Zachary and Megan were 8 years old when they first said they wanted to earn money. Nicholas was 10. Gabrielle is 12 and has absolutely no interest in working anywhere, for anyone.
Children are different from the day they’re born. It doesn’t matter if they’re twins raised in the same home, or siblings born 15 years apart. Each child has a different attitude and different perspective based on their unique personality and experiences. My children are not different. Zachary and Megan (twins) begged long and hard enough that they got a paper route at the age of 9.
Every Wednesday they wrapped the community paper, delivered it to homes in a neighborhood 10 minutes from ours and collected the fee once a month. It took them only a couple of months to realize that they could get through the collections faster if they split up and got more tips when they brought their cute little brother along. Cherub-cheeked Nicholas tagged along from home to home, holding his siblings’ hand and smiling sweetly at everyone who answered their doors.
I followed closely behind in the car as they trekked down the street. In the winter they came in the car to warm up between houses and in the summer they ran from house to house. Never once did they think about quitting. Each month they were paid about $20.00 a piece for their effort and they started saving. They learned about savings accounts, how to manage their money and how much effort it took to make a couple dollars.
At the age of 10, Nicholas wanted to find other types of work, so he and I researched, brainstormed and talked with relatives about what he could do. From that effort came the book you’ll find in “Check It Out!” below.
What’s the Benefit?
During those years when they were working and watching their mother run her own business, they learned several very good lessons. These were lessons they couldn’t have learned in school, by someone else telling them or through reading a book. They were lessons that they will keep for the rest of their lives, that they can generalize to other situations and for which they have been grateful.
After the newspaper route which Nicholas took over when he was 11, sprang a lawn mowing business for my son, Zachary, and teaching piano lessons for my daughter, Megan. Nicholas branched out and began collecting aluminum cans from the neighbors and turning them in, earning another $20.00 a month. My now-24-year-old daughter continues to tutor children in math and Spanish, and my boys have always had a job and paid their own expenses.
Here are the seven benefits my children have experienced from starting and maintaining their own businesses.
1.They learned to do things outside their comfort zone. If it feels uncomfortable to us, as adults, it most certainly is uncomfortable for children. However, in order to grow and mature we have to step outside our comfort zone and do things, whether we’re comfortable doing them or not.
And, truth be told, the more we stay in a zone that is not comfortable, the faster we grow personally. Because your children are learning this at a young age, they have a greater potential for growth and personal success as they grow. Megan and Zachary learned how to ask for the sale, approach new people and became comfortable talking about what they did and why.
2. They learned new skills. Building any kind of business means that you’ll need to learn a bit of marketing, selling, and producing whatever it is that you’re selling. I have a good friend who makes beautiful jewelry and crocheted hats and scarves. She’s very successful selling them on Etsy and her own website. Although retired, she earns enough to cover most of the utility bills on her home. She’s doing something she loves and is proud to show to others. She learned this skill AFTER she retired!
Your children can learn to think outside the box to find new customers, how to connect with other businesses and develop partnerships to increase their sales and the sales of their partners. They may learn how to create new products, how to market using social media or sell their services face to face. It won’t matter WHAT they learn, only that they are learning new skills which they can use for the rest of their lives.
3. They became comfortable talking with strangers, talking over the phone and making connections. Although I mentioned these skills in #2 above, these are some of the more important skills that they can take with them as they go to college and enter the workplace. Strong businesses are built on making connections with others – and those connections are made in person, over the phone and by connecting over social media. Although most kids are a whiz at social media, they lack the skills needed for in-person communication because they don’t practice them. Most of our children live on their digital devices and they prefer it that way.
When we were growing up, if you wanted to play with someone you called or dropped by their home. Today, kids meet on games online, chat for a few minutes over Skype or text each other. The interaction you get through in-person communication is lost, but essential to being successful after graduation.
4. They learned the value of money. Before starting their first job, the twins would ask for a toy, gift or money to buy something without consideration of how long it might have taken to make that amount of money. But, after getting their first paychecks, they had a new found appreciation for the value of the dollar.
Granted, they would love mom to buy things for them instead of spending their own money; but even when spending mine, the twins are very aware of how much was being spent and whether or not they could get something similar at a better price.
5. They learned how to set goals. Nicholas is a great one for setting goals. He learned how to set a goal for how many people he could collect from each month. Knowing how to set goals, and developing a plan to achieve them has helped him finish all his college applications early, while studying for the ACT, maintaining straight A’s in school, playing on a very competitive basketball team and learning how to mix sound for a band.
Goal setting, developing a plan and execution is something we all need to experience any kind of success.
6. They experienced a self-confidence boost. The benefit of setting goals, developing plans and achieving success is that my children experienced a huge boost to their self-confidence. That translated into my son graduating from college, my daughter moving to another state by herself and successfully balancing work and full-time college and my younger son balancing a schedule that I wouldn’t want to attempt.
This is a boost they can’t get from a book, from someone patting them on the back or from any other means – EXCEPT by achieving the goals they set out for themselves.
7. They experienced how to learn from their mistakes. Experience is the best teacher and mistakes are the best way to learn. In recent research, scientists found that when people made mistakes but were able to learn from them they perceived the mistake as positive and they were able to grow faster and go further. When your children discover how to learn from their mistakes at an early age, they don’t experience the obstacle of getting derailed by those mistakes as they grow older.
There is one sure way to achieve success in life – you fail and you fail fast. You learn from the mistakes, get up and try it again, differently. If you’ve learned HOW to learn from your mistakes early in life, you are leaps and bounds ahead of where you might have been.