5 Ways to Help Your Teen Start a Business
Teens have so much information at their fingertips, they know there are better job options than the local fast food joints. They want to be successful, independent, and passionate about their career. This naturally leads some teenagers toward entrepreneurship.
Starting a business is challenging, but it can also be incredibly beneficial to your teen.
They will gain valuable life skills, like critical thinking and resiliency. They will develop research skills, financial sense, and independence through their business journey.
But, how do you help a teenager that wants to start their own business?
1. Identify a Problem They Can Solve
Everyone knows the image of the neighbourhood kid with their card-table lemonade stand. That used to be the pinnacle of childhood business, but not anymore. Times have changed, and teenagers can fill all kinds of traditional and nontraditional roles in the community.
The first step is to help them figure out what kind of business they want to start. A successful company fills a need and solves a problem for their consumers, whether it’s with a product or a service.
Help your aspiring entrepreneur brainstorm the problems they see in their community.
Identify the target demographic associated with each problem and potential solutions.
Do you live in a neighborhood with a lot of retirees? They could offer basic housekeeping services.
Is there a challenging class that your teen is nailing? Maybe they should market downloadable flashcards or study guides.
Brainstorming can lead to an overwhelming number of ideas at first, but your teenager can quickly narrow the list. This brainstorming phase is where genius is born.
2. Consider All Options
Remind them to consider all their options. In their little niche, there may be several services or products they could provide. There may also be existing business that do the exact same thing.
If they are old enough to work, they might consider getting a traditional job to gain experience while they plan their business. Working for an existing company offers you the opportunity to learn the ropes while still getting paid.
Be careful not to shut your teen down with this kind of talk. This job should be an opportunity to learn about the business, not an alternative to their start-up. Avoid words like “realistic” when discussing options. Starting your own business is a realistic endeavor, it just requires a lot of work.
3. Write a Business Plan
Before writing a business plan, your teen needs to know how businesses get started.
If you aren’t sure about the in’s and out’s of starting a business yourself, do a little research.
Be sure that you know the steps a new entrepreneur should take. Then, help your teenager build their plan.
This sounds like such an intimidating thing to do, but it doesn’t have to be. Support your kiddo’s strengths by showing them examples that are simple, short, and use a variety of communication skills.
Business plans don’t have to be novel lengths documents full of legalese. Help them identify a few key goals of their business and put together a fun, colourful infographic!
If graphics and writing are not your teens forte, start with a video “elevator pitch”.
Tell them to create a vlog that sells the concept of their business to potential investors. This isn’t a commercial, it should include their profit margins and expenses in addition to promoting their product or service.
4. Find a Mentor
You may already be a successful business owner and entrepreneur, but that doesn’t mean your child couldn’t benefit from outside advice.
Hook your teen up with local community members (that you know and trust, of course) who can help them in their pursuits. Friends and family with small businesses are a great start. Invite some local business people out for lunch or coffee.
Help your teen prepare some questions, and watch them get inspired.
5. Invest in Your Teen
Whatever you do to support your teenager in their entrepreneurial journey, be sure to invest in them. Invest your time by setting aside opportunities to discuss their ideas and help them reach their benchmark goals.
Do some research on your own and send it to them. Your support will mean the world to them, even if they never read the articles you send.
If you have the ability, invest in them financially. This can mean purchasing materials or tools as gifts, or buying them software to help them promote their business.
It could also mean setting up a “small business loan” as an investor, and expecting a return!
Teach them what it means to have another person financially involved in their business. That being said, be fair… your teen is not a professional, yet.
Most of all, invest in them emotionally.
Starting a business is hard. Your teen will want to give up. They will be overwhelmed with the work. They may even fail.
It is important to be their cheerleader through the whole process. Especially when things do not go as planned!
Share their joy at their first profit, and their disappointment when things fall apart.
Don’t tell them how to feel, but assure them that they are learning. Help them feel successful and strong, no matter the outcome.
About the Author:
Ron Stefanski is the founder of JobsForTeensHQ.com and has a passion for helping teenagers find jobs. He created the website because he feels that teenagers need to focus on their professional passions much earlier in life and aims to teach them how they can do that. When he’s not working on his website, Ron is a college professor and loves to travel the world.