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Help your child start their own small business

If your child shows an interest in starting a business, here are a few ways to help make that experience a success.

Is your child a budding entrepreneur? Here’s how to get those young company ideas off the ground, with advice from one of the world’s wealthiest teen entrepreneurs.

When most of us think of kids beginning their own businesses, we probably imagine a cute lemonade stand, maybe a bake sale or two, or maybe mowing lawns for neighbours to earn some extra money.

As a child, Alina Morse had her eyes set far higher. When she was nine years old, she founded Zolli Candy, America’s fastest-growing candy firm. Since entering the candy business, her resume is enough to make most adults, including Bill Gates, feel like underachievers.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the more noteworthy highlights: Morse is the youngest person to have ever graced the cover of Entrepreneur Magazine. Inc. Magazine awarded her company the Fastest-Growing Candy Company in America in 2020, following a phenomenal 865% growth rate. Sales for Easter 2021 alone were up more than 200%.

Morse has also received interest from Hollywood, having recently collaborated with NBC Universal’s Dreamworks on the film Boss Baby: Family Business. She’s given a TED Talk, was the youngest keynote speaker at Advertising Week, and InStyle Magazine named her one of 50 Badass Women Changing the World, with Michelle Obama (who invited Morse to the White House twice for the annual Easter egg roll).

Morse, now in high school, regards her business as merely an after-school activity. But in Morse’s case, that small extracurricular has made her one of the world’s ten wealthiest teenagers. Her company’s retail sales were $6 million in 2018, $10 million in 2019, and $12 million in 2020. After all of that, feel free to take a breather. It’s quite a bit. Of course, not all children have Morse’s drive and tenacity. But if you want to help your child start their own business, we’ve gathered some advice from folks who have been there and done that, including Morse herself.

Make a note of it

Make a list of your child’s ambitions. Morse tells parents that doing so is critical to achieving success in any field, but especially for parents of prospective entrepreneurs. “When you put pen to paper and write down your child’s goals, you are significantly more likely to motivate them and help them attain their dreams,” adds Morse. “It also serves as a road map for your child to know where they’re going.”

The venture should be inspired by your child’s interests

Your child’s business must be something they are enthusiastic about in order for them to enjoy the experience and not feel like it is work. Remember, this is your child’s dream, not your dream. If they prefer cooking or baking, a small catering business could be one option. If they have a passion for dogs or cats, starting a pet-walking service could be a good fit. They could write and self-publish a book if they enjoy writing. If they are intelligent and enjoy assisting other children, why not help them start a tutoring business? If they are a painter or an artist, they can sell their work online or at shows. The list is endless, but the goal is to match your child’s business with their interests.

Make a detailed business plan

Jen Bradley’s five children (aged 13, 11, 8, and 6 at the time) launched The Lemonade Way, a lemonade stand, a few years ago. Jen claims the company, which they ran in front of a local supermarket store, was inspired by National Lemonade Day. The kids sold lemonade and chocolate chip cookies for that one day, and not only did they receive an extraordinarily enthusiastic reception from the public, but they were also able to donate over R20 000 to the Autism Research Institute because of their earnings.

Bradley’s children wanted to continue their business at the local farmer’s market after National Lemonade Day had passed. But before Bradley would let them commit to the local market, she asked her children to create a “game plan” outlining exactly how the business would operate. When Karen Aronian’s children, Jack and Laurel, wanted to start a homemade raisin business (Miners Raisins) and a homemade popsicle business (Miners Popsicles), she, too, insisted on a detailed business plan.

A business plan will hone your young entrepreneur’s aims and should define what products or services the business will offer and how it will generate a profit. Determining prices with your children ahead of time will help you avoid pitfalls and set goals to keep you on track.

Form a group

Many children enjoy sports and begin participating in them at a young age. Therefore, the following advice should be simple for young minds and aspiring entrepreneurs everywhere to grasp: Business is also a team sport. And, whether you’re a parent assisting your child in getting started or a youngster who has already begun creating a business plan, you’ll want to assemble the ideal team of people to support your child’s company’s endeavours.

Give your child assistance, but don’t take over their business

It’s wonderful to aid your children in starting their own businesses, but you’ll also want to know where to draw the line in terms of assistance and support. In the case of Bradley and her children’s lemonade stand, she and her husband were pleased to help their children get started, but they also made conscious decisions about what not to do along the way. That included not throwing lots of money into the business and not sacrificing family time for “business time”.

Teach your children how to think like business owners

There are numerous characteristics that all successful entrepreneurs share. Begin teaching your children about these characteristics at a young age so that they can adopt them as a way of life. Encourage your child to be creative and think beyond the box.

Teach them goal setting and divide goals into manageable, bite-sized bits. Allow your child to take risks to understand failure is a significant part of success.

Lastly, show them how to solve problems and brainstorm about the advantages and drawbacks of various circumstances.  

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