Discussing Money and Business with Your Kids
“…According to recent studies… Only 32% of the boomers in a new survey from U.S. Trust, for instance, had fully disclosed their financial situation to their kids, and just 44% of parents over 67 had.” CNN
Yesterday, PickyKidPix and I drove to her soccer tournament almost an hour early. I had the time wrong by 15 minutes and I always give myself an extra 15 minutes to get lost but this trip was smooth sailing. Her game, a 5:50 start time, was late and she sat around at home all day in her jammies, restless. So we left early and sat in car and she grilled me on my failed business, a women’s golf clothing line, that I started 20 years ago.
“You never told me you had a CLOTHING LINE?! You need to do that again! Don’t you know that I like fashion?!!”
“Oh honey, a clothing line is very difficult to start. It takes a lot of money and Boston doesn’t have any apparel manufacturing.”
How do I begin to tell her? The schmata industry is a dog-eat-dog world where no one is impressed with your Ivy League degree and everyone is out to steal from you. That my manufacturers, when not stealing from me, were in the worst gang infested parts of Los Angeles, and violent crime happens on a daily basis.
She first fixated on the failure part.
“Your company failed because you didn’t have any customers?!”
“No honey, we sold at Pebble Beach, Nordstorms and Poipu Bay, that Hawaii resort we were just at.” (No small coincidence either because, if you’ll recall, the head pro was a good friend of my husband’s.)
“What’s so hard about a clothing line?”
Gad where do I begin? Actually, I wanted to let her know that my choice of a business partner was my first fatal flaw and so I said, “When you start a business, you might think you need partners because it’s very scary but TRUST ME, you can do it on your own. You just hire people.”
She was all over that.
“Oh, and if they are bad, you just fire them?”
She’s all about firing people. I have no idea why.
“Yes, it’s easier to fire someone you hire than a business partner. Especially if you hire her idiot sister.”
And then, wouldn’t you know it? It was time to go to the field. We ran into her best friend Charlotte, her future business partner for a long dreamed up Staples Office Superstore that these two have been dreaming up for the last five years.
The first thing she tells her friend is, “Did you know my mom had a clothing lined but it failed.”
“Did you know that the first Staples store is next to iParty?!!” (This is the iParty in Cambridge that we go to.)
I told her that yes, I knew that and that I started my company the same time as Staples started. We were both 3 partners but the Staples founders were from Harvard Business School and we were mere undergraduates.
Immediately, she fired back, “So, partners can be GOOD?!”
Sometimes she pays too much attention to what I say! Sigh!
I read this interesting article on CNN about What to Tell The Kids About Your Money and I’m tending towards age appropriate full disclosure.
If you’re among this tightlipped majority, you no doubt have your reasons. Maybe, as the research has commonly found, you were raised not to discuss money or, if you’re doing well financially, you worry that full disclosure could have a negative effect on your children’s work ethic. Or perhaps you simply haven’t gotten around to having “the talk.” CNN
The Three Must Knows for your kids if they are old enough or for close relatives who would be the guardians for your children. I keep it simple. All the information is on the front page of the Home Bible Directory of business cards I keep AND I periodically email a few relatives with details of how to reach our attorney who did our estate planning.
- Your estate plans
- Your child’s role
- Where to find your assets
To what extent do you discuss money and business with your kids? Please share!
p.s. My girls and I have been watching Joe Zee‘s It’s All on The Line reality TV show in which he, as creative director of Elle magazine, intervenes to help struggling fashion designers turn their business around. It’s a great show to discuss why some businesses succeed while others fail. A lot of the episodes come down to hubris: can the designer take criticism to learn, grow and change? It’s not just about their design talent. In fact, all the designers are talented enough to succeed.
p.s. Final quote:
A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.