Would You Give Your Teen a Business?

Would You Give Your Teen a Business?

About a year ago, I offered my teen a business.

She’d been heavily into hip-hop and dance at the time. She’d flown around Canada to attend workshops, had landed an instructor job at a studio and was very enthusiastic about this hobby. I wanted to encourage her and help her reach her ambitions.

So I casually dropped the offer.

If my teen did the homework of scoping out a place to hold classes and drafted up a business plan that looked fairly viable, I’d help her plan, promote and start her own dance studio business. I’d give her a website to help her market and take registrations, and she could do the rest. It wouldn’t be hard to get a good start-up going… a little décor, some dance accessories to sell, a good marketing plan and she’d be set.

Here’s what I was thinking: My teen could learn how to operate and manage an income-generating business based on something she loved to do anyways with a complete safety net (me) at her back. She could benefit from a wealth of valuable experience, tools and lessons that would set her up for life.

It wasn’t a crazy idea, either. I’d thought it out and figured it would cost about $4,000 to start her up, which really isn’t that much when it’s spread over several months on a credit card. She could even start paying me back within just a couple of months through sales and the income her students would generate.

I didn’t think much of the offer at the time, though – it just seemed like a logical thing to offer. I thought it only made sense to want my daughter to have business skills that would help her learn, grow and be self-sufficient later in life.

But I realized that not many people tend to think the same way I do. They don’t realize that they could offer their teens a great opportunity through letting them have the experience of planning and starting a small business.

Why not? If you have a son who loves guitar, he could probably turn his hobby into paying gigs with a good website that helps him market for weekend events around town. Your daughter could turn her makeup obsession into a consulting blog and suggest colors and styles to others.

Why do we wait so late in life to give our children beneficial learning experiences? We expect them to choose a career and go for it… but we don’t expect them to want their own business. Why is this? Entrepreneurship can become the basis of a successful future, if we’d encourage it more with our children as a viable career path.

Learning entrepreneurship can definitely give teens a valuable advantage for the future. They get a savvy edge that comes from figuring out how to attract customers or manage money. They learn how to create business plans and marketing campaigns. They learn how to find opportunity, how to recognize it and how to take advantage of it. They learn that with a business comes responsibility and that their hard work has a direct relation to their success.

And they learn pride – pride in the effort that goes into creating something and working towards its success.

Will they make mistakes? Of course. That’s expected. We all make mistakes and screw up, no matter how old or experienced we are. But our mistakes teach us persistence and determination. Resilience. Flexibility. And of course, what not to do next time and what we could’ve done differently.

Will they fail? Maybe. Investing in your teen means taking a risk, and you need to be ready to lose the money you put in. But it’s a calculated risk, not a whim. And it’s one worth taking because it could set your teen up for life.

It’s also no different than you taking your own business risks. You allow yourself those, right?

The experience of planning, preparing and starting a business teaches your teen important lessons that carry forth through his or her whole life – and that happens even if the business doesn’t work out or your teen loses interest. It’s a win-win either way, the way I see it. Successes, mistakes, failures and life lessons are the foundation of what makes us who we are as adults.

And the more we face life and meet it head on, the better we become as people.

I’m sure you’re wondering if my teen took advantage of my business offer – and the answer is that no, she didn’t.

But she thought about it for months. She wrote up a business plan and thought about what she’d do for promotion. She had marketing strategies in place and we had some great business discussions on ways to help her studio be successful. She had nearly everything ready to actually open up shop and turn a profit within just a couple of months.

Instead, she decided on another path, one that fit her future life goals even more. But she’d learned a great deal on how to plan, prepare and market her eventual services when she reaches the moment when she’ll be ready to do business.

I’m interested in your thoughts on the subject of teens and entrepreneurship. Would you give your teen a business? Do you think it’s beneficial for teens to learn business skills before becoming adults? How best would you prepare your teen for the future?

