How To Start A Business For Kids

The First Step

If you only ever teach your child one thing about business, here is the one business idea that will make the greatest difference:

First demand, then supply.

Find a market, find out what the market wants, and then work out how to provide it.

A vast, vast proportion of businesses are started completely the wrong way. Someone has a great idea, or an invention, or something they are good at, or something they enjoy, and then they go about trying to find someone to sell it to.

This is a recipe for heartbreak, if not bankruptcy.

From the very first lesson in the very first week at Cash-Smart Kids, we are teaching kids this vital, vital concept.

We don't start out throwing around words like "demand" and "supply", of course - that comes later. We make sure that the child is doing the right thing, even if he or she doesn't know what the right thing is called. Kids learn by doing, and the basic ideas in business are not rocket science. Economists and MBAs like to throw around the big words, but in truth, the big words aren't necessary.

I introduced my kids to this concept by means of a simple Q&A session, which went like this:

Why do you want to have a business?

To get money.

Where does the money come from?

Customers.

Where are the customers?

Out there.

And where is the money?

In their pockets.

Why would they take the money out and give it to you?

Because there's something they want.

What is it that they want?

Ummmmmm ...

And suddenly they understood why we do market research!

If you don't know what the customers want, you can't offer it. And if you don't offer it, the customers won't hand over the money. And if you don't have customers handing over money, you don't have a business.

Encourage your kids to brainstorm the things that people are willing to spend money on - things they will pay other people to do, things they want a lot (like a cool drink on a hot day - more than one young entrepreneur has made their start selling cool drinks to captive groups of adults, for example at local markets, car boot sales, or sports fields), or things they love (their hobbies, pets, and other passions).

Then have them go out and actually ask questions of their prospective customers. Find out what the market wants to buy, and what they would be willing to pay.

Your kids will then be in a great position to invent a business idea that will actually make them money from the get-go - very important for keeping them motivated!

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Comments 73 comments

Mark Knowles profile image

Mark Knowles 8 years ago

Not a fan of this idea. Kids grow up too fast as it is. Why not let them be kids?


Inspirepub profile image

Inspirepub 8 years ago from Sydney, Australia Author

Thanks for the comment, Mark.

I can understand that perspective. Our culture certainly seems to think that managing money is something best left until adulthood. And adults who have businesses often appear burdened.

I can only speak from my own experience here, but the kids I see out there doing creative things to earn money don't seem to regard it as burdensome, or even as work.

For my observation, it seems that to kids, earning money is as natural as spending it, until we adults and our cultural programming interfere and make it all serious and stressful.

Of course, if parents are pushing kids into it, that's just as bad as pushing them into beauty pageants or sporting teams or anything else to serve the parents' agenda instead of coming from the child's own interest. I blogged about that recently, actually, parents who seem to want to use their kids to make money for the parents.

I hear you on the growing up too fast, though - my girls started talking about having "boyfriends" at 10 or 11 years of age! It was interesting that once they started getting involved with adult activities, both in business and in community activism, their interest in become prematurely adult in their dress and behaviour dropped right off.

Of course, I only have girls - I'd love to hear from someone who has a boy. Is it the same with boys? Do they seem to want to grow up too fast?

Jenny

P.S. Your Forex page is really great - I wish there was more level-headed educational material around. Unfortunately, people don't seem to appreciate it, and advertisers don't want to advertise beside it. We tried to get a print magazine going a few years ago that would be all just like your Forex page, covering property, debentures (don't get me started!!!), shares, currency and futures trading, business, and whatever else people get into to try to get ahead. We just couldn't get enough advertisers to cover the cost of printing it. Good on you, and may you do many more like it!


Mark Knowles profile image

Mark Knowles 8 years ago

Running a business and managing money are not the same thing in my book. I do think that kids should be taught the value of money. All girls over here too :)

I guess my issue with teaching them to run a business is that it is stressful and the only way to let them do it without the stress is to let them have free food, a free bed, no taxes to pay, a free computer to run the "business" on etc, and this will give them a skewed perspective.

