Starting up a family business is never a bad choice. Not only does it help with your family’s financial stability, but it can also be a meaningful parting gift to your kids when you finally decide to retire. It’s always best to get your teens involved with the business from an early age, and the goal is to give your teen opportunities to grow and show that they’re capable of leadership. From the parent’s perspective, this means that you have to be willing to take a step back to see how they can demonstrate their qualities, but it also means stepping in occasionally and being blunt and down-to-earth when they do something questionable or unproductive.
Sadly, it’s harder than it sounds to let your teen take the lead with a family business, but in this article, we’re going to introduce a couple of tips to help you become more accepting of your child’s role in the business and also how you can nurture their teen leadership qualities.
1. Let your teen live in the shoes of every position related in the business
The only way for your teen to develop solid leadership fundamentals is to have them experience everything involved in the business. Far too many parents make the mistake of allowing their teen to sit in an ivory tower watching over the business, being told that “one day you’re going to take over all of this”. Teens are incredibly impressionable so if you tell them that they’re the big boss, they’re going to act like it.
However, the appropriate way to introduce them to the business is to actually help them grow an appreciation for everyone involved in the business. If it’s a family restaurant, then give them a couple of days to experience each and every role, even if it’s only via shadowing. Show them what it’s like to be the kitchen porter, to wait tables and maybe even clean toilets. Let them see how to treat customers and show them what goes on behind the scenes when ordering stock, furnishing your restaurant or cleaning up a customer’s mess.
Once your child has learned to appreciate everyone’s role in a business, they’ll have a much better understanding of how each component plays a vital part in the success of the business. Only then should they be qualified to even consider taking the lead.
2. Teach your teen to challenge the norm and think for themselves
When letting your teen take the lead, you should be focusing on nurturing their opinions and encouraging them not to take everything at face value. It’s very normal for us to get into routines and follow traditions when it comes to business, but it’s often a poor approach because we lose track of obvious things and glaring mistakes that teenagers may point out especially if they’ve been in the shoes of everyone that works for your business.
Don’t just tell them something and make that statement law. Instead, allow children to challenge those business processes and ideas. Try and explain why things are the way they are, then encourage your teen to think for themselves and have them challenge everything if they think that something should be changed.
The goal here is to encourage your child to be more critical for their surroundings instead of just accepting things to be the way they are.
3. Have your teen learn about responsibility from an early age
It’s common for adults to create a safety net for their children so that if they do make a mistake, it can easily be remedied and the damage and be controlled. However, if the damage is something you can recuperate then it may be worth letting things be and showing your child the extent of the damage caused by their leadership. While it can be a cruel and often stressful time for your teen to realize their mistakes, it’s an important rite of passage that any business owner has to go through.
Your teen is going to make mistakes in the future so the earlier you teach them how to deal with failures and learn from them, the better off they’re going to be once they need to use their newfound leadership qualities in the real world. There are many ways to teach your child about responsibility, but illustrating cause and effect through a family-run business can be an incredibly effective way to speed up the process.
Responsibility also has the side effect of making your teen mature faster, and that’s never a bad thing.