If there’s one thing that all teens have in common, it’s their desire for independence. They want to be able to do things on their own without any help whatsoever. Teenagers can be proud of their skills and accomplishments almost to a fault, and many want to capitalize on them early.
One thing that comes with this desire for autonomy is financial independence. At a certain point, your teen might start feeling guilty or foolish by spending money they haven’t earned themselves. You may grant them an allowance through chores, or they may simply ask for money when they want to socialize with friends. Eventually, though, you want to stop doling out the loans, and they want to earn their own living!
Having a business-minded teen is a gift in many ways. Although it’s a step toward independence from you as a parent, you should still be supportive of your teen’s entrepreneurial mindset. Using your own work experiences and knowledge as a parent to help your teenage son or daughter is a rewarding process that will not only keep your wallet happier, but your teenager, too! Here are my top tips for supporting your family’s budding entrepreneur.
Set Tangible Goals
If your teenager expresses the desire to get a job and begin bringing in their own income, ask them why. They may want to begin saving for a car, contributing to their college fund, investing for the future, or just to have spending money. Regardless of their endgame, help them set tangible benchmarks and reasonable goals. Good questions to ask are:
- How often can they work each week without interfering with school?
- How much money do they need to save in order to reach their goal?
- How much should they be saving each week?
It’s a great idea to set small goals along the way. Breaking large tasks into smaller ones is a smart move to keep your teen motivated and moving toward their ultimate goal. It’s much easier to save up $200 as a sixteen-year-old than $2,000. But saving $200 every week will make them feel a sense of accomplishment and help them build budgeting skills! Before they know it, they’ll have the money they want.
Using a journal or calendar to keep track of these benchmarks will keep your teen organized and driven, which will make them more enthusiastic about their newjob! Be sure to check on their progress every once in a while, offering words of encouragement along the way.
Open a Bank Account
This might be something we adults take for granted, but your teen might not know the first thing about banking! They might not even know the difference between debit and credit accounts. When your teen starts making moves toward their own financial interests, be sure to teach them the basics of personal finance. Then, take them to your local branch and set them up with an account.
For some parents, this might be a frightening moment. Opening a bank account is a big responsibility that can end poorly if your teen makes bad spending decisions. But don’t worry! Many banks offer entry-level accounts for students and can even attach a debit card to a parent account. This way, you can monitor your teen’s financial activity while they still earn their own money.
It’s vital for your teenager to begin handling and budgeting their own money, especially if they begin bringing in cash of their own. They’ll have to learn one day, so why not now, with you to help?
Teenagers might have a hard time finding jobs that suit their interests when they don’t have any previous experience. Ensure them that this is okay, and help them find opportunities to showcase their skills. Are there any projects at your own job that your teen could help with? Do your coworkers need work done around the house? Your teenager might want to shoot straight to the top when it comes to their work life, but you need to encourage patience. Everybody starts somewhere, and more often than not, that place is the bottom rung of a very tall ladder.
Teaching your teen to persevere and work hard until they find an opportunity for advancement is a great life lesson. It’s also important to teach your teen to look for chances to move up. If they’re a writer, for example, they might offer to help their restaurant by writing a blog post! Also, lots of kids are much more social media savvy than their adult employers. Offering to help run an Instagram or Facebook account is a great step into the world of marketing!
The point is, you need to let your teen know they have to work hard to move up and meet their goals. Rather than see this as a burden, though, they should see it as an opportunity!
Use Your Connections
We’re all well aware it’s just as much about who you know as what you know. As a parent, you obviously have significantly more work connections than your teen. But, at the end of the day, aren’t you your teen’s biggest connection? You know your teen’s strengths better than anyone, and you have the chance to expose them to the working world. Ask your coworkers and friends if they need any extra help with tasks outside of work. Sometimes, your teen might be the perfect fit!
If your teenager is a tech wiz, for example, volunteer their skills to help troubleshoot IT and computer issues. If they’re good at video editing, maybe ask if they can help clean up a promotional video. If your teen is especially creative, see if your company’s marketing department could use any additional input!
Your teen may not always be paid for these tasks, but the experiences and references they’ll gain will provide incredible chances to strengthen theirrésumé. Which brings me to my next point…
Help Builda Résumé
Résumé building is something even many adults have problems with. How do you possibly show all your talents and skills on a few pieces of paper? For teens, it’s even harder! They’re already at a disadvantage in the hiring process due to their lack of experience, but they still have a valuable set of skills they want to show employers. It’s a difficult problem to navigate, but you can help them.
