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Ask Dave

Get Caught Up in The Lessons

Emily has a seven-year-old boy. He wants to eventually buy a horse and start a breeding and training operation. How can Emily and her husband teach him business?

QUESTION: Emily in Indiana has a seven-year-old boy. He asked Emily if he could buy a pig to show and make money. He got into that and now also has chickens. He wants to eventually buy a horse and start a breeding and training operation. How can Emily and her husband teach him business?

ANSWER: It souds like you are. I don’t know that you have anything to add to this. You’re teaching him he has costs. He has marketing. He has to watch the finances. He has to have a way to turn the product line into money, which he’s doing. He learns to work, which he’s doing.

I think the primary goal for a seven-year-old is not the actual dollars. For him, it is, but as the parent, my primary goal is the lesson that comes out of this. The lessons are if he applies himself, does these different things, it turns into money. There are four or five or six different things he unpacked there, and he needs to realize what they are. Now he’s doing that with the chickens. Jumping from pigs and chickens to racehorses is a long jump. That’s a lot of difference in dollars.

Don’t get caught up in the real dollars. Get caught up in the lessons. Don’t let him get caught up and so absorbed into this that he doesn’t slow down a little bit and get to be a kid occasionally too. He’s seven. I was kind of wired this way as a kid, and I was into business. I loved it. I was always doing something. That entrepreneurial spirit is something you do want to encourage. Follow what the Bible says: Train up a child in the way he should go, the way he’s bent, which is the way he’s designed. This one is designed that way. Your other one might not be designed that way.

Sometimes parents get caught up in measuring the success of this endeavor by the dollars. The success of the endeavor is whether the kid gets the lessons drilled into his heart on how business works.

The trick here is it’s not necessarily so that when this kid is 30, he’s going to own a breeding operation for racehorses. What is necessarily so is he’s probably going to be doing something that uses these lessons that he’s learning. One of the lessons, of course, is do something that you love. Right now, today, at seven, he loves racehorses. He may not when he’s 17. You need to be prepared that that’s okay. The deal is take away the lessons. Don’t worry about the money, and don’t necessarily extend any one of these given areas into his adulthood as the only possible way to do this stuff. Always be looking for teachable moments with business, with leadership, with money with kids. Expand on those teachable moments every chance you get.