Not all kids want to go to work “for the man.” Bagging groceries, selling clothes, baking bread, serving food . . . these may not be the jobs your teen wants to use to fill their pocketbook with extra cash. Some teens would like to grow their own business and earn what they have worked to achieve, not just because they showed up for work.
Sometimes this may be difficult as you may count on some of their income to make ends meet at home. But, if their income isn’t essential for your budget, the teen years are a great time to learn the intricacies of growing and running their own business. This may spark their interest in starting their own business after high school or college, it may give them greater skills to work at their next job, or it may help grow their self-confidence.
Whatever the benefits – and there are a number of benefits to owning your own business – the question may be . . . what business?
Over 10 years ago my oldest son’s best friend started his own lawn business. It’s a common business for young men. However, Luke took his business to the next step, and learned quite a bit in the meantime.
In the beginning he mowed the neighbor’s yards and pushed his push mower to their home. The next year he bought a riding mower and could mow more homes and further away. With the money from that year he bought a ride behind mower and trailer for the family truck. His mother drove the truck while Luke picked up customers who lived close enough that she could go home for several hours while he worked.
His business grew so large that he was recognized in national magazines and has been quoted in articles and books giving advice to young adults who want to start their own business. He choose a landscaping business because he liked working outside and with his hands.
His parents supported his efforts and today he has graduated college and works as an engineer. The skills he learned about pricing, customer service, product development, marketing and communication he has brought to his new company, making him a valuable asset and prime candidate for advancement over the years.
What can your teen do?
Before making a decision about what business they may or may not start, it’s important your teen knows what they like and decide if they like it enough to do it (or supervise someone else doing it) for years. You may want to invest some time and energy into helping them take several online personality and interest tests to determine what may be the best fit for them.
Whatever they decide to do, you’ll be an integral part of the business and growth by giving them advice, support and showing interest in what they’re doing. Whether they show it or not, your teen really wants to know that you are interested in them, what they do, who they are and what they are becoming.
Teens aren’t always the best communicators, so it might seem they have no interest in your interest in them. But, if you take a few minutes to remember back to your own teen years, you’ll likely remember that it would have been (or was) the best feeling in the world when your parents took an interest in what you said or what you were doing.
Your children are the same.
Whatever they decide to do, they will need to learn how to market their product or service, complete the tasks on time, quote an accurate price, invoice their customers, expect payment for their service or product, keep books, and learn when it’s time to purchase more inventory and when it’s time to wait. If this isn’t your area of expertise then hook your teen up with a volunteer from the Small Business Association who has the expertise and interest in growing the next generation of entrepreneurs.
While you may want your child to have an entrepreneurial spirit – it isn’t what every child wants. In fact, while I have loved the freedom and ability that being an entrepreneur has given to me, none of my children (so far) have expressed an iota of interest. My oldest daughter’s husband would love to have his own business – and someday he likely will. My daughter will be right at his side working with him, but she wouldn’t be the one initiating it.
Remember, your child has his own ideas and interests and they will do best when they follow those and not our dreams. Some of these ideas require that your teen has had some training them self – such as working with animals. Depending upon your child’s age and his interest, this may be the direction they want to go. As you and your teen look through these ideas, remember to look for the same topics on Pinterest. This social network has an amazing number of creative ways of accomplishing tasks that most people would pay for SOMEONE ELSE to do for them!
Here’s a short list of ideas for you and your teen to discuss. Do any of these interest them? Do they want to explore one or another further?
Teen entrepreneur ideas:
Lawn maintenance / landscaping / hanging outdoor Christmas lights
Outdoor pot making
Homemade Dog Treats
Homemade Dog Toys/Cat Toys/Bird Toys
Freelance – Graphic Design, Writing, Proofreader
Teaching Online Skills
Tutor Other Students (math, foreign language, science, English)
Etsy – selling crafts online and handmade gifts
Fixing Bikes, Lawnmowers etc.
Service Lawn Equipment
Garage Cleaning and Organization
Social Media Consulting
If your teen would like a little inspiration from young people this Fortune article should do the trick.