How to Raise Entrepreneurial Kids

Although my parents are retired, they both had service professions: My dad was a fire chief and my mom was a teacher. Most of my extended family members work in similar occupations, and I’ve recently lamented that there are no entrepreneurs for me to turn to. I didn’t go to business school, but sometimes I dream about starting my own thing.

I have often wondered how my parents raised me to think like an entrepreneur without being entrepreneurs themselves—that’s why I was eager to read an Inc. article that highlights a talk by Mark Zuckerberg’s father, Dr. Edward Zuckerberg, about how to raise entrepreneurial children. Here’s what he had to say.

  1. Model working for yourself. Dr. Zuckerberg is a dentist in New York, and together with his wife (a licensed psychiatrist), they run a practice out of their home. "My kids all grew up around the office and were all exposed to computers," Dr. Zuckerberg said. "There are advantages to being exposed to computers early on. That certainly enriched Mark's interest in technology."
  2. Provide security for your kids. Children are more likely to take risks if they grow up with a stable background.
  3. Discover and encourage your kids’ interests.  "Rather than impose upon your kids or try and steer their lives in a certain direction… recognize what their strengths are and support their strengths and support the development of the things they're passionate about,” Zuckerberg says. He realized that his son was bored with schoolwork, so he set up an old computer from his office and let young Mark learn to code on it.
  4. Show them you’re proud of them. Being proud of your kids accomplishments will help them grow.
  5. Set limits and enforce them. You don’t have to be a disciplinarian, but you are the parent, and you should play the role of mom or dad. Let your kids be the kids in the relationship.
  6. Make sure they have playtime. "I think that extremes in any form in parenting are not good. Children need to be well-rounded. There's a place for work and a place for play," he says.
  7. Balance work and life. Dr. Zuckerberg acknowledges that he had a unique situation with a private practice at home but also says you should try and spend time with your kids away from work.
  8. Don’t grow old too fast. Never give into old age; model the idea of living a good life, and your kids will be naturally inclined to follow in your footsteps.

To learn more about this topic, read How to Raise an Entrepreneur.

Did your parents raise you to have an entrepreneurial spirit?