It's a bit like the "free practice accounts" that you can set up at a forex site. If there is no money on the line, you act differently and there is little to be learned. Same thing. If they are not going to be thrown out of the house if they lose all their money, they will make different decisions. Therefore it's not really teaching them how to run a business. What do you think?

And thanks for the compliment - I try and say it as I see it. Costs me money sometimes, but I would rather do it that way.


Inspirepub profile image

Inspirepub 8 years ago from Sydney, Australia Author

I agree with you that it would be stressful to expect kids to launch into running a business as an adult does.

Just as we teach them to ride a bike by running beside them and holding it up until they get the hang of balancing, or do the handling of sharp knives and hot things when they are learning to cook, parents need to allow kids to expand into business activities safely and according to their capability.

I think most parents would already provide their kids with free food, a free bed, tax-free income, and the use of a computer. If the kids use those resources to learn ballet, nobody complains that it's a skewed perspective because professional dancers have to pay their own rent and food out of their earnings.

Business is an activity like any other, and it may or may not end up being a child's primary source of income as an adult.

I never had the build to be a professional ballet dancer, but I gained strength, poise and confidence from my ballet lessons, which I use for other things now. Kids will gain knowledge and skills from their business activities, in the same way.

Exposure to the process of creating value for a customer is a vital part of learning how money works. Even if someone spends their entire life as an employee, understanding that a business only exists to provide value to its customers makes that person a much more valuable employee than someone who thinks that money comes from showing up, doing the minimum required, and talking your way out of any trouble you might get into (aka employee mindset).

Just my 0.02, YMMV and all that ...

Jenny

P.S. Yes, I'm with you - you can't put a price on your integrity.


Casey 8 years ago

im very confused about those last few comments but this article really inspired me!


Inspirepub profile image

Inspirepub 8 years ago from Sydney, Australia Author

I'm glad you're inspired, Casey - I hope you turn that inspiration into something great!


teddy2kol 7 years ago

hhow do you actually start a buisness?


LP 7 years ago

Encouraging kids to start a business is sooooo much more than just making money. It teaches them people skills, time management, politeness, understanding of how the business world works (and doesn't work), dedication to a purpose, and just the ins and outs of human behavior and social psychology (fancy way of saying dealing with nice people and jerks). Lesson they will NEVER learn in school or the playground. I am proud to say that both of my daughters have their own businesses - both were self-created by them. My 12-yr old makes around $1200/year and my 7-yr old makes around $80-100/week selling items that they create and sell. The lessons they learn from 'selling' are invaluable.


dan slack from england 7 years ago

in our modern world if a child realy wants to do it they will do it


Sabrina 7 years ago

I'm kind of confused


hlemusmiller 6 years ago

i want to get money i love to have money and how do you do it ????? i dont know how to do it


shlubber 6 years ago

i am a kid and we need u 2 actually ssuggest ideas


hamzahh  6 years ago

im confused


Jacob Lawson 6 years ago

I am a 12 year old guy in a small town and i like to do lawn work so i just want to start a buisness. I want someone to come and say...hey this is how u do it now do it and i will.


saida 6 years ago

how do you start a candy business


Chris 6 years ago

I am a kid and I am looking to make some money... Any ideas on how I can make a profit?


kobe 6 years ago

you guys are coming to wrong web site


kk 6 years ago

i wanna start a business but this article doesn't show me how, just all the good reasons to. :(


Anonouymous 6 years ago

I am 14 and made almost 400 dollars with a business. I started fixing Xbox 360 controllers and modding them. A kid is definetly able to make a business. He just needs to see what all the kids in school want most.


REBECCA 6 years ago

I THINK IT`S NICE TO HAVE BUSINESS

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chloe 6 years ago

i want to start a shop called chloes cafe co. can you help


a+ kid 6 years ago

I did it i got $1,000.00 from this site!


