As a working mother I am constantly fraught with guilt over the demands of my work life and whether I am a good enough mother! The constant rushing around . . . . . saying “quickly” in almost every instruction to my children . . . . . endless lists - working moms – you know the drill!!
This all changed for me, one Sunday afternoon . . . .
My printing staff were working an over time shift and I had to go lock up the factory. While everyone in the street was having a Sunday afternoon rest, I grabbed my keys to rush off (yet again). The kids were playing in the street with friends and when they heard where I was going , they begged to come with. So off I went with 6 excited children between the ages of 8 and 11.
I showed them all the different departments, briefly told them how the products were made and before I knew it they had gathered a large pile of off-cut fabrics to take home! I was amazed at the relevance of the questions they asked while I explained the workings of the business, and it was clear how each child even at this young age had already developed clear interests and preferences for either the design, marketing, sales or manufacturing sides of the business.
Before I knew it a production line was set up at one of the houses with a mom’s sewing machine and production was underway! Each child focusing on the part they were best at, whether it was sewing, folding, cutting or designing the logo for “Happy headbands”, their very first business!
With a heap of stock neatly sorted by design and colour they took to the streets, logo design, signage and stock file all created without any adult help or supervision – even taking to door to door advertising to increase their customers at the stall! Very proud, and fairly exhausted from selling in the sun the whole day, they came back that night with a full R500.00 turn over!
I was amazed at the understanding these young ones had of setting up a micro business and the care they took in managing it. They could tell me exactly what they sold and which designs were more popular than others, and very wisely the money was put back into the business to generate more stock – now venturing into new products, with an admirable understanding of what their skills limitation are and what would be sellable and affordable.
Not only was I incredibly proud of their ingenuity, teamwork and perseverance, but I realized that instead of feeling guilty about being a working mom, I could embrace the fact that I am opening up a whole new world to my children and their friends, by passing on the “entrepreneurship gene”.
I would like to applaud every single working mom for keeping all the balls in the air (most of the time), still managing a smile at the end of the day and urge you to share your knowledge and endeavors with your children.
- Share your working day and experiences with your children – the inevitable time spent driving to and from school or between activities is perfect for this.
- Don’t underestimate their intelligence and ability to grasp business principles at a very early age.
- Encourage them to create and sell – even if their venture results in a mess in the kitchen or garage!
- Explain how different services and businesses work, you will be amazed to see where their interests lie.
There is definitely an argument to be made for entrepreneurship being a born trait rather than a purely taught skill, but it is our responsibility to expose our children to the world we work in every day, as they will be better for it!