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

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  1. My daughter is 9 and she has her own webiste..even though its only about girlie type things..she is still growing an community. Plus its not an business and not making any money..just blogging about what cool and what’s going on with Justin Beber..

    I just think its good to help your kids understand that the internet is the future.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

    • Not sure if I’d let my kiddo blog at nine, but I do agree it’s good to let kids get close to the computer, in my opinion. It’s their world, so why not let them adapt to it as fast as possible? It doesn’t take away from the rest of life, either.

  2. My mom got me into teaching piano lessons when I was 16. I’ve worked ever since but only 2 of the past twenty years have been in a traditional office setting. I believe getting started at a young age was a huge part of why I’ve always been confident to turn what I enjoy doing I to a business. Wether it’s music, crafts or writing – it’s given me the flexibility to spend the kind of time I want with my kids while still keeping them fed.

    • Curious about your experience, Natalie – at 16, when you started teaching and working, what were you most afraid of, and what did you find the most difficult? What surprised you?

      (And awesome for you to be working in what you love!)

      • The hardest thing was getting the students. I was really shy then and even taking flyers door to door made me shake in my boots. I was just leaving them on the doors, not even talking to people until they called me, but still!
        I think I was most surprised at the results – that I had a marketable skill, that people would pay me for it. It went really well that year and paid for a trip to Europe.

  3. The best gift from a parent is the education and the best in it is practical education. I’ll surely nudge my son to try out business as early as possible.

  4. James, thank you for this refreshing view on teens and entrepreneurship. I’m 15 and an internet entrepreneur myself, having started 9miles Media, a web design firm staffed and managed by teens from around the globe.

    I absolutely agree that more emphasis should be placed on entrepreneurship as a career path. However, I think that it’s best if parents fill the role of a trusted mentor, rather than “giving” a business idea and funds to the teen. If it’s something the teen loves, and they have a desire to work for themselves, I believe they’ll naturally turn towards starting a business, without much prompting.

    As you said, “The more we face life and meet it head on, the better we become as people.

    Keep up the great work.

    • Hey Ben, very cool to see what you’ve done, and I wish you the very best of luck with that.

      I’m quite curious to hear your thoughts – what would be really helpful for a parent to do, knowing what you know now? If you were to guide parents reading, what would you tell them to try with their kids?

  5. I don’t have teens, but I’ve suggested teen family members read “Rich Dad Poor Dad” to learn what they don’t teach in school about business and passive income.

    The most important skill teens can learn is to be on the other side of the hiring desk. My niece said she wanted to get a job at a hair salon. I told her to ask the owner of the shop if she could work on weekends for free as an apprentice learning what owners know about business. I told her the owner would probably be so shocked that a teenager asked such a thing they’d go along with it.

    In classic teenager style, she didn’t ask, and works for wages, the highest taxed income there is. I tried.

    • *marks down Rich Dad, Poor Dad on reading list* Heard a lot about that one. Yet to read it. Soon to be done.

      Your suggestion to your teen was AWESOME. I’ve certainly recommended volunteering as a way to get a foot in the door, or prove skills, or pick up new skills… I mean, what better way to get what you want? Free for everyone – valuable for life.

      • I told her if she hates reading to get the audio book. I did everything short of buying the audio book for her, but she still didn’t do it. I feared if I bought her the audio book she would not listen to it because she had no financial stake in the plan. If she bought it with her own money, she’d be more compelled to listen. Damn thing is free at the library, too.

      • Fortunately I have an Aunt that encouraged me to Volunteer in a small Design Group the summer before my last year in college. It had never occurred to me how useful that experience could and would be. As a shy individual it helped me ease into the world of work while gleaning Design related experience.

        They ended up tracking me down about a year after I graduated. They had a rare job opening in their group. Since I was already familiar with the job, as well as them feeling that I was a good personality match, they offered me the job. I snatched it up. What an awesome feeling to have someone seek you out and offer you a decent job in your field of choice.

