Art by Jonan Everett
Most of us admire entrepreneurial spirit, even if we aren’t entrepreneurs ourselves. And many parents wonder how we can cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit in our kids. Obviously there is no foolproof formula, but it is something we can be purposeful about.
Both of my kids have shown an entrepreneurial streak from an early age. In fact, the other day, a friend asked me what I had done to make them that way.
My first thought? I had no idea. But as I pondered it, I came to realize that I did do some things that fostered the desire for them to make their own money. I also believe that some people are just born to be entrepreneurs. Maybe it’s a mix of both.
Business Ideas for Kids
My kids had a few entrepreneurial ventures of their own when they were young:
- Sell items at garage sales
- Door-to-door marketing
- Start a website
Selling Items at Garage Sales
As a young mom, I hosted large community garage sales where moms got together and sold gently used children’s toys and clothing. We routinely sold thousands of dollars’ worth of kids’ stuff at both the spring and fall sale. It was a huge undertaking, and I always paid my kids to help. I even allowed them to set up their own table to sell things.
The kids would usually have canned sodas and bottled water, along with all sorts of snacks. It was amazing to see how well they would do at each sale.
Instead of dreading the sales each year, it was something they looked forward to because they knew they would make money from their concession table. They would usually end up making $30 to $40 dollars each, which was a lot of money for kids their age.
Once he got a little older, my son set up a small business that catered to our neighborhood.
We received a magazine in the mail one day with all sorts of fun products inside — note cards, wrapping paper, cute pens, and other decorative items for the home. It was designed for a school group, but individuals could participate. So my son went around the neighborhood and asked people if they wanted to order something. And to my great surprise, many people did.
The company split the sales evenly, so if he sold $700 worth of goods in a week, he got to keep $350. Not bad money for a 12-year-old. Of course, either his dad or I would walk around with him once he ventured off our street. We were happy to take the time out of our days in order to give him the chance to earn money.
Starting a Website
When my daughter turned 16, it was time for her to start the high school project I require of my kids before they graduate. When she chose to do a personal finance website for teens called TeensGotCents, I had no idea that it would mean I would be working on it as well, or that it would become a full-time business for her. I quickly found myself spending several hours a week helping her with the website. Not exactly what I had in mind, but now that the site has become a career for her, I consider it one of the best investments of my time that I’ve ever made.
Fostering an Entrepreneurial Spirit in Your Kids
Whatever your children want to do will probably consume a lot of your time. After all, kids don’t drive themselves to the grocery store to get the drinks they need for their concession stand. However, the time you spend with your kids will help to build a relationship with them. Plus, it shows them the value of hard work and the satisfaction of earning money.
Taking the time to support your children and giving them the opportunity to have a small business is the key to developing a teen entrepreneur.
Of course, there is a fine balance between helping your child and taking over their entrepreneurial dreams. Be sure to let them do as much as possible; only help them on the things they truly need help with. It’s not the most convenient road as a parent, but it’s certainly worth it when your kids reap the rewards of their creativity and hard work!