How would you like your kids to grow up able to make money in lots of different ways?
This is very possible. They just need to learn the many different ways in which money can be made.
Most kids grow up under the default impression that money is earned by working in a job and that’s it. Although, don’t take that for granted, some kids have no idea that their parents are going to work to earn money!
Helping kids realize that there is more than one way to make money can really make a world of difference. It can help them focus on saving more. It can help them want to learn new skills. It can help them spend more time doing the things they really love.
The other day I counted that my wife and I have 6 different sources of income. The great thing about having these different sources of income is that it provides us with security (as we aren’t relying on a single source of income). It also means that we have the option to spend more time with our kids (as we don’t need to work full-time to earn money). Over time we will continue to increase our different sources of income whilst trying to increase how much we make from each source.
We tell our kids about the different ways we earn money so that they can understand that as they grow they don't need to only consider being an employee on a wage. Hopefully they will grow up with the same flexibility and opportunities which we are lucky enough to have, especially in terms of the ability to spend time with family.
When it comes to making money there are two broad and distinct categories.
Two broad categories when it comes to earning money
First category is making money from your time, skill and hard work:
For most people this is working for a company as an employee. This is typically people’s only source of making money.
The other way is to run a business (no matter the size). This can be providing a service to others (self-employed) or selling a product. This is the area I want to focus more on in this blog. Before I do, let me first quickly go through the second category.
Second category is making money from the money you already have:
This means putting the money you have to work so it grows and makes more money.
There are a number of different ways to make money from the money you already have, including:
Putting money in a high interest savings account (although this approach isn’t making much money at the moment as interest rates are so low).
Investing in the stock market (you can find blogs on this topic here)
Renting out property (noting that your house is not part of this category, find out why here)
I strongly believe in letting kids know about these different ways to make money, even if they don’t have enough money for all of them yet (I don’t expect many kids to be able to have a rental property!).
As you’ll know from my other blogs, I tell my girls that money is like seeds. If they keep some of their seeds (save) and then plant them (invest), those seeds can grow into trees and produce more seeds. Each source of income is a different type of tree within their financial forest. This visualization really helps them understand the importance of saving some of their money and making that money work hard for them.
Remember this subject is rarely taught in most schools so unless we, as parents, teach them that money can grow, they are likely to use money only for spending and miss out on this opportunity to grow their wealth.
The best thing about this second category of making money is that once it starts to grow, it continues to grow whilst you sleep.
Before you can grow money, you first need to earn it. So, let’s go back to the first category and talk about starting a business.
Making money from starting a business
I want to talk about this topic further as it’s not something that kids generally appreciate as a way for them to make money.
When people think of a business, they generally think of large companies which have lots of different employees, buildings, different products and a fancy brand logo. All of these things require a lot of money and put most people off. They feel this is too risky and not for your 'average Joe'.
This doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be, the case.
A business can start really small with a very little amount of money. It can be a lemonade stand or making popcorn to sell to friends and family. If your kids are a bit older, they could even help tutor younger kids on a particular school subject or skill they have (check out mypocketskill.com as they help kids find other kids to tutor).
Even simple ideas like selling old toys (either their own or ones you help them buy at a boot sale) can start to get them into the mindset of making money from selling a product. The son of a friend from Hong Kong found an old bike and then cleaned them up (and repairing with the help of their parents) to sell for a nice little profit. These are all forms of mini-businesses.
The key is that most kids won’t appreciate that starting a business is a realistic option for them as they grow up, unless someone talks to them about it. As parents, I feel we should make sure we provide our kids with the full set of opportunities. They can still end up following the path of working for a company and excelling.
For some kids, starting a business could be the most exciting thing for them.
Benefits of helping kids start a mini-business
There are many benefits from getting kids to start a mini-business. Here are just a few:
As mentioned above, having a business, regardless of size, can be another way of making money (in addition to or instead of just being an employee).
Whilst money isn’t everything, having a business is how the rich became rich. They started something and it grew and grew. They now have people working for them so they can spend more time doing the things they want (and not waiting until they are pensioners to do so).
Also, owning a business means they’ll (generally) pay less tax compared to being an employee.
So, if your kids do want to have lots of money when they grow up, then make sure they know that starting a business is an option which could help.
Learn New Skills
By starting a mini-business your kids will learn about their:
Ability to sell
Ability to solve problems
Ability to manage money (profit and loss)
Ability to be creative
These are all skills which aren’t a key focus at most schools. Even if your kids don’t want to become an entrepreneur, these skills will no doubt help them in whichever path they choose to go down.
Uncover a Hidden Talent
Some kids will have a talent for being an entrepreneur. Whilst schools can uncover talented kids in terms of academic, sporting and artistic ability, they won’t uncover those with entrepreneurial talent. This is why parents should talk to their kids about starting a mini-business.
I previously wrote about my old neighbor, Harry, who absolutely loves starting mini-businesses. You can read more about him here.
Stand Out from the Crowd
During my career, I had to interview many different graduates. It appeared that most of the graduates would have the same CV. They excelled in their chosen degree. They’d had work experience in another firm. They either played an instrument or excelled in a particular sport. All great candidates (well, mostly great candidates!). Those that really stood out were the ones that had taken a risk and learnt from that risk. This is where starting a mini-business can stand them apart. Even if they don’t like it or it doesn’t do very well, the new skills and stories they would have acquired could help them stand out from the crowd.
Areas to avoid
Whilst it’s important to teach kids about good ways to earn money, it’s also important to make sure they avoid the allure of ‘get rich quick’ schemes.
Sadly, as our kids grow up they will be exposed to people and companies telling them that they can make money quick by gambling or other schemes. These are more likely to make your kids poorer, not wealthier.
For some tips on how you can teach them to avoid these schemes, here are a couple of blogs you can read at your leisure:
I didn’t think about starting a business until much later in life. This made everything much harder. I had a young family to support. I had a certain standard of living to maintain and I had become used to the security that having a career brings. I still managed to start my business (Blue Tree Savings) as we had been good savers for many years which means we have different sources of income to cover most of our expenses. Lastly, I’ve got a very supportive wife!
Starting young means you don’t have those pressures. Essentially, the downside risk from starting young is much less. It might feel that the lack of age and experience might make starting a business hard. That might be true but even if it fails, the impact won’t be as great.
Having multiple ways of earning money can really help reduce money worries and opens the opportunity to have a different lifestyle. If they have money coming from selling products they’ve created and some investments, it takes away the pressure to be working away at a career for 40 years. It might allow your kids time to take off when they come to have kids themselves or travel the world for an extended period of time.
Help your kids appreciate that once they have some money, they can use that money to make even more money. This will encourage them to save at least a bit of their money. Once they start seeing their money grow, it will change how they think about money in a positive way and change their habits so they look after their money.
Thanks for reading!