One way to help your child become more independent and develop essential life skills is to encourage them to start their own business.
As countless young people have shown, kids can launch and run a successful online or offline business. The products or services these kids’ businesses offer are varied. They range from selling home-made greeting cards and T-shirts to helping older people learn to use their electronic devices more effectively and coaching younger kids in school subjects.
One such business owner is Mikaila Ulmer from Austin, Texas. We featured her in Brainz for Change in the May issue (#45) of BRILLIANT BRAINZ.
Mikaila, who is in her late teens now, started her own home-made honey and flaxseed lemonade business at age four. That business has become a hugely successful, environmentally friendly, award-winning drinks company, Me & The Bees.
It supplies stores like Whole Foods Market and The Fresh Market throughout Texas. It also donates a percentage of profits to local and international organisations fighting to save honeybees. [You and your kids can learn more about Mikaila’s adventures as a social entrepreneur in her first book, Bee Fearless, Dream Like a Kid]
Henry, who’s now about 16 years old, wrote a book at the age of 10 called ‘The Adventures of Sherb and Pip’. He self-published the book with the help of a government grant. It sold thousands of copies, and Henry set up his business, Not Before Tea, to sell products such as bags, cards, nursery décor, and nappy pouches based on the characters in his book. He has appeared on many television shows discussing being a young entrepreneur and author.
Nina was just 14 years old when she set up her business, DevaniSoft. Her company sells computer software to remind people of their passwords, so they don’t have to store the information online and be at risk of being hacked.
She got the idea for her business after her father’s Facebook account was hacked. He had to change the password for every online account because he used the same password for them all.
To begin with, Nina focused her efforts on finding investors for her idea. Once she had raised enough money, she worked on producing an app. She now has investors and a team of coders and developers to help her run DevaniSoft.
If you want your child to learn the value and importance of money and many other essential skills like Mikaila, Henry and Nina have done, encourage them to consider setting up their own business.
For your kid’s business: Focus on their interests and strengths
You don’t want your kids to feel like their new business is yet another chore they must do to win your approval. You want to make sure it’s something they feel motivated and passionate about.
Help them to pick a business idea that plays to their interests and strengths. For example, if your child has skills or knowledge of a particular activity, sport, or hobby, brainstorm ways in which they could monetise it.
For instance, if your kids love collecting seashells, they could sell bags of them to craftworkers and other collectors on Etsy or eBay.
If your kid is a skilled footballer or dancer, they could coach younger kids and pass on some of their knowledge.
Suppose your child is particularly good at video games. In that case, they could live stream their gameplay on their YouTube channel and earn advertising revenue. As with any online interactions, you or another responsible adult should vet the content and conversations and manage the accounts, especially for younger kids, according to internet retail platform Shopify.
Make it flexible
Your child’s business activities must be fitted in around schoolwork, family life and extracurricular activities. For example, if your child wants to make money by washing cars or mowing lawns, it’s best they do it on the weekends.
It’s okay to help but resist the temptation to micromanage your kids’ businesses. Doing so will defeat the purpose of encouraging your kids to run a business. The idea is to enable them to become more self-sufficient and to take responsibility for their actions.
Where possible, allow your children to make important decisions about the business on their own. That way, they will have the pleasure of knowing they have achieved success on their own. Even if they make mistakes, they will learn valuable lessons from the experience.
Ideas for Kids Businesses
- Tutoring or mentoring younger children
- Providing lawn care for homeowners near where you live
- Gardening (weeding, raking lawn clippings, harvesting fruit and vegetables)
- Running a lemonade stand
- Selling on eBay, Vinted, Etsy, and other online platforms
- Being an online influencer (by providing online reviews and services)
- Doing housework for you or close friends and relatives
- Washing and cleaning cars
- Selling arts and craftwork (such as handmade cards and T-shirts)
- Babysitting/petsitting/plant sitting for neighbours or close friends and relatives
- Helping older people to master electronic devices
Ready to launch?
If your child has already developed an idea for a business, encourage them to participate in the Children’s Business Fair UK.
It is like a one-day pop-up marketplace that gives young entrepreneurs aged between seven and 17 the opportunity to launch their own business, sell to real customers, and make their own money. Each one-day event provides a marketplace for your child to sell their product.
Previous businesses have included greeting cards, handmade inventions, baked goods, handcrafted jewellery and toys, T-shirts, decorative arts, needlecraft, scented candles, and candyfloss. You can find out more about how it works here.
More Biz Kids Resources
Make £5 Grow — Virgin Money’s free programme for schools and home educators to give children the experience of running a business. Can include a £5 loan per pupil to help them get their enterprises started. (The focus age is 9-11 years old, but younger or older kids can take part and benefit too). Programme includes free lesson plans and resources that show what enterprise is, why teamwork is important, how to develop and test ideas, how to run a judging panel, plus guidance on marketing and selling products and services. See: Make-5-Grow.co.uk
Ultra Education – Offers free and paid-for resources teaching entrepreneurship to children and young people. Look out for great videos (delivered by father and daughter duo, Julian and Malachi) like, “10 Biz Ideas Kids Can Start on TikTok”, or plump for one of the paid-for guides like, “How to Become a Young Author”. See: www.Ultra.education
Scouts + HSBC Uk — Two powerhouse organisations combine to create a selection of fun activities for 7-11-year-olds to develop important money skills for free and potentially earn their ‘money badge’. See: www.scouts.org.uk/supporters/hsbc-uk/
Top Enterprise Educational Ideas resources – Teachers, parents, and children can search an array of great guides, posters, and business packs for such gems as the “Lemonade Stand Business Plan”. See: www.twinkl.co.uk/search?q=enterprise+ideas
CleverTykes – Offer entrepreneurial story books for 6-to-9-year-olds featuring kids-in-business role models; also the home of the “How to Raise Entrepreneurial Kids” guide book. See: Clevertykes.com