Let’s face it: As much as we try to make everything equal for our children these days (yes, honey, everyone gets a trophy at the Little League championship!), there are some kids who just stand out.
Take this guy, for example: Real-life Doogie Howser Akrit Jaswal performed his first surgery at the ripe age of seven. And then there’s Nick D’Aloisio, the 17-year-old British programmer who sold his app Summly to Yahoo for tens of millions of dollars this past March.
So what do these kids possess to make them so outstanding? Well, genius-level IQs, for starters. But not every entrepreneur wunderkind is a mini Einstein.
We talked to four teens who—with a combination of smarts, creativity and passion—are changing the world one good idea at a time. Better still? They told us how your kid can too.
The Intrepid Entrepreneur: Fraser Doherty
At the tender age of eight, Fraser Doherty set his sights on being an entrepreneur. “I started out selling cakes at school, and then sent the money that I made to Greenpeace,” he says. “I even raised chickens once in my parents’ suburban garden, and sold the eggs to neighbors!”
Then, when Doherty was 14, his grandmother taught him how to make jam using her secret recipe—one that substituted grape juice for sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Doherty, naturally, began selling his finished product to friends and church members, eventually making a thousand jars a week. Five years later he was the 19-year-old head of SuperJam, a million-dollar jam empire that stocks 130 supermarkets in the United Kingdom.
But it’s not money that drives this entrepreneur. “I always saw starting a business as a way to make a positive impact on the world,” he says. His role model? Body Shop founder Anita Roddick. “The fact that she gave all her money to charity says everything about her,” says Doherty, now 24. “I’d like to run my business that way.”
Doherty’s Advice to Wunderkind Wannabes: “Start small. You don’t need to quit school, borrow money or jump in at the deep end. If you don’t take crazy risks, you’ve got nothing to lose!”