Jennifer Senior has a great article in New York magazine about our cultural delusions about entrepreneurship. For example, most people say they want to work for themselves, but most people will never do it. They like a regular paycheck, and they like going to work in an office that is not in arrears. They like co-workers who are mentally stable and not willing to risk their family’s finances on pie-in-the sky ideas like vertical knowledge networks.
Inc. magazine says most entrepreneurs want a similar business experience—one of entrepreneurship—for their kids. The magazine then goes on to show how to teach your kids entrepreneurship in ten easy steps.
Moreover, kids see the financial instability of their parents. The life of the child of an entrepreneur is not being able to download free games on the iPhone, because even just to get a free game your iTunes account needs to be tied to a credit card that is not overdrawn.
My son says, frequently, “Mom, your card is overdrawn again.” And that’s nothing compared to the time our electricity was turned off.
So it’s no surprise that each time I have encouraged my kids to start a business, I have been met with resistance, or at least indifference. They do not glorify the idea of having their own business. And while I’m home all day long, with total control over my hours, they see me as working all the time, and when I inadvertently shut my eyes at lunch, I’ve been up all night working.
Maybe it’s because of the insane instability my startup life brings upon my family, but I am particularly sensitive to people who advise teaching kids to be entrepreneurs.
Business Insider says kids should use entrepreneurship to follow their passion. But first of all, you don’t need to work for yourself to do what you love. But second of all, doing what you love is terrible career advice. It’s not realistic. Do you love sex? Should you get paid for it? Probably not. See? We do what we love because we love it. We get paid for doing other stuff.
The most reliable predictor of who will become an entrepreneur is who has money to begin with. Because that’s what it takes to be able to endure the financial roller-coaster of generating your own income.
And somehow this has got to be tied to the research about how you shouldn’t bequeath your fortune to your kids. Bill Gates is giving his away as are most of the other in-the-know billionaires of Silicon Valley. And anyone who is considering giving their money to the kids is probably being swayed right now by Prince Andrew’s forray into a teenaged sex ring because what else do you do when you don’t need a job?
I think the conclusion is that too much money makes you take stupid risks, because you forget the value of money. One of them is entrepreneurship, and like other dangers of ill-begotten money, entrepreneurship is probably best left to those who have no other path but the wrong one.