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Two Of A Kind

Mothers and daughters learn how to run a small business.

Envision the typical 13-year-old girl. A whirling mass of hormones might not be far off the mark. But starting a homebased business with her mother? That's the scenario Dr. Marilyn Kourilsky, vice president of the Kansas City, Missouri-based Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation created in 1995 with the Mother and Daughter Entrepreneurs in Teams (MADE-IT) program operating in four cities: Des Moines, Iowa; Sacramento, California; Eugene, Oregon; and Miami.

MADE-IT is a two-year project that provides 13- and 14-year-old girls and their moms with the knowledge it takes to operate a homebased business. One of the program's primary goals is for the duos to use profits from their businesses to finance the daughters' college educations.

"The program is daughter-driven. We look for girls who are creative, imaginative, show leadership potential and are motivated," says Susann Siebke, program coordinator of the Iowa MADE-IT program at Des Moines' Drake University.

What attracted Des Moines entrepreneurs Kimberly Morris, 13, and her mother, Cindy, to the program was the opportunity to achieve a longtime goal. "I always wanted to start a business," says Kimberly.

"Kimberly and I already had some experience working together," says Cindy. "I did day care for 11 years, and she was a great help. She did a lot of reading to the kids and making crafts."

After being selected as one of eight teams from Des Moines to participate in the program, Kimberly and her mom attended a week-long workshop at Drake. Participants learned about the financing, marketing and administrative operations of a business from business consultants and experienced mother-daughter teams.

"We learned the importance of making a good business plan," says Kimberly. "I particularly liked the guest speakers who came in to talk to us. I was encouraged because [one speaker] told us how much fun she had working with her mother."

Now the Morrises face the nuts and bolts of launching their business, SMARTEES (Super Minds Are Readers), which will present free puppet shows and sell T-shirts, tote bags and other items promoting reading. According to Siebke, MADE-IT personnel will remain in constant phone contact with the fledgling businesses and periodically hold workshops for the teams to discuss problems and successes and to build moral support. About midway through the first year, the Morrises will be paired with a mentor.

If all goes as planned, Kimberly and her mom will join the ranks of other MADE-IT graduates like Casey Collier, 16, and her mother, Janice. During its first six months in business, the Colliers' ArenaWest Western-themed apparel lassoed more than $50,000 in sales; that figure has increased 25 percent every year since they started the business in 1995.

The Colliers exemplify what makes the mother-daughter combinations so powerful: Daughters believe they can conquer the world--and mothers temper the union with experience and caution.

This month, we say goodbye to our "Home Inc." column. No, we haven't forgotten about the booming homebased market--on the contrary. Beginning October 28, our new magazine, Entrepreneur's Home Office, will cover homebased business from top to bottom. We'll discuss finances, technology needs, health, family and the political issues that energize you. Find it on your newsstand or, to subscribe, call (800) 926-6995.

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This article was originally published in the October 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Two Of A Kind.

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