Summer is here and you may be wondering what you’re going to do with the little ones…or wondering what they are going to be doing with themselves, if they are old enough to fend for themselves, that is.

The question is, How do you know when are they ready to fend for themselves? That is a great question. The only way to really find out is simply to give them a little rope and see what they do with it!

The great thing about summer is that, unless they have their first job already, they often have quite a bit of free time on their hands. They hang out with friends, bug you to take them places and, unless they are already getting an allowance, constantly ask you for money. Whether it’s a movie here, a mall visit there, an ice cream with friends every weekend, the nickel and diming can add up to a whole lot of change by the end of the summer.

What if you could could end up with a whole lot of change in a different way? What if you could empower them, instead, to make their own money this summer? What if you could set them on a path that would ultimately lead to financial self-reliance?

How about this: next time they ask you for money, turn to them unemotionally and say, “Wow, won’t it feel great when you figure out how to make that money yourself? I wonder what you could do to start creating an income for yourself right now?”

And then be quiet. Don’t say anything else. Don’t give ideas or attempt to rationalize the proposal. Just let them sit with the idea.

You’ll probably see some eye-rolling, a little shoulder shrugging and perhaps a good deal of frustration expressed in the form of ill-formed sentences protesting the injustice of it all. But, if you stand in your resolve to help them begin a life of their own, you may be very surprised at what comes next.

Once they realize you’re serious, your next question to them could be something like, “So, what do you see people buying or needing around you?” Let them think about this question for a bit. Suggest that they start paying attention to everyone around them. Notice what they need. Notice what they are buying. Notice what they are talking about in terms of products or services that they would like.

If you can get kids to do this, you will have saved them from the number one mistake many entrepreneurs make.

Oh, you want to know what that mistake is? OK, the number one mistake entrepreneurs make is this: they get a ‘great idea’ and then go off and expend a tremendous amount of energy and quite a lot of capital bringing that product or service idea to market without first considering whether there’s a market for the product or service in the first place.

Many businesses don’t even make it out of the starting block simply because there is no market (people) to buy their great idea!

Instead, teach your children to do what successful entrepreneurs do: they pay attention to what’s going on around them and pick a market (group of people like women, teens, boys, girls, golfers, basketball players, seniors, pet owners), they notice what that particular market is buying already and then they choose a product or service they think that particular market may buy as well.

This is how successful businesses are born. And this is how you can help your children take that first step in growing their own business. Once you’ve provided the catalyst for getting them to think about creating their own money and you can get them to start thinking about the above question, be ready to assist them every step of the way.

Help them refine the market (pet owns with big dogs, women with toddlers, etc.), help them write a business plan, help them create a budget and be ready to lend a little startup capital if needed (and yes, charge them interest or take a percentage of their new enterprise. There are valuable lessons every step of the way).

If all this talk about business is foreign to you, no worries. Simply help your child find a friend or neighbor who would be willing to step in as a mentor. Successful entrepreneurs often welcome helping a child start and run their own business. There’s nothing more fulfilling than helping a child learn the ropes of self-reliance.

There you have it. Whether it’s a simple lemonade stand or the creation of a new dog walking leash for seniors, help your children learn the lessons of business so they come to love the power in creating their own way, and money, in life. You’ll be doing them, and the world, a huge favor.

Elisabeth Donati is the founder of Creative Wealth International and an expert in teaching kids of all ages (including adults) about money and wealth creation in a fun and entertaining way!

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