        It never would have happened without my Aunt’s positive input and making me aware of what advantages there are in Volunteering. So plant those seeds parents, mentors, and friends!

  6. Well, I wouldn’t “give” anyone any kind of business because I think that’s a recipe for disaster. But I would certainly finance them with the expectation for repayment, help them plan and guide them, as you did. Not all teens are interested in these things but those that are should be nurtured in every way possible. I think that teaching your kids the value of money and innovation are always good things. And if you can instill in them a desire to earn it, you’ve done them a great favor.

    • Oh, that’s curious – what sort of disaster do you think might come of a gifted business?

      • Being less likely to appreciate it and be as invested in its survival. How many times have we heard the story of the kid who inherits his father’s business only to run it into the ground two years later because he wasn’t ready for it or wasn’t as invested as before. In the end, he’s in debt, the family business is gone and those who depending on it for livelihood are out of luck.

        Specifically in a teenager’s case, I also think “Here, look! I’ve created this business for you!” sends the wrong message. Namely that the spirit of entrepreneurship is something someone can just give you and that starting a business isn’t something you have to work for. With the exception of the startup capital for a first grader’s lemonade stand, I think that child of mind who is interested in starting a business would be expected to pay back the seed money when the business becomes profitable and do the majority of the background work. In that case, I don’t think you’ve given them anything. They’ve earned every bit of it.

  7. If my parents had offered me that sort of opportunity, I would have jumped on it! My father did something fairly similar, admittedly — I’d worked on every level in his businesses (including management) long before I learned to drive and I think that experience made my life a lot easier.

    Having the skills to simply identify if a business idea is a good proposition has made my life so much better over the years. And the bookkeeping and other administration skills I picked up have landed me something of a niche as ‘that writer who can write about taxes and invoices.’

    • I’m actually hoping that this summer, my teen will become my VA – and there’s extra advantages to hiring your own kids. Tax write offs, government subsidies, and all sorts of good stuff. S’awesome!

      So’s bookkeeping. Learn bookkeeping, y’all teens.

      • Bookkeeping is a great micro business for a teenagers. My daughter did bookkeeping for one of my tax clients (an author no less!) using Quickbooks when she was 16 for about a year (the author moved away). It convinced my daughter that she could be an accountant and that’s what she is studying in college.

        She won two accounting scholarships based on essays that mentioned her work experience as a bookkeeper (Well, her grades helped too!). I think scholarship committees love to see tat a teenager ran their own business, even if it’s only a tiny one. This author was the only client my daughter had and that was OK; she learned a ton!

        Carol Topp, CPA
        Author Micro Business for Teens

  8. I was just thinking about my first “business” today – I began doing yardwork for my neighbors when I was 11. My parents did not push me to do it, I decided I wanted to collect comic books and this was a way to make money. By reaching out to my neighbors I not only built a book of business, I not only learned some business basics long before I knew what business was, I was able to negotiate higher snow shoveling, raking, and lawn mowing rates with my own parents!

    Looking back it was the best experience I could have had growing up. Every teen and young adult should learn how to get side jobs, it will help them in so many ways.

    • Would you believe I can’t find any teens to mow my lawn? Or babysit. Seems like these jobs need to pay WAY more than the going market value to be of interest to teens, sadly.

      And by the way, you hit a big one: Learning how to negotiate! That’s something teens use ALL their life. To their benefit, I might add 😉

  9. For sure, I would help my kid start a business — even before teen years, if wanted. I started my business career selling TV Guides door to door. Rather, I travelled door to door and signed people up to a subscription. Then I’d go down, buy the number of TV Guides I needed, and delivery them. I’d mark up $0.05 or something for delivery, and that would have been my profit. Start-up costs were basically zero.

    I think I was eight when I did this… It was the perfect complement to my weekly allowance.


    • Ooh, that’s a good one – marking up and charging for service is smart.

