Growing a Summer Entrepreneur

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As school lets out and summer warms up, our children find themselves with more free time to pursue interests outside of a traditional learning environment- including starting their own business.  With our encouragement and guidance, kids can learn valuable life skills by flexing their entrepreneurial muscles.

We may sound like a broken record, but it bears repeating:  traditional schooling does not include much in the way of financial education, including how to run a business.  We think this is a shame.  Future innovation depends on the entrepreneurial mindset of our children.  Kids that start businesses at a young age have more opportunity to develop the organizational and financial skills needed to become independent and innovative adults.  They also have more opportunities to fail, learn from their mistakes, adapt and change course.

How does your child decide which business to start?  In his TED Talk, Let’s Raise Kids to Be Entrepreneurs, lifelong entrepreneur Cameron Herold says that parents need to look at what their child is naturally good at.  Coming up with an idea that combines their strengths with something people are willing to pay money for is a good place to start.

Are there skills necessary in running a business that your child doesn’t have yet?  Not to worry- doing things they haven’t yet mastered goes a long way in developing their long term self confidence.  They may not have had a lot of opportunity to practice some of the skills needed- such as managing money, resources or time, but that’s the point.  They don’t need to be experts to try something new- it will force them to learn and adapt, two very important life skills.

Here are some groups of business ideas your child can start:

Provide a service

Children can develop a sense of responsibility as well as PR and time management skills by providing services to friends and neighbors.  Getting the word out about their pet sitting, dog walking, weed pulling, power washing, car washing or lawn mowing business forces them to create a plan, market themselves and manage customers’ expectations- a tall order for a kid.  If they would rather work indoors, they could organize/ clean out garages, babysit, help prepare meals, gift wrap, paint, or create invitations or signs with fancy lettering.

Provide a product

We can’t talk about a summer business without mentioning the quintessential lemonade stand.  The logistical, organizational and financial skills learned from creating and marketing a product (even something as simple as lemonade) will be skills they will use the rest of their lives.  Other fun ideas include making baked goods, handmade candles, soap or jewelry, flower arrangements or having a book sale or swap.

Teach a skill

When it comes to technology and social media, kids are miles ahead of us.  Many adults would shell out cash to have kids demystify the world of tech, smart phones and social media.  Your kids could also create how-to videos about their favorite hobbies- whether it be drawing, building Legos, magic tricks or making tricks paper airplanes.

Hire their friends

Your kids may even try their hand at enlisting and organizing their neighborhood friends to help with their business.  Hiring and managing their peers requires strong interpersonal and motivational skills.  It also lets them practice different negotiation techniques and manage payroll issues.

With your children’s newly created income, encourage them to learn about investing.  Teach them about the importance of starting early and the power of compounding over a lifetime.  We can help with this part.  The chores they do at home can be used to buy stocks through our BusyKid app.

The life skills and financial strength children can build from starting their own business will last well beyond the summer.

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