Business idea

Five things to successfully teach kids entrepreneurship (Part 2 of 6)

Business idea

I have a business idea

Helping Kids Choose a Business Idea they can Start
(Part 2 of 6 of the 5 things to successfully teach kids entrepreneurship series)

One thing that we discuss in the More Than a Lemonade Stand™ youth entrepreneur program, before having kids choose a business idea, is what it means to be an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs not only create businesses, but they have a unique mindset that is just as important.  If kids start thinking like an entrepreneur, they not only can apply it to their own business idea but also to their life in general.

Here are 4 things that are important to discuss when it comes to the entrepreneurial mindset.

  1. Entrepreneurs are resilient and persistent (most entrepreneurs don’t succeed with their first business idea). This article on 10 famous entrepreneurs who failed is a great discussion starting point: https://small-bizsense.com/10-famous-entrepreneurs-who-failed-in-business-before-becoming-successful/
  2. Entrepreneurs are problem solvers (the most successful entrepreneurs solve a problem). This is a great article about entrepreneurs and solving problems. https://www.business.com/articles/are-entrepreneurs-nothing-more-than-problem-solvers/
  3. Entrepreneurs are not only knowledgeable in their specific area but also have business knowledge (at minimum, they need to understand their business model and financial information along with communication of their business idea and how to sell it).
  4. Entrepreneurs are team builders (they know their strengths and weaknesses and build a team to help strengthen their weaknesses).

Now let’s focus on helping kids choose a business idea they can start. Here are 4 steps to help kids choose a business idea that they can start.

  • Explore their interests. What do they like to do in their spare time?  Usually what kids do in their free time is a clue for what they have a passion for. Starting and running a business is not easy so it’s best they choose something they like to do since they are more apt to stick with it.
  • Look at what things they have experience with. If they are naturally good at something and have built up some expertise, they’ll find it easier to create a business around it. This could be anything from making jewelry, mowing lawns, painting, taking pictures or videos, a school subject, music or sports.
  • Explore how they can turn their interest and or knowledge into a solution (remember, entrepreneurs are problem-solvers). For example, if they are good in a school subject, they could help tutor kids. They could teach a sport, create a product to solve a problem, or help take care of kids so parents can get things done.
  • Once they have a business idea, they need to think about how are they going to make money from it. Have them ask potential customers if they are already have a current solution to the problem and if so, what it is and what do they like and dislike about it. If they don’t have a solution ask the potential customers if they would pay for a solution. That will help the entrepreneur come up with some ideas of how they can sell against their competition and if their idea is feasible.

Part 3 in the series will focus on creating a feasible business model and how creating a Business Model Canvas for their idea can help them do that.

Julie Ann Wood has been an entrepreneur since she was a kid and shares her passion by working with young entrepreneurs to create their own businesses along with organizations and schools to implement youth entrepreneur programs.  In addition to running her own company, E-seedling, LLC, she is the Youth Entrepreneur Camp director for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Small Business Development Center and is the author of the More Than a Lemonade Stand™, the You’re Never Too Young to Start a Business e-book the creator of the Biz Ops Game™. To learn more about the curriculum, games and youth entrepreneur programs and seminars visit: www.eseedling.com .

Teaching Kids Entrepreneurship

5 things to start with when teaching kids entrepreneurship (Part 1 of 6)

Teaching Kids EntrepreneurshipI often get asked, what should I start with when teaching kids entrepreneurship? After teaching kids, ages 9-14, entrepreneurship over the past 10 years I’ve come up with five things that have proven to be successful. I use these 5 things in the More Than a Lemonade Stand™ curriculum and have developed hundreds of young entrepreneurs using it and I hope you find this helpful in teaching entrepreneurship.  This post is meant to be an overview of the five things (part 1 of 6). In the upcoming weeks, I will dive into more detail of the how of each item.