      My 6-year-old was spinning commercial jingles for her eventual vetrinarian practice – I figured, why not? So I started to ask her what services she’d have, who she’d sell to, what if this happened, or that… it was very cool to see her plotting out business stuff to keep customers (and cats!) happy at so young an age.

  10. I was 12 when I started my first business building & fixing computers in the area. The lessons I learned from those early days have completely transformed my life. Now days, I could not see myself in any other role than business owner.

    Great Post!

  11. When my youngest daughter was 13, she got really into baking. Then she got her older sister to take her to a little store/lunch counter place to see if they would like to buy her cakes to sell. They did. She created lists of ingredients she would need, figured out how much it would cost to make each caked, how much she would have to charge and so on. I encouraged her, but she did it all by herself. It didn’t last long – probably less than a year – but she made a little money and learned a whole lot.

    Pam Slim wrote a post a few months ago about having a “side hustle” that (if I remember correctly) was inspired by a teen: http://www.escapefromcubiclenation.com/2010/04/02/whats-your-side-hustle/

    One of my clients is running a thriving business that he started as a teen. Yes, I would definitely help my kids start businesses if they so desired.

    • Oh wow, blast from the past with the cakes… I used to bake bread for the village store. (I know, that sounds crazily ancient but it’s true!) I also had an egg run, thanks to a few chickens and a bicycle, and I tried the inevitable lemonade stand (that’s a crock. There’s no money in lemonade!).

      It’s awesome your kiddo planned it out like that too – cost and profit is important!

  12. Excellent post, here in Portugal we (teens) don’t have much the idea of creating a business by ourselves. Well, almost nobody, there’re some exceptions like me. And I really think that running a business is very important in our formation ! We learn so much, and we gain so much responsible thinking, it’s very very useful !

    Keep with the good work,
    João Pedro Pereira

    • (Desculpe se o Google mangles esta tradução!)

      É ótimo ver que você tem um espírito empreendedor! Definitivamente incentivar os seus amigos e lembrar-lhes que isso não importa de onde você é hoje em dia – a internet está em todo o mundo, e não existem fronteiras.

  13. I grew up watching my family operate a business. I know others who have grown up watching their father do the 9 to 5 at a large company. The differences in our perspectives are amazing.

    I think the most valuable lesson to learn was not about planning, financing, or operating a business. It was the simple idea that, yeah, I could do this! It was the realization that entrepreneurs aren’t this mystical class of people with golden ideas. They’re normal joes like me – that work hard and work smart.

    By the way, how could the investment be only $4,000? You must have found a steal on rent.

    • That’s a good point, the difference between owner/operator parents and company employee parents. I was lucky enough to have a Dad who did both, and I got a unique perspective indeed. My mum also did both… again, a unique experience, especially after my Dad passed on.

      From my experience, people whose parents were owner/operators seem to value/know hard work and effort to earn income and success. Not that others don’t, but I’ve noticed most seem to respect their parents for what they had to do to raise them – and interestingly, are usually always small business owners themselves.

      (Rent is cheap here – small town. The $4k covered both a few months and a full website.)

  14. I know that my current job and last position were greatly influenced by the fact that I was that teen who started freelancing in high school. My first web design clients were friends of my dad and now, 5 years later I know that the skills and business knowledge is what helped me land my past several full time gigs. If they’re responsible enough and driven it’s a smart move to at least give them the chance.

    • That’s an excellent way to get started – with friends and people you know, who’ll be willing to overlook the rough edges on business skills while giving you a chance to learn, grow and become a strong freelancer. Well done, you!

  15. I think giving teens a business is a great idea, it helps them see that they are responsible for their own employment and can turn their passions into a business. I was in a high school that forced all of us to start businesses in grade 9 as part of our school project and keep expense accounts and we did cos our grades depend on it. Most of us are now self employed and i wonder how much of that is because of our grade 9 experience

    • Now that’s pretty nifty – there are a few (not many!) school where I’ve heard they integrate business into the classroom that way, and I think that’s a valuable learning opportunity.

