These days, it's easy to be a CEO by 25.
And, as some of the examples in our slide show below prove, kids start churning out viable business ideas well before they hit double digits.
Which means you'll want to encourage any budding business talents early.
Whether or not your kid grows up to be the next Mark Zuckerberg, all the qualities entrepreneurs possess—like leadership, idea generation and perseverance—will help him in any future career.
We spoke with Duane Spires, CEO of Extreme Youth Sports, an organization that provides after-school programs and summer camps that focus on sports, academics and entrepreneurship. He gave us this five-step process to get your kid's business-savvy wheels spinning:
1. Help Him Develop Goals
Sit your kid down and have a conversation about what's important to him. Even a 5-year-old can talk about dreams and goals. Ask him questions like, "What would you like to do for a job when you grow up?" After you talk about it, have him write his goals down on paper, or, if he's too young to write, draw them. Older kids can even go on the internet and Google images of what they'd like to do. Combine all of the ideas, writings, drawings and printed photos to create a vision board to help him actually "see" what his goals are. (Find our suggestions on how to put together a vision board here.) Regardless of whether or not your kid's dream is to be an astronaut or a ballerina, creating a vision board teaches about planning for the future, committing to goals and having the discipline to not give up.
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2. Pick a Category
The next step is bridging the gap between the "idea" and setting it in motion. "At our camps, after we have kids create vision boards, we start talking about the different types of businesses they can create to help meet some of those goals from step one," says Spires. Brainstorm with your kid about the different types of businesses she might be interested in. Spires says kids tend to relate well to three over-arching types:
- Service-based, or your typical car wash, dog walking, etc.
- Product-selling, as in making arts and crafts, baking cookies, etc.
- Inventing, in which kids come up with ways to solve problems they come across in everyday life (I'm too short to reach the top of the shelf, my peanut butter and jelly sandwich gets soggy before lunch, etc.)
Have her write down all her business ideas and then have her pick the one that speaks to her the most.
3. Develop the Idea
This is the really fun part, says Spires. Encourage your kid to be creative in coming up with the specifics of the "business." Talk about what he'd like to name it, what his tagline should be, how he'd like to advertise it (will he be making flyers to hang up around town? Bringing pamphlets to his after-school activities?) and who he should advertise to. Ask him to think of a few people in his life who would be interested in his product: Mom, Dad, Grandma, Cousin Stan, etc.
4. Market the Business
Explain to your child that in order to have a successful business, he'll need to find customers. Help him design flyers or create posters to deliver or hang up around town. Older kids can create websites (Weebly and Wordpress are great, free options). Discuss what the price points should be for the product or service, and teach your kid how to research what similar businesses charge, either by doing some searching online or by asking friends and family.
5. Extend the Leadership
Once your kid has set up the basics, she can delve into the logistics of owning an actual company by "hiring" friends to work for her and assigning them roles. "One thing we have the kids do is write down the rules that their friends have to follow to work for them, and that's always a fun activity," said Spires. "It gets them thinking about how to deal with real employees, while at the same time developing leadership skills and thinking about responsibility."
Once you've done all the legwork, your kid could actually have a great business idea on his hands!
For a dose of inspiration, we found six kid entrepreneurs who are truly incredible! Click on the first slide to start the slide show.
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