As a parent, you may wondering if it’s even a good idea for your teen to start a business. You may think that between school, sports and club activities, they won’t have time. You may be right. You would know better than anyone. But I wouldn’t rule it out completely.
I know. A business sounds scary and time consuming. But a business doesn’t necessarily mean they will spend all their free time working. Most teens are not going to be thinking of building a business to sustain their future, just to earn some pocket money. A part time business is perfectly acceptable for teens. Maybe they spend a couple hours per week in product development and then another hour marketing or doing a vendor event. That is certainly do-able and will still earn them some spending money.
With that in mind, here are a few key reasons why your teen should start a business.
There is so much your teen can learn from starting and running a business. This is the most important. Not every decision they make in their business is going to lead to success. Each mistake allows them to analyze what went wrong and come up with another solution to try. It might take a few tries, but eventually they will find the right solution. Heck, I started 4 or 5 businesses before I found one that actually made me money. I attribute that mostly to learning from my mistakes as I went along. Not only do they learn how to handle a mistake, but they will learn to persevere in the face of these mistakes and try again. This is such an important lesson we all need to learn.
This one kind of goes along with the first benefit. The more successful they become, the more obstacles they overcome, the more confident they will become. I’ve seen it time and time again. We had a teen working on a community service project that blossomed from start to finish. Her goal at the start of the project was to collect coats for homeless teens in the Detroit area. She had started by calling friends and family asking for donations and asking for recommendations on community organizations she could contact. After weeks of calling around, she wasn’t coming up with much. She was getting disappointed and wanted to quit her project. She thought she could figure out something easier. Her advisers suggested she stick with it and not give up. They told her to sit down and brainstorm a list of organizations she could start calling that could help her. One by one she starting calling. At first she didn’t get any response but eventually people started donating and she was even able to get a company to sponsor her efforts. In the end, she ended up with nearly 1,000 coats to donate to a homeless shelter that focused on teens and kids. The one thing she said in her follow up interview was that at first she was discouraged because she felt awkward talking to people on the phone, wasn’t sure what to say or how to say it. But she discovered that the more she called, the more it became natural and the more confident she felt. The biggest benefit she got from her project was her new found sense of confident in dealing with people and situations that were new to her. From start to finish it was like we were seeing a completely different kid!
Your teen probably earns an allowance so they may have a little experience with managing money. They may have even gotten lucky and attended a high school that offers a personal finance class, though those classes are actually quite rare. (We have lived in 2 states and neither of the schools offered these classes). According to the 2014 survey of the National State of Financial & Economic Education, only 17 states require a high school course in Personal Finance. And only 22 states require a high school course in Economics.
One of the biggest complaints I have heard from young adults is that they were never taught how to balance a checkbook or create a budget. Being in business, these two things are crucial to the success of the business. Create a budget, track sales, balance a checkbook and keep other financial records. These are all skills they will learn running a business.
First off, who doesn’t need a little help paying for college these days? They may be able to start a college savings fund that helps them to pay for books and other expenses while they are off at college. What a great way to keep them motivated to do well in school when they are helping to foot the bill. Why should we parents pay the entire bill, right?
Second, having a business is a great extracurricular activity for the college application. Colleges consider so many different aspects of an application, but this would really make your teen stand out!
With the amazing technology we have these days, starting a business is very affordable. Social media is a mostly free marketing avenue, (as long as this is where their customers hang out!) as well as having a website. Not to mention with all the easy to use drag and drop website builders out there, it can be done by your teen. There are free versions of accounting software, mailing list software, ecommerce shops, contact management software and so much more that allows you to run your business for free or mostly free. Really, let’s face it, teens know much more about the available technology that most of us adults do. They grew up with it as a regular part of their daily lives.
There are countless more benefits your teen will get being a teen entrepreneur. I’ve just highlighted a few of the important ones. If you are still feeling unsure, I highly recommend reading through this blog to see some of the resources available as well as some of the best success stories of teen entrepreneurs.