As a business owner and a mom, I’m proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with all the other parents out there who meet the challenges of raising kids and navigating the workplace. It’s not always easy, but I know I’m in a unique position to give my children something special. As an entrepreneur and a parent, you are too.
Have you thought about how much you can teach your kids based on the things you deal with every day at work? When our children are young, they still listen to us. When they grow older, their independence grows too. With luck and love, we can teach them early on and help them develop strong values and practical skills. I try to do it with ideas I bring home from work.
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When my husband and I were starting up ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba in Chicago, I almost gave birth at the office twice. Maternity leave just wasn’t an option. My daughter is 7 now and my son is almost 6, but they both got to know our workplace at an early age while they were in their cribs. They still enjoy spending time here, and they even have small jobs they do around the office. That probably explains why both of them have grown up wanting to run their own company some day.
I know I was motivated to be my own boss by the things I learned from my father. Watching him operate his small business taught me so much, and I want to do the same for my kids. I use my experience as a business owner to teach my children these five important life skills.
1. Smart Money Management Pays Off
Even though they’re small, the kids have schedules for chores at the house and things they do at our workplace. We pay them for the tasks they take care of at the office, and that makes them feel like a real part of our company. The children don’t get everything they want, but they save up for special things. My husband and I take them to the bank, and they fill out their own deposit slips. While their pay is small, it makes them feel very empowered. They’re also learning the value of managing their money.
2. Good Communication Starts With Listening
Sometimes, our teams at the office disagree over project details. The kids have seen us sit together and work it out by really listening to each individual’s input. I remind the children of this “stop and listen” policy when they start to argue. The strategy doesn’t head off every fight between the kids, but it does calm them down so that they can disagree without yelling. They know it works at our office, and I know it helps them develop good communication skills.
3. Getting the Job Done Is a Team Effort
When my son or daughter wants to go with me to a job site, I see it as an opportunity for teaching. The restoration process is very hands-on, so the kids see my crews in action working together as a team. Back at the house, they often pitch in and help each other with their chores. When they come to me with big smiles saying they finished in record time, I congratulate them on doing a great job and getting it done together.
4. Leadership Means Not Being Afraid
For now, the kids believe they want to grow up and be just like me and my husband. They already want to run their own business. I want them to have the courage it takes to be entrepreneurs even if they change their minds later on. At work, I’m never afraid of starting something new. Being a leader means being fearless. I try to teach the children that it sometimes takes courage to get things right. I want them to be brave when things go wrong too.
5. Every Dream Deserves Encouragement
My son likes to work on skateboards, and it’s a challenge for him at his age. I’m so proud of him for not giving up. My daughter wants to start a summer ice cream business. She might change her mind later, but she’s making plans now. If I hadn’t dreamed big when I was little, I might not be the head of my own restoration company today. As an entrepreneur, I encourage my children to be entrepreneurs. They may choose a different course, but as long as they follow their dreams, I know they’ll be successful.
They Teach Us, Too
Never underestimate the countless opportunities you have to set a good example as a working parent. When the kids look up to you and see you as a role model, you’re positioned to share your experiences and help them build their own personal and professional success in life. As much as I teach my children, they teach me too, and that’s one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned.
I take pride in the success of my restoration business, but the pride I take in watching my kids growing up happy and healthy is priceless. As an entrepreneur and a parent, I know you feel the same way.