      It’s like math – tons of kids complain they don’t see how it can be useful… until you give them some cash to manage in a situation where they need to protect it. All of a sudden, lights go on!

  16. Terrific post! My ‘teen’ is actually about to turn 21 but she’s just joined up to become a Virtual Assistant and my right hand apprentice to my own Virtual Assistant firm and I’m thrilled she’s decided upon this path. I see no reason why teens can’t enjoy the freedom and flexibility of working for themselves, especially if they have a parent to mentor them. Going into the “family business” isn’t new, but today’s technology certainly takes things to a whole other level.

    • Good for both of you. And I think that “family business” has evolved so much that it’s become an appealing option for many. I know it’d be great for my teen to start learning some of the business – it’ll be hers one day, after all! (Unless kiddo number 2 gets it…)

  17. What a great topic! I definitely agree with you… I don’t have teens of my own, but I have still have some teenage brothers who I help any chance I get to work toward what they really want. They haven’t been too keen to start their own businesses, but I have certainly planted the seed. 😉

    I think a business is an excellent learning experience for a teen, and I often wish that I had had someone to encourage and help me to start one at that age. Talk about a great start and a great way to learn some important lessons, including teaching them to make their own success!

  18. Patrick Vuleta says:

    Business experience is important in the context of giving a young person options. It’s always a good thing to understand the benefits – and prices to pay, of a range of career options, ranging from micro-businesses to corporate careers.

    However, it’s important not to put business on a pedestal. I understand you weren’t saying this James, since you’ve encouraged your daughter to be what she wants.

    There are many benefits to being an employee. One of the most significant is it gets a foot in the door into niche markets. There have been many successful businesses started after following the employee-to-owner path. Conversely, much of what passes for generic business without any niche experience simply results in money spinning around in a whirlpool of nothingness. You have to have real value to add to be in business, and sometimes that value only comes after employee experience.

    At the end of the day, what’s important is giving someone the experience and broadened horizons to truly pursue their passions. However they do it should be up to them.

    • Now that’s true. Good point, you. There’s as many poor self-owned businesses as there are restrictive cubicle jobs, and there are equally excellent ones on both sides.

      I do find, though, that traditionally teens are encouraged to get a job at a restaurant, a fast food joint, etc etc. None are really encouraged to think up new ways of earning income on their own – and there are tons of opportunities there.

      But yeah – at the end of the day, it’s about providing a good foundation for the future and a broad life experience.

      • I’m glad Patrick mentioned this point, as I was about to. My parents have owned their own business on and off for many years (longer than my lifetime) and as they often work at home, I grew up significantly influenced by that (especially in the years I was homeschooled–we’re a very at-home kind of family, obviously).

        Watching my parents work, I saw many different models of being part of the workplace: my dad’s a business consultant and for most of the time I was growing up owned his own business and did side projects like website designs; now he works for the government doing similar things but with more reliable pay. My mother’s always worked a handful of teaching gigs at any given time at all sorts of places–businesses and universities and whatnot. I started working with my parents early on and had many businesses going: I was employed by them to do formatting in Word, my dad started foisting website jobs onto me, and then I did petsitting, dogwalking, and babysitting. I also made a line of miniature nativity scenes, which I sold independently and at a local craft store, and I also started gardening and doing yard work when I was old enough to drive to people’s houses.

        But I never tried to be an entrepreneur, I just wanted to make money. And as a kid (and I mean kid–7 or 8), it was way more feasible to make little kitschy crafts things and sell them, than to get a job waiting tables (ha!). I think it’s valuable for kids to know there are non-retail options out there, but what’s wrong with having work experience as an employee, too? Being an employee can teach you a lot about a business and sometimes point out what’s wrong with a business–sometimes spurring on innovations or better management ideas. Furthermore, businesses NEED employees. From the other end of things, it’s great to have teens willing to be employed.