1. Help kids choose a business idea

The best way to learn about entrepreneurship is by running a business and most entrepreneurs don’t strike it rich on their first business venture so it’s better to learn before the stakes are high. Since starting and running a business is not easy, it’s best the kids choose an idea that they are interested in and have some experience in.  This could be anything from making jewelry, lawn care, painting, photography, a school subject, music or sports. Once they know what they are interested in and have some knowledge of, they need to think about how they can turn that into something that can make money with (i.e., tutoring, helping kids with basic sports or music, babysitting, or selling a product at a local craft show or to kids at school). Post 2 of 6 will focus on the how to introduce entrepreneurship and help kids choose a business idea they can work on.

“Most entrepreneurs don’t strike it rich on their first business venture so it’s better to learn before the stakes are high.”  ~Julie Ann Wood

2. Create a feasible business model

Once the idea is chosen, the next thing to look at is the business model to see if it is a feasible business idea. The Business Model Canvas, created by Alexander Osterwalder, is an excellent tool to help kids (and adults) discover this. The Business Model Canvas is widely used by entrepreneurs as part of the lean startup methodology. The Business Model Canvas will help kids determine what problem they are solving, who their customers are, how they will run the business and how they will make money. The Strategyzer website has a free 2-minute video which explains the nine building blocks that the canvas is built on which you can view on their website at:  https://strategyzer.com/canvas/business-model-canvas .  Post 3 of 6 will focus on a fun and engaging way to teach the business model canvas to young entrepreneurs.

3. Teach business basics

Once the idea is chosen and the business model is created it’s time to learn the business fundamentals which will serve the young entrepreneurs no matter what business idea they pursue now or in the future. In our programs we include branding, marketing, sales, basic financials, customer service and production. Each of these areas are necessary to go from the idea stage to the actual starting and running of the business. Presentation skills are also included since the kids are required to create e a poster presentation/pitch for their business. After all, if the entrepreneur can’t communicate the idea effectively it will be impossible for them to succeed. Post 4 of 6 will focus on a method to teach the business fundamentals to young entrepreneurs.

4. Learn from real entrepreneurs

All entrepreneurs have a story and have made mistakes. I have found entrepreneurs to be quite excited to share their stories (and mistakes) with young entrepreneurs. Their stories provide insight to the kids that they may not get from just learning the content. Instead of learning the hard way, they can learn some valuable lessons from entrepreneurs who have already learned the hard way. That is why field trips and guest speakers from a variety of entrepreneurs and business types are a great way for young entrepreneurs to learn. Be sure to include discussion about the entrepreneurs’ stories including what they noticed about their characteristics and mindset. Post 5 of 6 will focus on ways in which you can include entrepreneurs and a fun and engaging reflection activity to use.

“The best way to learn about running a business is to run a business!” ~Julie Ann Wood

5. Real Life Experience

As I mentioned in the 1st item, the best way to learn about running a business is to run a business!  That is why, in addition to the kids starting their own business, these two additional experiential activities that involve running a business will allow the kids to run a business in a ‘safe’ setting.

The first one is a fast paced simulation called the Biz Ops Game™ which teaches business operations in approximately 90 minutes. In this game, kids, in small teams of 4-5 each, run their own paper airplane business. Each team comes up with a business name, starts with a loan from the bank (that they have to pay back with interest) budget and plan for their expenses and raw materials, design, make & test their paper airplanes, fly them on a duct tape runway as they sell them to customer, track their actual sales and expenses and create a mini-income statement.  The game is played in 5 rounds so teams can improve their process and design as the game progresses.

The second one is a real Lemonade stand business.  Depending on how many kids are in the program, this can be done as a single team lemonade stand or a multiple team lemonade stand competition. The kids run a real-life lemonade stand in which they raise funds for a cause such as a scholarship fund for the youth entrepreneur program. They must come up with a name, theme, branding, marketing, what they are selling, define the roles and everything needed to create a successful lemonade stand operation.  Post 6 of 6 will focus more deeply on how these 2 real life business experiences can be used in a youth entrepreneurship program.

These 5 things are included in the More Than a Lemonade™ youth entrepreneurship curriculum and have proven successful in teaching young entrepreneurs. Julie Ann Wood has been working with young entrepreneurs for more than 10 years and is the author of the More Than a Lemonade Stand™ book, You’re Never Too Young to Start a Business e-book and the creator of the Biz Ops Game™. To learn more about the curriculum, programs and how to work with Julie visit: www.eseedling.com .