Encourage Entrepreneurism Early
With the money from gifts, allowances, etc., kids have the necessary funds to practice financial planning and management. But earning money is vital to a sound financial future, so we need to help kids get in touch with their inner entrepreneur as early as possible.
Brainstorm “business” ideas with your kids; write it all down no matter how nutty or age inappropriate the ideas may be. Even though the list will eventually be whittled down to what is doable, it’s fun and gets them thinking creatively. Once you have settled on an idea, have a strategy session to build their business plan. Who are their customers? What costs are associated with the business? How much can they reasonably expect to charge? What can they do to set themselves apart from their competition? How will they get the word out? How much time can they devote to the business? If others are involved, how will profits be split up?
Be sure to point out the concept of continuous improvement; that successful businesses grow because they are always looking for ways to improve. And don’t forget to stress that for one reason or another, not all business ideas work out, but the key is to learn from experience, pull up your socks and keep following your dreams.
Some ideas for enterprising kids include:
Selling toys that are no longer played with. My nephews do this on eBay, with parental supervision, and have become experts at it. If you or your kids aren’t up for that, an old fashioned yard sale is always a hit, and good quality toys are snapped up quickly.
Car washing. For tween and early teens, this can be very profitable. Our son and some neighbor boys set up a car wash business and made hundreds of dollars. They did it at the neighbor’s house because it had more passing cars, bought car wash soap and hosed and buffed up a storm. They made posters touting their dedication – noting what they were saving for (which escapes me now) and that washes were free, but donations were gladly accepted. Only one person took the free wash!
Lemonade stand. No getting around it; this is a tried and true old standby. But what might make it even better? Buy one, get one; choice of lemonade or iced tea – or an Arnie Palmer (half and half). Challenge your kids to break the mold!