        I also feel like entrepreneurship shouldn’t really be vaunted over other means of earning a living, because it’s really not for everybody. Many self-started businesses are stressful and can take away a lot of time from family or other interests. Both my parents do a lot of work at home, but they work all the time. My father’s been known to work for weeks at a stretch going to bed after 2 and waking up at 6–just because he suddenly has a lot of work to do, and has to do it to compensate for dry patches.

        The best thing you can do for teens, I think, is prompt them to follow their interests, whether or not that’s in an entrepreneurial fashion or not. Currently, my interest in horses has led me to working for a barn, which has actually given me a lot of opportunities, although yeah, I also clean up manure and earn a pretty minimal wage.

        My mom’s a professor: this isn’t entrepreneurial, but it’s satisfying work for her. If your kid’s really interested in reading, for example, should you encourage them to start some book-related business? Not necessarily. Maybe just encouraging them to read and let them develop that passion. It might lead to business, but it might also lead to being an inspiring teacher, or author, or something you haven’t imagined. Those are also worthy pursuits.

  19. I really enjoyed this post! My son is 11. He is a skater who is very interested in skater fashion. He aspires to start his own clothing line and skateboard design company. He already has a name and we have worked together on logos, designs, branding, etc., and I’m letting him do a majority of the work, just helping him along with details. Once he gets going, we will discuss the business aspect. I’m proud of him for having this ambition. *big grin*

    So to answer your question, yes I will do everything in my power to help him start a business, and give him advice but ultimately let him make the final decisions. Success or failure will depend on him.

  20. I agree with this post wholeheartedly. I often thought that when my 4 year old wants a new bike that instead of going out and buying it for her I would instead buy boxes of M&Ms or something and let her (with supervision) fund raise for it. It saves me money but, more important than that it teaches her how to create money for what she wants. Then if she ever gets a per hour job as a teen than I can point back to the times that she was able to hustle up $100 or so in a day of door-to-door.
    Great Post

    • Oh man, now I want to buy your kiddo a bike, LOL – there’s work and then there’s WORK! 😉

      • Going to add my two cents on this one, too: my parents couldn’t buy me a bike when I outgrew my trike, so I did, at age 5. I loved that bike so much that I kept riding it until I was 12 and had outgrown it by a few feet. Nothing’s more satisfying than something you’ve worked hard for.

  21. Hey James,
    We did something like this when our son was fourteen and our daughter sixteen. We started a business of marketing an aromatherapy necklace diffuser we were making. It was a crazy experience and has evolved from 2003 when our son made the web site (at 14) through my daughter’s design being used to raise money for Shinerama in university up to today.

    Being in a family business; the pride, the risks, the mistakes and handling them, was an empowering experience for them. They were a part of the team and enjoyed that. You can’t get that kind of experience in a school setting.

    Great post!

  22. Yes! Yes! Yes! What a great learning and bonding experience for both parent and child.

    I’m always shocked when I read a blog and discover it was written by a sixteen year old who knows way more than I do about business and blogging. It’s humbling, but makes you believe in the future.

    Best wishes.

    • Heh, one of our clients, Dan Miranda, came to us looking for a new site design for Knicks Vision. We talked back and forth for a few weeks as he put his plans together and I offered ideas.

      It wasn’t until the week the deposit came through that I learned he was 15. I thought he was in his early 30s! But he’d just been careful, cautious and asked the right questions to make sure he was making a good investment.

      Was awesome!

  23. This is soo true! I’m in my early twenties and finishing up with college. I’ve always known that I wanted to own my own business, and even went so far as to draft business and marketing plans, etc for several different viable businesses since I was about thirteen. (I’m currently getting a degree completely unrelated to what I want to do and the thought of how much money has been spent on it instead of my dreams kinda sickens me at times)

    My family gave me no support. If my folks had helped me along the way, then where I am today would probably be very different! When I have children, I want to promote their interests and entrepreneurship capabilities from a very young age. Definitely!

    • I bet you there’ll be a ton of stuff you’ll learn now in your seemingly unrelated area… that you’ll find yourself bringing into the areas of your passion later in life.

      My passion was equestrian events and psychology. And I’ve easily managed to use both in writing!

  24. I think it is a wonderful idea. I wish my parents had taught me about business. I also think that teens still believe that anything is possible and they don’t have the limiting self doubts that we tend to collect as adults. They are more primed for success than adults because of they still have those feelings of invincibility.

    • Oh, for sure. That’ll never change – tis nature!

      And honestly, I’m GLAD that teens don’t have limiting self-doubts. More power to them. (Maybe more sense as well, but that’s another story, eh?)

  25. I will absolutely give my kids a business! When they’re this age, they will definitely have the same opportunity you graciously offered your daughter. You rock. Interestingly, it is rare to think of running a business as a means of self-development. Even within the small business community where I work, that attitude is unusual. Most people think of entrepreneurship as a “tough racket” and “risky”. How you can get into business while harboring this type of belief is beyond me. Is it a MYSTERY why 95% of businesses fail? Not really. Not at all.

    You seem to see it as an opportunity to LEARN, to develop character. And if it’s successful, you just might be able to make a great living too. But regardless, when you approach business with the attitude you describe, you build wealth, regardless of the outcome.

  26. Hey James

    Good on you sir.

    Earlier this year I was called up to my daughters school. She was caught sell sweets on school grounds (funnily enough, I used to do the same thing).

    Anyway the teachers didn’t like it one bit. When I challenged them as to why they were so against it they told me that a school is for learn how get a job. To which I replied. If you taught people how to build business and generate their own wealth, there would be a lot more successful people in the world. (Im not liked much at her school).

    Chat soon

    • I burst out laughing when I read this a few minutes back. It’s still making me laugh, hehehe. Such DELINQUENCY!

      (More power to your kiddo. You go, girl.)

    • Dwayne, that’s awesome! It’s such a pity that schools generally only gear students towards conventional jobs. Perhaps if math classes helped students learn small business management skills, there would be less fear in the prospect of being an entrepreneur.

      James, I’ve loved your article and the comments it’s generated! There is so much food for thought here! I have 3 girls, aged 14,15 & 16, all soon to embark on their first jobs. This article has made me broaden the box a little bit. Hmm!

  27. James – check this place out – they rock!


  28. Hi James,

    For the price of college, many people could start 5 businesses! Somehow we’ve convinced ourselves that we or our parents need to be $150,000 in the hole to be employable. How did that happen?

    Hey, why not help your child out? My dad’s dad helped him and he went on to be quite successful. My dad helped me get started, too. It’s just seed money, so I see no harm in it.

    Back in the day, entrepreneurs were quite young! They ran with their ideas and didn’t need all kinds of degrees, titles and certificates. Sometimes, I think credentials can work against us, make us question if something can work. After all, someone did these things first … how did they learn? They got an idea and ran with it.

    Fun post! G.

    • I have no idea how people who live in the States manage for schooling costs. Here in Quebec, it costs $390 a year for college, plus maybe about $2,000 for books. For university (which for us comes after college), tuition is $4,000 a year (plus books).

      So maybe $20,000 all said and told (not including living expenses, if there are some), which is still no small beans, but a long way off from $150k, which is a small HOUSE!

  29. This is precisely the reason why I completely changed my business two years ago. I wanted to learn and master a way of business that I could teach my girls as they grew up. I was building a business (before they were born) that I was thinking I would pass on to them. Then they were born and my thoughts of the “right” business model changed.

    I don’t want to give me kids my business, but I do want to give them the knowledge, skill, confidence, and example to create a profitable business around whatever drives them.

