Has your son or daughter ever approached you saying, “I want to be an entrepreneur"? Probably not. However, little Alex or Emma probably has approached you with a gigantic expense in mind -- think the newest iPhone, the Xbox One, an uber-cool concert ticket or a weekend away at a waterpark.
And one thing you'll surely notice, as your child makes that pitch for the desired object, is that all his or her attention is focused on that one thing, with nary a thought of who gets to pay.
Well, you do, of course. But you also have a choice here: Buy the desired item and be done with it. Or help your child pay for this or future goodies by helping him or her become a successful kidpreneur. (only four months 'til Christmas!)
If encouraging entrepreneurship hasn’t been your system in the past, maybe it's time you took your kid by surprise. Because, never fear, you’re doing him or her a great favor.
"That's a super-cool thing you want!" you'll need to cheerily reply (practice in front of a mirror to perfect your presentation). "Let's think of a way you’ll be able to earn enough money to buy it!”
Then, once you've elicited the most important ingredient for your kid to become a successful kidpreneur -- motivation -- you'll be ready to help him or her with the following seven practical Next Steps.
1. Set goals.
This may be the first time you have set goals with your child. If so, help him or her set a realistic and easily digestible one. Set a completion date; then break it down into bite-sized pieces. If the goal is to earn $500 in three months, break down the goal into how much earnings are needed for each month, week and day.
And don’t forget to make the goal visible and measurable. A large poster board in the bedroom containing a photo of the product/trip desired, with the earnings scale beside it, should do the trick. That way, Alex/Emma can color in how much financial progress has been made, and every time he or she walks into the room, spot how far off that prize remains.
2. Find the right idea.
Keep it simple; your offspring doesn't have to come up with an idea that's never been done before. A lemonade stand. Lawn-mowing. Babysitting. A bake sale. Pet care: All are great ways to execute the goal. The main focus here is that the project should be your son's or daughter's idea.
If he or she is struggling to come up with a plan, ask what friends have done to earn money. Or check out my list of 200+ ideas for how to make money as a kid. With this list, I recommend that your child cross off every idea he or she dislikes or can’t do. Take the remaining list and go over with it with your child; it is often easier for kids to know what they don’t want than what they do.
3. Research the idea.
When researching the idea, have your kid find out what resources are needed, what the cost of doing business will be and, finally, what to charge. Set your child up for financial success: Help him or her understand the relevant facts of the money-earning idea.
4. Design a sales and marketing plan.
Now it’s time for your kid to determine how to reach the target audience and share the message. Start by having him or her write a simple sales pitch. Include the following: name, business name, the reason the earnings are needed, the benefit the product or service will provide, proof that others have used the service (even if that's you, as the first customer!), plus a call to action.
This pitch can be used on all marketing methods. Here’s a list of a few marketing methods that work for kids:
Emailing or texting friends and family
Making a catchy Facebook post (perhaps for a community group page) and encouraging others to share
Sharing the pitch on Instagram
Putting up flyers and posters around the neighborhood
Going door-to-door in your neighborhood
Setting up a stand on a busy street or at a local park
These methods are tried and proven to successfully market a kid-run business.
5. Build a support team.
CEOs don’t run their businesses alone, so why should your kid? As parents, you and your spouse should be your kidpreneur's biggest support; but that doesn’t mean you'll do all the work. Some of the greatest learning opportunities come from experiencing failure. Be there to support your child and work through any disappointment and setbacks.
There are other ways, too, to add a "support team" to your child’s business venture. Find a mentor, maybe a neighbor, already involved in your child’s business category, in terms of a career. Friends can make great partners or employees; and working with an adult friend creates peer-accountability while keeping things fun.
6. Just . . . start.
The most critical step of all is . . . just START. Knock on that first door, send that first email. The intimidation of getting started is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome. But, as your child experiences tangible reward for his or her efforts, the confidence and momentum that result will propel your little kidpreneur past any fears.
One of the biggest pitfalls your child will face after reaching the desired earnings goal will be backing off from not spending it fast enough. Each time your kid brings in a little money from the new business, issue praise, but also encourage the updating of that bedroom goal poster, followed by a trip to the bank.
It's amazing to see how much money kids can earn when they set their minds to it. However, if your particular child is thinking of giving up because the goal feels unattainable, consider the 50/50 option, “If you earn half, I’ll pay the other half.”
As a young entrepreneur, your children will find that the most valuable "earnings" from these experiences will be what comes during the effort, not the arrival, at their final goal. The investment they make into struggle, any failure en route and continued perseverance are the factors that will ensure they come out on top.
By navigating their way through a real-world experience, they have a laid a foundation of success to build upon for the rest of their lives. And, who knows what grownup, adult successes may follow?