Rena 6 years ago

I am a young teen and I have a business. Let me tell you, it's awesome. I make about $160-$180 dollars a week for creating functional pieces of art, and I am often asked to create a certain type of item for a usually amazing amount of money. If you're a kid and want to get into business, there's lots of options. If you're creative, make and sell art. If you're talented with wood or metal, make some useful stuff. And if you're not sure what you like, be a babysitter, lawn mower, or even just start a lemonade stand. I started out selling buttons that I colored with Sharpies on my street for 75 cents for a bag of colorful buttons. Some ways you can start are: Go around your neighborhood [if it's safe to do so], seek out families with young kids, and offer to babysit. Or, clean a little for the sick old lady down the street. You could even care for someone's pet while they are away. Also, what a lot of kids I know did, create a work of art out of recycled things, and get a booth at a market/fair and sell. I've found that people are suckers for art made by kids, especially if it's recycled or for a good cause [animal shelter, hospital, homeless people, etc]. And if you can't get any business in what I suggested, there's always yard work. I know a few kids who found their calling in that :)

Anyway, good luck in your business!


sydney 6 years ago

i belive as a kid myself that mark has the wrong view on this topic it seems he belives that by running a business kids would not be able to have a kidhood or be kids. but we could the money means we can go do stuff withought breaking our parents of money and that we can supply ourselves with what we want.


anynomous 6 years ago

It's a very good website kids about the market. I'm 11 and I'm still thinking on what I should plan on doing.


saad 6 years ago

i will make a library and today i did it and i will take alot alot of money


anonomouse 5 years ago

i sell art i am 12 and am a passionate artist and i also do poetry


LADAISHA PIERSON,KAILYN DAVID 5 years ago

THANK U FOR THIS SITE I REALLY WANTED A BUSINESS AT THIS AGE


ariyail 5 years ago

hi my name is Ariyail banks and I am always thinking of how to do something big and how to become rich and/or famouse ,I really need some ideas. P.S.i'M 10


Dannii 5 years ago

I get the ideas for buisness, but what about HOW to set them up. Our neiborhood isn't very safe, so I can't go to neighbours and clean or babysit. I'm still unsure on how to get started. I do love the idea of recycled art.


Nathan Riethman 5 years ago

Well, Mark Knowles, I kind of beg to differ. It seems to me that most things people want now a days basically cost an arm and a leg to get. So, parent's want kids to help foot the bill. Well, the standard doing extra chores or mowing lawns just isn't cutting it now for the bigger expenses. So I kind of think that kids should start a business. It provides some good life lessons and can help tham create a better future for themselves.


not what i put 5 years ago

I wanna start sellin sweets probably or somin like that but all this really sez is

'Oh it's such a good idea to start a business' and 'oh and and it teaches children skills and encourages them...' ARRRRGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!! we need IDEAS!


casy 5 years ago

but does this come with sales tax and is it legal for a 10 year old?


bob 5 years ago

i'm running a bookmark link chain business people wanted the whaler thing but i will let them chose what pieces they need in the bookmark business is booming


ebony nicklin 5 years ago

i really need to earn money fast. one reason is because i always buy my family stuff that will help them etc, also because i want to give loads of money to charity, i have been thinking about donating to hospitals and Japan (because of the earthquake). have you any suggestions on what i could do to earn money quickly? many thanks if you do x


nyssa 5 years ago

hey i am 11 and want to raise money and have an after party for when i graduate this year any tips . i love drawing


ivanamanu 5 years ago

hey what is this about


MAKALLAH 5 years ago

I WOULD JUST LIKE TO ASK WHAT IF YOU DONT KNOW WHAT YOU WANT JUST ASKING BECAUSE I WOULD LIKE TO MAKE NECKLACE TSHIRT BACKED GOOD AND TAKE PICTURES


little_Selle 5 years ago

hi im 13 years old, and i agree that this dosnt tell you much, i have started to sell sweets at my school, the teachers dont object, that is a good way to start upp a buisness, all you have to do is borrow some money/ if yoyu have it use it and buy lts of cheap sweeets then go inot school, and sell them for 10-30 p more, it seems that everyone wants to buy things your not allowed in schoool, like wham bars and refrechers, my top seller is coke tho...


