurship. If your child has started or is planning on starting a business, your gut instinct may be to always step in to help, to make sure that they never make a mistake. But there is value in stepping back, in letting your child grow as a person and a future entrepreneur.

How do you know when to step in? First, let’s show you when not to step in.

First of all, don’t interrupt in the middle of a plan. If your child has a business idea, listen to them explain their thought process fully before offering any suggestions. Not only does this let your child know that you value their choices, but it gives both of you room to explore and develop ideas together. Interrupting a child in the middle of their thoughts can shut down their creativity and lead them to simply follow along with whatever you are suggesting instead.

Secondly, don’t step in just because you want them to be more careful. Now, if your child’s business idea is potentially hazardous or legally questionable, then by all means step in and fix things. But if you are simply worried about your child not doing well in a meeting or a public speaking gig, guide them and trust them instead of taking the pressure off them completely by doing it for them. If you want your child to have the confidence to one day run their own business fully, then you need to trust them to handle things personally.

And of course there are things that children who start their own business simply cannot do before they turn 18. They can’t take out loans or mortgages, and there are certain contracts that they are legally prevented from signing. Check on your local state laws to see more specifics.

With those caveats, when you do feel it is appropriate to step in, here are some tips for navigating your role as a parent in your child’s business:

  1. Start with a conversation: Before your child starts their business, have an open and honest conversation with them about your role and expectations. Discuss the level of involvement you plan to have and what your child wants from you as a parent. This can help to establish clear boundaries and expectations from the outset.
  2. Encourage independence: It’s important to allow your child to take ownership of their business and make decisions on their own. Encourage your child to take the lead and provide guidance and support when needed, but avoid micromanaging or taking over.
  3. Set clear boundaries: While it’s important to support your child, it’s also important to set clear boundaries and expectations around your level of involvement. Make it clear to your child that they are responsible for the day-to-day operations of their business, but that you are available to provide guidance and support as needed.
  4. Know when to step in: There may be times when you need to step in and take a more active role in your child’s business, such as when there are legal or financial issues to address. However, it’s important to approach these situations with care and to involve your child in the decision-making process as much as possible.
  5. Celebrate successes: Starting a business can be a challenging and rewarding experience for children. Celebrate your child’s successes and achievements along the way, and use these opportunities to reinforce the importance of hard work, perseverance, and goal-setting.

Ultimately, the level of involvement you have in your child’s business will depend on your child’s age, level of experience, and individual needs. By establishing clear boundaries, encouraging independence, and providing guidance and support when needed, you can help your child to navigate the world of entrepreneurship and develop valuable skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash