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Encouraging your Teen to Become an Entrepreneur

It’s another Expert Briefs, where I ask really smart business owners to answer your burning questions.

This week I asked our panel of experts…

“This one is for those of you with older kids. What are you actively doing to encourage their entrepreneurial spirit – and increase their financial IQ?”

I think you'll like the ideas presented below.


connieConnie Ragen Green of Affiliate Marketing Case Studies says:

My step-kids are so old they have kids of their own now, and we have encouraged them to be entrepreneurial since they were little tikes.

My oldest grandson is seventeen now and has a variety of projects he is involved with. This includes some niche websites, but also businesses he has created to help offline companies where he lives. He has aspirations of being a film maker, so he makes videos and sets up YouTube channels for his clients. He does so well that he paid for one third of his new car a few months ago, making me and his parents extremely proud.

As far an increasing his knowledge of finances, he reads books and magazines on this topic, as well as taking courses geared for young entrepreneurs at the local community college. I've even learned some valuable things from the information he has shared with the family.


Dr. Mani of How to Set Goals says:

The key to entrepreneurial success, imho, is pursuing something with passion which will add value to others. The money typically follows, but the desire for profit is a good motivator to get past the hurdles and pain of starting out.

My teenager doesn't get an allowance – she gets tips, advice and guidance on projects that can help her raise the money she needs for whatever purpose is top of mind at the moment.

I still recall with amazement when she was 5, wanted a Barbie doll (Princess Anneliese, anyone?), and when promised a ‘matching contribution' to what she raised, coming up with the staggering sum of Rs.1250 – in just 5 days! (She crafted hand-made cards, and sold them at “extortionate” rates to grandparents, btw)

The philosophy of “singing for your supper” continues to this day, with very encouraging results. Baking and writing are the new card-making – and prices are more “real” 🙂

We discuss money and finance, both in the abstract and in terms of tangible impact it can have – on lifestyle, on attitude, on belief systems.

Nothing is “out of bounds” in these discussions, and by being forced to justify expenditure choices/decisions, we (parents and teen) both have gained better insight into financial/fiscal responsibility.

EncouragingTeens to Become Entrepreneurs

Another technique we started (but didn't sustain) is the 3 envelope method I learned in a guide.

You divide the monthly allowance (what's that?! we replace it with project profit) into 3 equal parts, to go into 3 envelopes… labeled ‘spend', ‘save' and ‘give'.

The first is to enjoy now. The second is to invest (an opportunity to teach investment principles here). The third is to donate to worthy causes and those in need.

In the few days we did practice it, the impact was dramatic – especially in the last category. Imagine a 7 year old buying her favorite candy bars… to distribute to street urchins near a temple. The joy and smiles on those little faces is priceless… as is the knowledge that my little one learned a very precious life lesson.


Tiffany Lambert of Squidoo Quick Commissions Guide says:

Kids are funny! I have three kids – ages 20 (Dylan), 13 (Shawn) and 8 (Scarlett). They would LOVE to have the money I make, and they get all inspired to launch something, but they only want the tip of the iceberg – not the hard work involved.

I think part of the problem is that during my hard working, struggle years, they were too young to see the elbow grease I had to put in just to earn enough to pay the bills. They see it as “automated” now.

The other day we went swimming at my Mom’s and (as a kick in the pants to my Mom), I said, “While I’ve been swimming for 2 hours, I’ve earned $343 in my PayPal.”

But that automation was from previous working hard to develop residual income streams. So what my kids will do is get all excited about Squidoo or a blog and they’ll launch it, post content for a little while, and when the money’s not there, they quit, get bored, etc.

Now Dylan did see some success a few years ago. He wanted an air soft rifle that cost $300 and I wasn’t going to do that. So he created three lenses on Halo – the video game. They ranked SO high because he was a gamer and spoke their language.

He asked me to sell them to my list and I did – he got $100 per lens, enough for that rifle. Right now, he works at a local restaurant/bakery in catering and he’s very happy with his pay raise – but what he makes in a month is what I make in maybe half a week.

He thinks it’s insane, but yet he doesn’t sit down and say, “TEACH ME!” I think kids have to do their own thing for awhile and I hope someday he’ll want to learn. Every time he complains about co-workers or a boss or a customer, which is rare for him, I do nag him about not having those problems as an entrepreneur.

Shawn has his own gaming blog. He’s diligent about developing content. He was so proud of his header – he did it himself – but it needs a professional one. It also needs some sort of monetization strategy other than the AdSense on the sidebar.

But I don’t have time to go through and link to each game. He created this site: gamingscout.com and he enlisted the help of two of his classmate friends to create content. They review games they like, etc. Shawn initially wanted to be a game tester, but I explained that he wanted to follow in John Reese’s footsteps and launch his own gaming company. 🙂

Scarlett wants a fashion website – but I haven’t launched it yet for her. She wants all sorts of fancy stuff I have no clue how to help with, like games for girls, etc. And I know she’ll be disappointed if it’s not earning the same kind of money my sites do.

All three of my kids are watching my “Debt Dragon” journey. Although I’ve been earning six figures for awhile now, we spent beyond our means – and they’re learning about that, about paying cash, etc. My oldest is already a saver and an earner – not a wasteful spender.

It takes time, and we can’t get frustrated when our kids don’t have the same entrepreneurial spirit that we have. They’re just kids. But I do hope one day they learn the ropes so that they’re never at the mercy of the job market.


LainLain Ehmann of Crafting Your Business, Step-by-Step says:

I've asked my kids to pick a topic they're excited about and we've been creating content — blog posts, videos, etc. They each have a WordPress blog they toy around with, and I'm actively helping them learn the skills I wish I'd known.

Also, just exposure to entrepreneurial ideas helps a ton. We watch “Shark Tank” and talk about the investors' decisions and the pitches. We also listen to business podcasts together. Not every day, and not religiously, but enough so they are familiar with the ideas and terms.


kellyKelly McCausey of Solo Smarts Podcast says:

I started working at home when my son was eleven and I remember how impressed he was when I started to ‘make money out of nothing' at the computer. As my online success grew and I said goodbye to the day job, he was proud of me.

We're both stubborn and a bit rebellious which can make working for others difficult. I thought for sure he would follow in my footsteps and pursue self employment but that hasn't happened yet.

Every now and then I try to sow seeds of interest. I know he has what it takes to be a solopreneur like me – I just don't see the hunger yet and to be honest, that frustrates me a little. I can't ever remember a time in my life when I didn't want ‘more' from my work.

This is where I remind myself that he's young, there's plenty of time for that spark to develop. When and if it does, I'll be so happy to lend support. Until then I'll just keep building and improving my own business – making this self employed life look GOOD from the outside 😉


NicoleNicole Dean of .. here! .. says:

I  have a 16 year old son. He’s smart. But, he can be a slug.

Seriously. Like a video-game playing slug who doesn’t shower.

We’ve done a few things to help him to have a productive summer – while still having time for fun – and hopefully learning a few things about productivity, scheduling, intelligent financial IQ, and entrepreneurship. (Which, in my opinion are topics that are seriously lacking and under-taught in schools.)

Here are a few ideas for you to steal from me.

1. Daily Task List.

My kids, as I’ve mentioned before in my “Surviving Summer with Kids at Home” have a weekly task chart broken up by days.

It’s just an excel spreadsheet that they check off every day as they are accomplishing their tasks.

If my son takes it upon himself (takes initiative) to complete his tasks daily without being reminded – or comes up with extra tasks to do – he gets a cash bonus. However, if I have to ride and remind him to do things from his list, he gets nothing extra – just room and board.

2. Learning Basic HTML Skills.

My son is currently going through the CodeAcademy.com training. (It’s free.) It’s a great program and he’s picking it up pretty quickly.

My husband wanted to pay him hourly to do the CodeAcademy training but I flat out refused that. Instead we are going to give him a big bonus at the end, if he can demonstrate thorough knowledge of coding when he finishes.

(Translation: If he takes his time and initiative to go through the course, he will be rewarded – no matter how long it takes him. To me that's much more of an entrepreneurial attitude than an employee mindset. Don't you agree.)

3.Reading.

As part of my kids' daily tasks they must read a “mom approved” book. My 16 year old reads two hours a day and my younger daughter reads 45 minutes a day.

Mom approved books are getting much more practical over the years. We rotate fiction with a non fiction book, like “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” or a book about “Teen Entrepreneurs” or a Steven Covey book about Time Management – all good stuff that I wish I had been asked to read at a younger age.

Considering the kids have reading on their lists, they have to do it before technology comes on. Pretty sneaky, right?

4. Exercising his Most Important Muscle.Both of my kids also doing Lumosity.com – which is a brain training program. I’m doing it, too, and we’re competing on our progress. I'm pretty impressed at our progress. My memory has improved tremendously already.

Your turn.
What are you doing to encourage independent thought and initiative and financial knowledge in your teens?

Best of luck.
Nicole

PS. I'm getting so many good ideas reading this that I'm thinking this should be a Kindle book. What do you think? Want more of these ideas?

I adore comments! Please share your thoughts.

  • Tiffany Lambert
    Reply

    Oh Nicole my kids are about to hate you. LOL! Reading and coding here we come!

  • Sharyn Sheldon
    Reply

    I have 3 children with completely different personalities when it comes to entrepreneurial spirit and finance.

    One is relatively lazy and just likes to spend money, though at least he works very hard in school. He’s a tennis player, so last year we split the cost of a stringing machine. Now he strings rackets for a few of the other kids on his team. He doesn’t earn a ton, but it pays for all his broken strings (since he can restring them himself) and he gets a little spending money.

    His twin brother is the definition of an entrepreneur, and we’ve had absolutely nothing to do with it. He was born with a strong independent streak (literally, from day 1), total stubborness, and lots of ideas. Oh wait! I’m not supposed to call him stubborn. It’s called perseverance when you’re older :). He started with ebay (selling everything that wasn’t nailed down in the house), created a blog (which really wasn’t his thing), built a fiverr-clone website (sold for $1700 on flippa), and is now involved in 2 ventures. One is building a website around green energy, and the other is website templates. He’s also going to teach himself mobile app development so he can help the teacher at the high school teach the brand new class next year. I guess he doesn’t trust the teacher to do a good job ;). Our main focus with him is trying to get him to focus on fewer projects at a time, and get good enough grades to get into the college he wants. Yes, he does have to make time to study even though he’d rather not.

    My third, and oldest, is headed to college in just a few short weeks. She’s not entrepreneurial, but I’ve enlisted her help in my own business with editing, writing and research. This way she can earn some good money to spend and invest, develop some marketable skills, and even have a little work experience to put on her resume. She also has to learn to track her own time and see what it can be worth. I’m really going to miss her help!

    The idea with all of my children is to encourage them to develop new skills and discipline, but also take advantage of their natural strengths. So far, so good 🙂

  • Iris Johnson
    Reply

    Such a timely post! I like everyone’s approach with their children on this topic.

    I was just talking to my 15-year old daughter today about being an entrepreneur and learning as much as she can about marketing and running a business. She enjoys video games. I was encouraging her today to consider something in that area, like gaming designer or something. CodeAcademy.com would be an excellent place to start!

    My 20-year old is going into her 3rd year in college as a Marketing major. I’ve been encouraging her to really consider building a business online NOW!

    But, after all is said and done, all we can do is hope that they will make the best decision and find success and years of enjoyment in whatever they choose to do.

  • Pam
    Reply

    My son, also 16, is working thru codeacademy.com this summer as well (in between video games and his job at Publix). He is also taking a summer virtual high school course which is all about webdesign. Its premise is that you work for a web design company so you go thru all phases of the design. He is loving it. He also has had a Halo gaming blog up for a while now but has not done anything with it lately.

    My other son 14, also had a few blogs which he did not keep up with but at the moment I am working on a blog with him. He went thru some deep issues over the past year or so and this website is a culmination of some of the therapy that has helped him thru. our site is thebirddiaries.com. we both do posts and pictures, tweeting, etc.

  • Christine Holroyd
    Reply

    Charlotte is 8. We have 4 money boxes labelled : iPad, Short term savings, Long term savings & Charity. iPad is for apps. If it’s more educational, then I’ll often purchase those. Short term is to spend on whatever Charlotte wants (within reason), Long term for her bucket list. I’m wanting to rework things a bit and still working on ideas for her Entrepreneurial skills so I love reading these sorts of blogs. I give her $10 AU per week. It was $5 but that didn’t cover everything.

    I don’t have her work for her money but She’s very helpful anyway and doesn’t hesitate if I ask her to do something (for the most part :-/ )but have started asking Charlotte to buy her own food if it’s something I’m not wanting to purchase.

    It’s all a work in progress. Thanks for the information here.

  • Sara
    Reply

    I try to encourage my boys to start something but they have the dream of money without the follow through. i.e. they want the benefits without the work

    I guess I’m a little to blame for that as they grew up seeing me work hard online with very little financial success. Now that I am taking more action and just ignoring my fear and doing it anyway, the financial part is catching their attention.

    Both my boys are pretty computer savvy and they would rock this content creation world but it has to come from them not from my nagging.

  • Hemang Shah
    Reply

    Don’t have an older kid, yet. My son is 16 months now. I did sort of “bring up” my cousin who’s now 18 or so. We come from a family of businessmen so entrepreneurship and financial IQ are discussed in the family. I’ve gently probed him to pick up app programming for Android or iOS. He saw me develop my app on movie names (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/duffer-hollywood-premium/id424384470?mt=8) and was pretty impressed with it. He’s seen how it can generate passive income as well give you an opportunity to do the work you love.

    He’s studying to be an engineer and can accomplish anything if he sets his mind to it. I am happy that he realizes that there’s no such thing as “Easy Money” and you have to put in the efforts to get results.

  • Samantha Angel
    Reply

    On financial IQ, since we have 6 people living in the house our food bill is one of the biggest bills we have, so I regularly show them how to save money by having them help make a menu for the week, seeing what we have and what we need, then checking ads before grocery shopping.

    My oldest son, 19, has a job and I encourage him to put half of his paycheck in savings. Most of the time he does pretty good with that. My daughter, 15, occasionally babysits and umpires softball. She’s pretty good about saving her money for the things she really wants.

    As for encouraging their entrepreneurial spirit, we’ve talked about lots of things and I’ve thrown out ideas but right now their interests are elsewhere. My son loves video games too and I had encouraged him to pursue something in that direction but he’s not ready for that. I like the html training you mentioned and I will pass that along. My daughter is dead set on getting an athletic scholarship for softball and going to a big university.

    And for our little guy, I have a lot of food for thought. Thanks for sharing great ideas!

  • Teresa Smolinski
    Reply

    I helped my daughters start their own business when they were 10 and 12. They are now in college and I run the business full-time. We’ve certainly learned a lot over the years. I must say, encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit is not unlike nurturing your child in other ways. How do you excite them to play an instrument or excel in a sport? You help find their talents, you provide positive reinforcement for the things that they do well, and you speak to their reward systems. What makes them tick? For some, the money is a thrill. For other kids, especially young ones that are happy with what they have, the money is not so much an incentive. If they have talents that you can pay them for, it’s a great way to start. Let them know that their skills have a value.

    Make sure that your kids know that it’s okay to think outside the box and dare them to be different. My youngest hated being the center of attention and the publicity the business attracted was quite uncomfortable for her. Now in college (and a business/marketing major!) she appreciates the things that she’s learned along the way, and approaches her classes quite differently than many her own age. My oldest is a college senior planning on getting her doctorate and working in healthcare, but knows that the business lessons she’s learned along the way are invaluable. She has no interest in being an entrepreneur but realizes that running a practice will take business skills.

    I can obviously talk for hours on this topic.

  • Angie Marcum
    Reply

    I love this information! My kids are always stating they are just too young to earn some money. I try to teach them about money and saving money especially with groceries since it is a big expense now a days. My daughter watches as I am trying to grow my business and actually has a blog she writes on there from time to time. My son usually tries to do odd jobs for the neighbors like mowing.

  • Kenmoab
    Reply

    One of the best ways to encourage risk is to focus on reward. Setting goals, creating a plan and putting deadlines on a calendar for everyone to see have worked with school projects. I don’t know why they wouldn’t with encouraging entrepreneurship. Making money is a skill that most people struggle with well into adulthood. It is a confidence booster that will stay with them through all aspects of their lives.

  • Alyssa
    Reply

    This is a great post, and yes, please do write a Kindle book with even more ideas! My kids are just 6 and 2 but I love these ideas for instilling entrepreneurial focus and creativity at a young age (I think many of the ideas suggested can be adapted for my 6 year old now) and continuing to foster it as they grow older. We’re already teaching about spending, saving and tithing so I hope they’ll grasp financial concepts better than I did and not get into the same debt pitfalls I did in earlier years.

  • Tracy Roberts
    Reply

    Thanks for sharing your awesome ideas! My 2 youngest kids are very interested in what I’m doing, so much so that they want to start a vlog together (we’re currently going over appropriate video etiquette 😉 ) and my 16 yr old likes the idea of making money online but I’m not sure he’s ready to sit down and tackle it quite yet. However, he has talked about starting an offline business and has asked for input on creating a website so all is not lost.
    Can’t wait to assign reading & coding homework!

  • Mandy Allen
    Reply

    It’s so important to encourage our young people to do the best they can. In this world of technology it is great for them to have a purpose when online rather than just playing around. I work with young people and find their minds work in a really refreshing way, they have ideas I would never have thought of. Helping them to harness those ideas and run with them is a gift and we should all encourage their progress.

    Enjoy the journey.

    Mandy

  • Becca
    Reply

    My older son is really good on savings his extra money. But with my daughter, i’ve had hard time to help her understand the important of savings.

  • Prisqua
    Reply

    My daughter who is 18 got wants a fashion store, so told her to start one online and then she got really good ideas… She has been working for a shoe store as a casual and every day she complains about her job. so we started working on her website but it is a lot of work and she is not into lots of work…
    She applied for another job because it is great money: base salary plus commissions but she has to work 40 hours to get good money. Keep trying she could be earning the same amount and more working from home… And trying to get her to give me to full days to finish the website is a hard one. Also just found out the father is not encouraging at all which I was a bit upset about because we are a family of self-employed people. But anyway I will prove him wrong and she will have a successful store.

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