When I was a kid, we were limited to babysitting, lawn mowing and paper routes as a means to be “entrepreneurial”.
Times have changed.
Thanks to technology, there are now countless ways kids and teens can earn money, run businesses and be an entrepreneur.
What hasn’t changed are the principles and leadership roles that parents play in developing their kid entrepreneur.
Let’s start with the basic rules (and then I’ll dive into the details).
The Role of the Parent
Your job as the parent is to teach and guide your child what to do – not to do it for them. Attention helicopter parents, if you make the cookies for your child’s bake sale or call your friends to generate babysitting business for your daughter…she. will. learn. nothing. and. gain. no. confidence.
Part of being an entrepreneur is learning how to manage emotions when mistakes are made, deal with rejection and manage money. Kids must learn how to fail.
When my daughter wanted to set up an Etsy account to sell slime and an Instagram account to sell gently used Lululemon sportswear, she didn’t know what was required. I taught her how to do Google searches and look for answers.
She learned that she needed a bank account. So she called Wells Fargo herself and asked what was required for a 13-year old to set up their own account.
Then I drove her to the bank. But she had to do all of the talking with the banker.
I taught her a few tricks how to create better lighting for her photos, the importance of hashtags and showed her how to create a fun logo on Canva.
The first weekend her Instagram sportswear store was open, my daughter earned $430! Her clothing store was extremely profitable.
Due to the high cost of shipping and materials, her slime store has yet to break even. 🙁
So in less than a month, my teenager learned how to set up two online storefronts, created a banking account, learned how to use Venmo, designed a logo, learned Instagram marketing tricks and learned the difference between a profitable business model and an unprofitable business model.
And all I did was drive her to the bank, help buy a few slime supplies (which she had to pay me back for) and teach her important marketing techniques.
The heavy lifting was all done by her.
9 Keys For Raising a Successful Kid Entrepreneur
Help your child select a job they can do on their own
Could your 4-year old really manage a lawn mowing business? Should a 9-year old babysit? Probably not. Help guide them to a job that is age-appropriate and that they can manage mostly on their own.
Make sure the job has an environment for success
If your child wants to have a lemonade stand but you live on a street hardly any cars drive down, you are setting up your child for failure. Or your child wants to build an online store, but your home has a terrible internet connection, it will be a frustrating experience.
Make sure your child has a recipe to succeed.
Be enthusiastic about whatever your kids choose to pursue
When my daughter got into the “selling slime online” craze, it could have been justifiable for me to put up a fight. Slime is made with expensive ingredients. It’s extremely messy. It’s heavy and expensive to ship. Bottom line: It’s nearly impossible to make money selling slime online.
But I saw her creating her own slime recipes and negotiating trades with other slime sellers. She attended three slime conventions and met people in person she had been following on Instagram. She did her 7th grade science fair project on “The Science Behind Slime” and won the blue ribbon.
As corny, messy and expensive as I think slime is, I’ve had to zip my lip and allow my daughter to develop important skills around her slime business.
Ask for donations vs naming a price
My kids used to ask .50 cents per glass of lemonade. But one day I randomly said “tell everyone just to make a donation”. And Holy Smokes! People handed them $5 – $20 bills time and time again for a glass of lemonade!!!
People love supporting kid entrepreneurs.
Instead of your kids limiting themselves and naming their price, try asking for donations instead. It works!!
Your child must re-pay the investor
If you spend $5 in cookie dough for your child to start their bake sale, make sure you teach them what an investor is. That $5 was given to them to help start their business, but it must be re-paid.
Teach basic manners in doing business
I am tougher on my kids about this step than any other. Why? Because the two words “thank you” have almost become extinct in business these days.
My daughter writes hand-written thank you cards with every clothes sales she makes. And when my kids have lemonade stands, I stick my head out the front door from time-to-time to make sure they are saying “thank you”.
Do not let you kids get away with poor manners, no matter what their age is.
Break gender stereotypes
Should your teenage son babysit? Can your teenage daughter mow lawns? Absolutely!
As long as the job is something they want to do (and you aren’t pushing it on them)
Online Storefronts and Social Media Marketing
It sounds easy to throw a product onto the internet and then sit back and make money, right? Well…..Creating a product to sell is the easy part. Marketing it and getting sales is the tough part.
You need to mentally prepare your child before they launch an online store that they must work for the sales they get.
Whether they are selling used goods on eBay, selling art or crafts on Etsy or selling cupcakes independently through their own means, it’s to their advantage to learn online marketing skills:
- How to collect email address, send weekly/monthly updates and follow proper email etiquette
- How to use hashtags to generate a following and business on social media
- How to build a WordPress blog
- How to set up a Venmo account (linked to their own bank account)
- How to take quality photos of the products they are selling
Learning these skills at a young age is exceptionally valuable.
Hope they get at least one bad customer
I know you are thinking What??!!
Let me explain.
When my daughter first launched her clothing store on Instagram, she had three people say they were going to buy (who never bought), one mom who bought a bunch of stuff but returned it the next day after her husband threw a fit and another customer whose payment never went through.
I am so glad my daughter had to deal with this.
She was upset and confused in each of these scenarios. But I explained to her that (unfortunately) this is life. People make promises they don’t keep. You cannot take anyone’s word in business. Until you have the money in hand, it is not a done deal.
So when your child has to deal with an unfortunate situation, tackle this head-on and turn it into a huge life lesson.
Kid entrepreneurs are simply awesome and the future of business. Give them all the love and support you can.
What projects have your kids tackled? What tips and tricks have worked for your family? Please share below!