For teen entrepreneurs, it’s not just homework or hormones and friends or fashion. For these exceptional young people, it’s all of that – plus finding funding, building business and securing their futures at an early age.
And it’s important that their parents understand and appreciate their struggles and offer them support every step of the way. These 10 tips are a great way to help young entrepreneurs start down a path toward success.
1. Start early.
By exploring interests at an early age, it encourages children to take an active pursuit of their passion – and perhaps eventually turn it into profit. Visit museums or parks, check books out of the library – anything to help cultivate their genius.
2. Try different stuff.
“If at first you don’t succeed…” It’s a good quote for a reason. Help potential profiteers learn this for themselves by encouraging learning by trial and error. Keep trying plans or products until they find the one that excites them into entrepreneurship.
3. Discuss values.
Equip them with the tools they need to make important decisions by discussing ethics and the importance of playing fair and being honest – on the field, in life and in business.
4. Make a business plan.
A business plan needn’t be long – a one-page plan should work for most efforts. By answering the below questions, teens will be able to clearly define their products, customers and advantages:
What business am I in?
Who are my customers?
How will my customers know about me?
How am I different?
5. Ask questions.
Enforce the need to think everything through early by asking questions – even if they may be hard for young people to answer. And remember: Be careful to come across as a partner, not as a nag! During this step, you should discuss materials, inventory, funding and budgeting.
6. Use the Internet.
From research to retail to advertising, the Internet is an important tool for fledgling businesses. Many teens have a marked advantage here, as they’re better online than any generation before them. Remember, always monitor site usage and message board posts!
7. Serve others.
It’s important that children have a plan that includes giving back to the world. Does the business offer a product or service that those less fortunate would benefit from? If so, work or product could be given away for free or at cost. If not, discuss setting aside a portion of the profits for a reputable organization that helps those in need.
8. Film a commercial.
This step is fun, and the confidence that children get from being on screen is amazing. Brainstorm ideas – from serious to silly – write a script and enlist the help of friends and family to round out the cast.
9. Develop a marketing plan.
Even the youngest entrepreneur should be actively involved in sales from day one. Ask them to develop a plan – and encourage them to think big (“no” should not be a part of this step!). Guide them to consider promotional or partnership opportunities; community stores or leaders who would allow advertising/product placement; advertising activities and more.
10. Define a style.
All children are leaders: They just have different styles and a unique selling point. Help fine-tune that style by building a leadership platform based on individual strengths and weaknesses.
These 10 tips are a great way to kick off what will hopefully be a long and successful business endeavor. But remember: Just as every child is unique, so is every business and every plan. There are no rules – other than to have fun, work hard and continue to learn and grow along the way. Good luck!