  30. My father had a side business (all fire fighters do) and NEVER ONCE shared any of his experiences or knowledge on how to run that business. I still regret not getting the benefit of his experience. I think he figured we weren’t interested or that we would all go on to getting good jobs working for “the man”. I’ve had jobs since I was 13 and finally took the leap to self employment 4 years ago. Those lessons would have saved me a lot of hard learning.

    Should you do this with your teen? Absolutely! The days of a comfy job with some big corporation and retiring on your 401k are over. The sooner they learn these skills, the better they will be equipped for their success.

  31. Carol Anne says:

    I’m teaching my 12-year-old to be my personal assistant. She’s learning paperwork skills and attention to detail. Any forms that come into the house — it’s her responsibility to fill it out to the best of her ability. She works with me to fill in the gaps and I sign off on the end product.

    It gives her a real sense of satisfaction to do this “adult” work, and she does a great job.

  32. Really cool idea! My hope is to be able to create a .com for my kid’s hobbies and give them a place to blog and if they get hits? All the google adsense $ is going into their college fund 🙂

  33. I found that not everybody can be an entrepreneur it takes dedication and ability to take work home with you and think about your business almost all the time. The focus and self drive as well as the ability to handle set backs and disappointments without giving up are enough to test even the strongest willed people.

  34. Yep. I did give my kid a business. I run a business that watches other peoples pet while they travel (out of my home.) My 14 year old provides camp clean up. He washed, does pawducures, and combs out the campers before they go home. He makes his own schedules and keeps track of who needs what when-he also pays me back for supplies. When he can drive in two years he will offer clients transportation for their dogs to camp. He has his own banking account.
    Its a wonderful experience. He has developed excellent people skills, time management (still working on this–but who isn’t) and understand the important of being reliable.
    Just offering your daughter the opportunity showed a vote of confidence more kids never get from their parents.


  35. It’s a great idea – she’s damn lucky to have a dad like you.

  36. The funny thing is, I don’t have teens, but I registered my own business within 4 months of my 20th b-day. It was a now or never situation, since I’m still living at home and I agree that the support of my parents was a really nice back-up!!
    I did it all on my own money, altho, being a photographer, it wasn’t that much, but it was a change I had to take and my parents agreed! Right now I’m working towards the 2nd anniversary of my business and I’m glad I took this change. It doesn’t mean that I will succeed, but the path I took was a great experience! I’m far from my goals, but I plan on making some of them happen this year!
    My first few months were not the best way to start up a company, but I learned on the way and changed my workflow many times now!
    I gotta say: Give your kid this change! It’s an experience your kid will take with him for the rest of his life!

  37. What a great move!

    This is what I call an investment. A real one! You can’t loose with this kind of decision. The two of you, even if the project fails, will learn something. About the business. About the the confidence, the planification. About the visualisation, the ability to market a product or service, the value of money, etc.

    If I can do the same thing with Aby when she’ll get older, I’ll definitly try this great project! 😉

  38. Yes,It would be very nice if kids ll connect with internet at very small age.They ll learn so many tactics about blogging or other ways to make online till when they ll reach at 20th.But I think kids need so many guideline because you know internet is the world in which you can grow as well fall.So we should do help to our kids to grow in a right direction.
    Thanks for the great article as well as helpful discussion.

  39. James,

    I did something similar…but different. I gave my 7 year a website on his birthday.

    What I want to do is to get him used to being able to create content on the Internet – and gradually we’ll get to the stage of monetizing that website. Once we get to that stage he’ll have to ‘earn’ his pocket money via his website. I’m hoping that if we really get rocking and rolling now that by the time he’s 15 or 16 he’ll (a) have a reasonable amount of money in a savings account from the website, (b) have a good understanding of the psychology of websites and content creation (we’ve started with video and youtube!) and (c) he’ll actually have some serious skills that he can take with him into the wide world when he’s old enough to go his own way.

    So far we’ve not done nearly enough on it – but when the Course that I’m currently teaching finishes that should change.

    It will be interesting to watch how it pans out over the next few years….



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