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:
  2. Entrepreneurs are problem solvers (the most successful entrepreneurs solve a problem). This is a great article about entrepreneurs and solving problems.
  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: .

youth Entrepreneur Camp Eseedling

Youth Entrepreneur Camps – A Fun Way to Learn about Business

youth Entrepreneur Camp Eseedling

More Than a Lemonade Stand Youth Entrepreneur Camp

“Just because you’re a kid doesn’t mean you can’t start a business”. That was what Sophia (a youth entrepreneur camper) said to me last summer. And the best part is she was right! It is amazing the ideas that kids come up with during camp. Sometimes they come with something they have been working on and sometimes they think of something at camp. I have seen everything from lawn mowing, tutoring, pet sitting, creating t-shirts, teaching music, creating operating systems, and developing apps. One trend that I’ve seen in the past few years is an increase in creating social enterprises (a company that gives back and helps others).

In the one week youth entrepreneur camp kids ages 9 and up (there’s two separate age groups) come up with their own business idea (based on their strengths and interests) and learn business basics such as marketing, financials, customer service, and branding. They play the biz ops game™ (a game based learning experience where small teams of 4-5 run a paper airplane business) to learn about business operations, create, market and run a real lemonade stand business (to raise funds for the camp scholarship fund), learn from experienced entrepreneurs, present their business ideas to their peers and create a poster to present their business to friends and families. They leave the camp with the tools and knowledge they need to start their business.
How did it all get started? I would like to think of it as fate! I was a very entrepreneurial kid (the e-seedling story is on our website with entrepreneurial parents and I realized how much fun it was (even though I had many failures) and the freedom that it allowed (we took many family trips). Even though I went into teaching and what I call the “work world”, I longed for the freedom of being an entrepreneur.
When I was 27, I started a business with a partner and realized that I had no clue on how to run a “real” business. I learned more in the next 3 years, then probably anytime in my entire career. The business was purchased by a regional firm where I again found myself as an employee. Years later, I was fortunate enough to get a job at the UW-Madison Small Business Development Center which held a youth entrepreneur camp. In 2008, when the economy suffered, the camp was in jeopardy of being cancelled. I proposed to rewrite the curriculum so that we could teach it in-house. It has become very successful and each year it fills earlier. Since there is a huge need, and the SBDC doesn’t have the resources to hold more camps, I decided to again become an entrepreneur and start E-seedling to run camps and help others to do the empower kids through entrepreneurship. I agree with Sophia, that you’re never too young to start a business, you just need the opportunity and the knowledge of how.

Our Youth Entrepreneur camp was featured in the May blog post of Teaching Today WI – This is a reprint of that Blog post 

July youth entrepreneur camps are open for registration (week of July 10 for ages 10-12 and week of July 17 for ages 13-14). For more information visit 

Main Street Succession plan

Does your Main Street have a Succession Plan?

Main Street Succession plan

Succession Plan for Main Street

Look down the Main Street of home towns across the US and you will see that small local entrepreneurs make up the majority of businesses. They have passion for what they do, they are resilient during tough times and they contribute more to the economy then big business. In the U.S. there are 28 million small businesses that make up 54% of all U.S. Sales (Source:  But there is a bigger issue right now and that is the changing of the generations!

11,000 people a day are reaching age 65
(Source: social security administration)

With 11,000 Baby Boomers reaching retirement age every day we need to have a plan in place to continue these small businesses that make our communities thrive!  Of course, because of better health care and longer lives some are working past 65 but we still need to get the next generation up and running before it’s too late.

There are 2 more issues that are causing problems with Main Street Succession plans.

  • Only 45% of new businesses survive the first 5 years (Source: Kaufmann Foundation for Entrepreneurship).
  • Schools are not preparing kids for the business world. Kids have so much pressure to go to a 4 year college and it is so competitive that they are spending their time taking honors classes so that they can get into the college of their choice that they don’t have time for business electives.

Your community can be part of the solution by proactively providing programs to help develop young entrepreneurs in your communities.

What are the benefits?

  • Helping kids realize that entrepreneurship is viable career option increases the chances that they may start a business of their own.
  • Helping develop The Next Gen of entrepreneurs helps build a pipeline for your Main Street Succession Plan.
  • Providing a young entrepreneur program will educate the families on the existing businesses in the community and the economic development challenges the community faces; deepening the connection and engagement with parents and kids in your community.
  • By asking entrepreneurs to be a guest speaker, provide a field trip location for the program, or even become a mentor; you will be building community between businesses and the families in your community.
  • Providing a youth entrepreneurship opportunity in your community can connect school learning to the real world. This gives kids who might not otherwise see a purpose in what they are learning become more motivated to succeed both academically and personally.

So how does our community get started?

  • You need a champion – you need someone that wants to take this on as an initiative. It might be one person or a group of people – but without that push it probably won’t take root.
  • Decide what type of program you want to hold. You can start out as simple as a one day entrepreneurship day (could even work with the school), to a day camp, an afterschool or Saturday morning program.  Then schedule and reserve a venue.
  • Determine your goals including the number of kids, time frame, what you want to teach them and what is their end product (For example in our basic program our end products are an oral presentation to the class, a poster presentation to friends and family and a lemonade stand that raises funds for the youth entrepreneurship scholarship fund).
  • Find the tools you want to use and what your budget is to spend. The good news is there are tools out there for use and some of them are free.
    1. The website has an entire section dedicated to Young Entrepreneurs
    2. There are several free downloads on the eseedling website including the free e-book “You’re Never too Young to Start a Business” (including free worksheets) when you sign up for the mailing list.
    3. You can also check out the More Than a Lemonade Stand curriculum and Biz Ops Game that has been used with over 300 kids ages 9 -14.
  • Find instructors; once you know what you want to teach and what tools you are going to use, you need to find instructors. The good news is there are probably business owners who would love to help by sharing their expertise.  Ask them if they would like to teach a short lesson on a business topic.  Or you may want to hire an instructor at least for the first year.
  • Market to your community. Luckily filling a youth entrepreneur program has never been an issue for me and I’m sure it won’t be for you either. Most schools will allow you to create fliers that they can hand out. Local grocery stores and libraries had bulletin boards to post and the chamber usually has a newsletter that will post it for you.

Most of all, Have FUN!  Being involved in a youth entrepreneurship program for the past 10 years has been a wonderful and rewarding experience.  It’s a fun way to teach kids about business and you will be amazed at what the kids come up with and how much they can learn in just a short period of time.

If you are still hesitant about starting a program, I would love to answer any questions you might have.  You can contact me at

Julie Ann Wood has been teaching kids about entrepreneurship fo

r over 10 years, she has created the More Than a Lemonade Stand curriculum and the Biz Ops Game to help others integrate entrepreneurship and business in their programs. In addition to working as an Education Program Manager at the UW-Madison Small Business Development Center for the past 12 years, she runs E-seedling, LLC specializing in cultivating tomorrow’s entrepreneurs through training, consulting, youth entrepreneur camps, tools and curriculum. To learn more visit