In today’s economy, jobs remain scarce for young people just getting their start. Getting ahead doesn’t mean getting a good education any more and having a good resume, it means starting young. Through youthful entrepreneurship, kids can learn the true meaning of hard work, and this can ultimately help them find far more lucrative opportunities than an entry-level position straight out of college would ever provide.
So we put it to all you parents out there: Here are a few tips for raising the next Mark Zuckerberg.
1) Instead of giving out a weekly allowance, pay your child based on the chores he performs. For example, you might pay $1 for your child to sweep the floors, or $0.50 for taking out the trash. Create a set of options, each with its own rate, and allow your child to take on as many tasks as he likes. For a great chore list example, visit the Toilet Paper Entrepreneur’s blog.
2) Encourage your child to start small-scale businesses, like a car wash, babysitting, or lawn-mowing service, in his teens. Teach him how to market his services by helping him create custom brochures to distribute around the neighborhood or build an email newsletter to send monthly notifications to local contacts.
3) If you run your own business, let your child help out—and give him a look at your accounting books. Your child may be able to assist you with administrative or customer service tasks while still in high school. It’s also worth going over your budget and expenses with him, so he can gain a strong understanding of the work it takes to make a successful business. This is also the perfect opportunity to teach your child how to use the web, design pages, and otherwise get involved in high-tech.
4) Encourage your child to enter student business plan competitions. If your young visionary has a brilliant idea for a company but needs capital to get started, he can team up with a few other students and share his idea at one of the hundreds of business plan competitions open to high school students, undergraduates, and graduate students around the U.S. Winners typically receive anywhere from several hundred dollars to $100,000, depending on the contest. And even if your child doesn’t win the cash, participating in these contests provides an ideal opportunity for honing a business plan and learning to make an effective pitch. Find a list of business plan competitions here.
5) If you believe in your child’s idea, start him out with some seed money. If your child has a solid business idea with real income potential, consider giving him a loan for initial expenses if you can spare the money. Family funding worked out well for Phil Tepfer and Charles Bogoian, two college students who borrowed $25,000 from relatives to launch an apparel company: Within three years, their LiveProud Group was bringing in $375,000 in annual revenues.