Startup CEO on raising kids with an entrepreneurial mind

Ever since she was a child, Cheryl Sue Hoy always knew she wanted to run her own business.

“When teachers asked what your ambitions were… and a lot of kids wanted to be doctors or lawyers. My goal was [to be] entrepreneur,” she told CNBC Make It.

That childhood dream is now a reality for the 39-year-old serial entrepreneur, whose companies include Reclip.It, a consumer software startup that Walmart Labs acquired in 2013.

She now runs Tiny Health, a health tech startup that sells home gut health tests for moms and babies ages 0-3. The CEO and founder said the test can help detect gut imbalances early and prevent chronic disease.

Just last week, the company raised $4.5 million in seed money and announced that its backers include US cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, Google X and Dropbox.

Cheryl Sue Hoy (center) with mom and daughter Charlize, now 4 years old.

Little health

Sue Hoy, a Malaysian now based in Austin, Texas, attributes her success to her mother, who was also an entrepreneur who ran her own marketing business in Malaysia.

“My mom she owned her own company and was the boss. Before working from home was popular, she was already working from home and I always had that role model,” she added.

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Things have come “full circle” for Sew Hoy, who is now a mum. to two children, ages 2 and 4, as she begins to teach them the lessons she has learned.

What advice does she have for raising entrepreneurial kids? CNBC Make It finds out.

Engage in storytelling

It’s hard to teach kids what kind of business they can start at a young age, but kids “remember stories” — and that’s the best way to expose them to entrepreneurship, Sue Hoy said.

While she modeled after her mother simply observing, Sue Hoya said she wanted to be more “intentional” about running a business with her children.

For example, she explains to her children about her job as CEO, the “back story” of why she started Tiny Health.

I teach them why I work hard. Yes, it’s to make money, but it’s not just about buying or spending food.

Cheryl Shute Hoy

CEO and Founder of Tiny Health

“Talk to them like adults, even if you think they’re too young to understand. The more you talk to them like adults, [you’ll realize] they actually understand a lot and learn a lot from it.”

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As she explains what she does to her children, Sue Hoy said she also teaches them the value of money.

“I teach them why I work hard. Yes, it’s to make money, but it’s not just about buying food or spending money. When you make money, you have to create something of value to people. What problems do you want to solve in the world?”

To cause trouble

Entrepreneurship is about solving problems, and that’s something kids can learn through adversity, Hoy said.

“There’s a difference between great entrepreneurs and good entrepreneurs. The great entrepreneurs are the ones who will constantly bounce back because running a business on a day-to-day basis is really freaking hard,” said Sue Hoy.

If children only have “smooth rides” where problems are always solved for them, they will never learn that value, she added.

“It takes a lot of patience. My daughter would whine and say, ‘Mommy, I can’t do this.’ I would encourage her to try again and maybe help her a little bit,” she said.

“If she succeeds, especially if she succeeds on her own, she learns, ‘If you had given up earlier, you wouldn’t have made it.’

Sue Hoy said she noticed a “spark” in her 4-year-old daughter after going through the same scenario with her several times.

“I know she’s learning because next time [she tries to do something], she tells me, ‘Mom, I can do it. I am strong.'”

“So if our lives get too easy, I’d cause calamities [for my kids]”.

Clarification: This story has been updated to more clearly state the age of Cheryl Sue Hoy’s daughter, Charlize.

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