Hot Dog! Kids Can Be Entrepreneurs Early

I know a young couple who wants to start a sideline food business. Good for them!

First, they want to experiment by running a hot dog cart at a few summer festivals to test their ideas. Great strategy. These two young entrepreneurs are thinking, researching, starting small.  I wonder if either of them ran a lemonade stand as a youngster?

Do you have kids who have a penchant for business? Recognizing and encouraging a young entrepreneur’s abilities can be hard to do.  Many kids show entrepreneurial tendencies around age 9-11. Many consider setting up the traditional lemonade/drink stand on their street corner. They need encouragement to perhaps go beyond the ordinary. Parents, now is your time to step up and shine.

Rather than have the conversation end with, “Nah, we can’t do a lemonade stand in the middle of winter…” use these five helpful tips to encourage your budding business owners. If you want a book to help illustrate your points, check out Entrepreneur Extraordinaire.

1)    Get going.

There are dozens of businesses youth can start (many will get them off the couch). Consider walking dogs, growing vegetables to sell, mowing lawns, weeding, repairing bicycles, and becoming a birthday party clown or mother’s helper. What does your kid like to do? Did you say video games? Then why not transfer those skills into earning money?  How about helping all those too-busy parents who take hours of video of their kids but don’t have time to create the “memory” project/book/video?

2) Think big; Start small.

Exploring potential is part of business planning, so let ideas flow freely and set goals. Perhaps your brainstorming will get started during a car ride or even a television commercial. Capture the moment! After the conversation gets started, hone in on some particulars. Be careful to point out realistic start-up needs for time and money. Remember, learning is as important as making money. Learning how to make a budget is a good activity. For example, if your son is thinking about growing pumpkins for sale, maybe now is a good time to look at seed catalogs and price other supplies. How about charting a timeline?

3)    Find mentors.

Entrepreneurs often discover mentors among parents, family friends or relatives who run businesses. Help kids connect with local business owners you know. Make it a fun adventure. At a loss for mentors? Start with your local librarian.

4)    Talk ‘em up.

Kids, like most of us, thrive on encouragement. Recognize their ideas, out-of-the-box thinking, and successes. Perhaps you can even give a “hard work bonus” as a reward. The point is, you can build a budding entrepreneur’s confidence, self-esteem, and ability to succeed.

5)    Everyone stumbles.

Though it’s not easy to watch, failure usually precedes success. It’s okay for kids to make mistakes. Entrepreneurs develop resilience, tenacity, ability to evaluate risk, and a solid work ethic. So what if no one buys the lemonade? Some of the fun is in the making.


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