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Encouraging kids to start their own business and become a kidpreneur is a fun way to boost creativity and confidence, while also providing priceless life experience. It also develops organization, money management, problem-solving, and communication skills.
For some kids, the entrepreneurial spirit is sparked through school or scout sales – in my daughter’s case, Girl Scout cookies! Selling provided me the chance to teach her phone etiquette, about establishing sales goals (Want that stuffed animal? Sell 500 boxes!), organization, time management, and the importance of thanking customers.
Selling Girl Scout cookies provided the building blocks of owning and running a small business.
As my children get older, there’s more motivation to earn income—social calendars that include fast food runs and other activities that cost money. And, as their personal preferences, styles, and hobbies emerge, they want to make more purchases.
Like so many others, my youngsters are becoming kidpreneurs. And, in our Coronavirus world, I’m glad that so many of the options for earning their own income are contactless. Kids in our neighborhood have started a business taking out garbage bins. For $50 a year, a local teen will place an American flag outside your home on every flag holiday (Memorial Day, Flag Day, Fourth of July, etc.). More traditional businesses are pet sitting and lawn mowing.
Is your child a kidpreneur?
Our 11-year-old loves making homemade dog treats with me, and loves selling them to our friends and neighbors even more! My husband and I helped her get her business started by asking her to calculate her time spent as well as ingredient and packaging costs to determine how much to charge for irresistible peanut butter/pumpkin pooch cookies. After crunching the numbers and conducting some online research to see what others charge, she weighed the treats to make sure hers were competitive per treat. She advertises throughout our neighborhood, and her Yappy Hours, where local pups can sample treats and enjoy pup-sicles, make her public relations mama extra proud (Find Jayda’s Barkery on Facebook).
Recognizing the importance of staff appreciation, she pays a commission to her sister or brother who help her with deliveries. She accepts e-payments and drops off at doorsteps so the transaction is contactless. Giving back is important to her, so 20% of the proceeds are donated to local animal shelters. Whatever is left after paying for supplies is divided between saving, spending, and investing.
Tips for Encouraging your Kidpreneurs
- If fun and sustainability are the goals, don’t push. It’s best when kids can pursue their passions. Our daughter likely wouldn’t have persisted with the business without a zeal for what she was doing. She has two dogs that love homemade treats, and she figured others would, too. If your child doesn’t already have a specific business idea in mind, ask them to list some of their favorite activities. If they love animals, maybe a pet-walking or sitting business is a good idea. If they love crafts or art, maybe candle-making with sales on Etsy is for them. Have a natural actor? Consider workshops for younger neighborhood kids. Music lessons, designing a mobile app. The possibilities are infinite!
- Set goals, make a plan. What kind of equipment, supplies, or training will your kidpreneur need? If they’ll be mowing lawns, they’ll require a lawnmower, gas, etc. Babysitting? Will they need CPR or first-aid training? Invite them to write down their goals for the business, including financial benchmarks and anything they want to achieve.
- Manage money. A business is a great way to introduce kidpreneurs to basic money management skills as well as complex topics like calculating gross profits and managing overhead. Teenagers can track income and expenses. Younger kids can practice adding up price totals and counting change. A heads-up, parents may need to help with startup fees – consider it an investment! Challenge them to itemize all anticipated upfront costs, so they know exactly how much is needed. Offer to fund a certain amount, as long as they establish a match with their own birthday money or allowance. Maybe even hold an investor meeting where kiddos pitch ideas and outline their financial needs and goals.
- Communication is king. Effective communication and emphatic listening are essential for entrepreneurship. Help your child create an elevator pitch so they can succinctly explain their product/service and understand their business’ value proposition. Stress the importance of customer service and encourage children to listen to and accommodate special requests when needed.
Some families rely on their children’s earnings to help make ends meet, but if that is not the case, remember the bottom line isn’t always the bottom line. The primary goal doesn’t have to be how much children earn, but how much they learn: about money management and planning, but even more important, self sufficiency.