euof 5 years ago

amwazin


Vannarey Jones 5 years ago

im 14 and me and my friend are starting a Jewelry business

and i was wondering if you had any tips


??? 5 years ago

me and my friends did a lemonade stand and st patricks day and made a whopping 60 euro!!!!


katty101 5 years ago

i'm elevn and i'm living in sydney australia and i would like to start a business doing make-up for girls parties or events. i would work for 5 dollars an hour and even bring my own make-up. i am willing to do trials or interviews with the parents and bring refences, a portfolio and that kind of thing. does anybody think this is a good idea?


Grace 5 years ago

Me and my friend are starting our own clothing business for 0-12 year old girls. Is this a good idea?


Maddy 5 years ago

I want to start a clothing business but i have no money, do you have any things that would help!!! :(


Robert Burns 4 years ago

Kids deserve to make money at a young age i did it 30 odd years ago


adam 4 years ago

thanks


Bubblegum 4 years ago

I need suggestions not how to start it


MnM's 4 years ago

i think those are really good ideas but you all suck eggs got it


basharshahrouri 4 years ago

hi am bashar shahrouri am 8 years old am in 2 grade


tae 4 years ago

hey who are yhu to tell hym to suck eggs......how about yh suck miii eggs and da frount part to


Drew 4 years ago

Hey I just got a job with my twin brother it is good but the houses are poor most of the time so I don't get paid but I have got one so far It is a life lesson


Theo Paphitis 4 years ago

Yes, I see the idea you try bringing up but to kid's researching, for their full potential, you must give an example of a successful business that has been started by a kid.


jahnae 4 years ago

how can kid make lots of money easy


Go tae!!!! 4 years ago

Hey tae good job for standing up to the stupid mnms guy :)


bubble pop! 4 years ago

how much can a child's business make before they have to report it IRS? In other words, do kids have to report their earnings or and is a licience required to sale stuff


justFab 4 years ago

THIS IS BULL SHITT


hippo chippo 4 years ago

i sell coke at school if u find it difficult to buy coke and make a profit go to your neares pound or dollar store three for a quid and then sell each can for a quid made 100 pounds in a week =-0


Asfa 4 years ago

Hi i am 10 yrs old and i want to know how to get a job. Can anyone tell me?


bob 4 years ago

im 20000000000000000000000000000000 yeas old


Hannah 4 years ago

im 12 and want to sell candy bars. is this illegal??? somebody needs to help us all and answer our questions!!!!!!!!!! WHOS WITH MEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????:)


dfbhjwkafbj 4 years ago

non of this stuff is what i want


Anita 4 years ago

Hello I am nearly 10 years old.I love pets and want to start a business to raise money for the SPCA do you have any suggestions?

Thanks


Anita 4 years ago

Hi Asfa,

I suggest you do pet sitting,dog walking and dog washing if you like animals.Or you could try making a market day.My school did that and raised enough money for each class to have iPads!Good luck!


girl 3 years ago

i want to start a buisness and im 9 about to be 10 andi i want to start a

beauty salon called Gabi's Beauty Salon.


Gabi 3 years ago

I want to sell art.

(:

(:

(:

(:

(:


brynn 3 years ago

i like it


kelly 2 years ago

Hi im kelly and my sister zoe, kelly wants to do a buisness about singing and zoe with dogs kellys 10 and zoes 9, any suggestions???


kelly 2 years ago

If I wasnt a singer I would be a chef any suggestions about business for that??????????????????????????????????? If so write ur suggestions down.............


Kelly 2 years ago

Hi gabi how about when your school has a car boot sale do some paintings and see how much they sell for......... give it ago x


kelz 2 years ago

Hay hannah try asking your school if u can do a stall for charity and sell them for charity and see how much u make. Hope I was a bit of help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Zoe rainbow 2 years ago

I realy want to start my own dog buisness like for example grooming,' washing and taking care of if there abandonded in the street


kelz 2 years ago

Who here likes music

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