Do research with your teen on what make a good résumé. There are keywords and formats that are proven to work, and employers will see straight away your teen is serious about getting a job and succeeding. Your teen might not even know what to put on their résumé. Have a brainstorming session with them to come up with a list of skills and experiences that would be valuable to potential employers. Volunteer work, technical skills, special interests and passions, extracurricular activities, and any awards or honors they’ve received are great starting points!
You can also show the finished product to your own hiring department to look over. They can give professional feedback, and if they like what they see, it might even give your teen an opportunity to do some professional work!
Harness Your Teen’s Passions
Most teenagers can find entry-level positions as runners and hostesses at restaurants, baggers at supermarkets, and greeters at retail stores. While these are fantastic first jobs, they don’t always utilize your teen’s unique skills and passions. After a while, your teen might get burnt out or tired of working, but you can help them find ways to keep working and better their target skills, too! Teenagers are always more enthusiastic when they’re interested in what they’re doing, and it’s the same for work.
Ask your teen what they want to do when they’re older. They might not know, but it’s never too early to begin thinking about future plans. Have they shown an early interest in math or science? Literature? History? Psychology? Are they a sports nut? There are future careers for just about any area of interest, and the sooner your teen starts developing the skills they need to pursue their passion, the better.
Once you’ve pinned down your teen’s interests, help them think of ways touse them in a professional setting. With no previous experience, it may be hard for your teen to find jobs that fit perfectly, but get creative! Using your own connections and work experience, you might be able to land your teen a good starting project.
Create a Small Business
You can also help your teen start their own small business!It could be something as small as selling custom-drawn stickers to their friends, or something as big as flipping and repairing furniture. If you’re lucky enough to have an especially driven and money-oriented teen, the sky’s the limit!
Regardless of what it is, helping your teen start a small business of their own would be an enriching project with nothing but benefits in the long term. They’d learn work ethic, patience, creative problem solving, and a variety of other valuable skills and responsibilities.
Using the same goal-setting strategy I laid out earlier, help your teen list all the steps they need to take to make their business a reality. Will they need a website? Business cards? How will they make money? Through online sales? How will they attract clients? It’s a lot of work, but if your teen hones in their own passions, they’ll be more than willing to put in the hours! And it’ll look great on their résumé and college apps to boot.
Teach Your Teen about Investing
This is potentially my most valuable tip for raising a future entrepreneur. The fact is, teens often have a hard time seeing the long-term plan. It’s hardwired into their brain. Unfortunately, this means they might be foolish with their newfound wealth. As the parent of a business-minded teen, you have a responsibility to teach proper financial investing.
Explain to your teen the benefits and importance of saving and investing early. They might not see the benefits immediately, but they’ll thank you for it down the road. While it’s less money in their pocket, it’s more for them later in life. There are plenty of investment apps and companies that are friendly to young investors, and I encourage you and your teen to beginresearching and start investing straight away! If you can explain to your teen that investing will mean less work and more money, they’re likely to jump on board.
A great approach is to utilize the goal-setting strategy again. Help your teen set a goal for how much money they want to have in their wallet, as well as a number for their investment account. It’s a great idea to tell your teen that investing is a bill they have to pay; before they do anything with their money, they must pay their future self. Take a certain percentage of their paycheck and invest it each week, and they’ll be on a path to great investment and financial habits!
Don’t Hold them Back
On top of earning money, working and being business-minded is a great way to boost your teen’s confidence. Being granted more responsibility through work will teach your teen more about what they’re capable of, and prove that they’re able to use their individual skills to complete tasks and mediate conflict. It can improve their self-esteem and general wellbeing, as well as open them up to new interests! Truly, you should count yourself lucky if your teen is set on branching out and starting their own financial journey. It’s a sign of maturity and a great indicator of things to come.
You also might be worried that your teen’s interest in money and working will take away from their social or academic life, but you shouldn’t fear. If you follow these tips, you’re likely to find yourself the parent of a driven, successful, and hard-working teen who’s well-equipped for the world of business!
There you have it. Not only are these good strategies for encouraging independence and entrepreneurship in your teen, but they’re great ways to develop overall maturity and responsible habits. I hope you find these tips handy and use them to assist your teen in their business journey!
Eric M. Earle is the founder of Tutor Portland. He used to struggle with mathematics, but in his early twenties, studied math intensely and began to pass on his knowledge. Demand for his tutoring services led to the creation of Tutor Portland—which focuses on improving students’ math grades to better their college acceptance rates.