Wondering how to make money for kids? Or is your kid really into the subject? Read on for where to start.
Kidpreneurs (kid entrepreneurs) are popping up everywhere.
And the market appears to be highly ready to receive them, as many have “hit it big.”
Take Leanna, for example, who was constantly being complimented about her hair at around the age of 11. The secret sauce? She actually was making her own homemade hair products. She saw an opportunity for her homemade hair dressings, hair butters, and shampoos (all free of sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens, and lots of other mainstream chemicals) and opened up her company, Leanna’s, Inc. In 2010, she raked in $100,000 in profits, and in 2011 that number was more like $300,000.
You know, in between math worksheets, first-time crushes, and whatnot.
Or Mikaila Ulmer, who, after being stung by two bees in one week, was sent her grandmother’s 1940s recipe book with a special lemonade recipe in it to help make her feel better. Mikaila became interested in bees and learned about their endangered plight + how important they are for the ecosystem. She created Me & the Bees Lemonade, which now is being sold in Whole Foods Market after her stint on Shark Tank. A percentage of all of her profits goes to organizations helping to save the bees.
These stories are kinda unreal, especially since most of us Mama Bears (and especially those of us who aren’t making even close to that amount…*ahem* myself included).
Have you ever thought about your child joining the ranks of these entrepreneur prodigies? Or perhaps your own kiddo has come to you and mentioned here and there how excited they are by other kids paving the kidpreneur way?
I mean the thing is, your safest place to start them with is books. It’s a relatively low-cost way for you + your kiddo to explore this new territory, and learn a few things in the process. Like whether or not they’re really serious about this, or if their idea will go the way of toddler-sized Elsa dolls in two weeks.
Follow along with the main characters below, broken down by suggested age range, as they traverse their own entrepreneurial journeys.
Hint: it’s not all roses. But if you’re a woman in a biz like I am, then you already knew that.
Kidpreneur Money Book #1: Lemonade in Winter, Emily Jenkins
Age Range: 3-7 years
What’s one of the first rules of creating a product? Give the people what they want. And really, when they want it. Timing is everything.
As in, who wants to buy a cup of icy lemonade in winter, when these two decide to open up their lemonade stand?
Another entrepreneur reality these two learn the hard way: you don’t make a profit if you spend as much money to make the product as you bring in selling the product.
Kidpreneur Money Book #2: Lulu Walks the Dogs, Judith Viorst
Age Range: 6-10 years
This book drives home the point that a (successful) entrepreneur’s journey is hardly ever walked alone. You need help. Even if it’s just from the pesky neighbor boy who seems to know an awful lot about things + is super polite.
Follow along as sassy Lulu learns the hard way about making money from a variety of sources.
Kidpreneur Money Book #3: Amelia Bedelia Means Business, Herman Parish
Age Range: 6-10
Amelia sets her green eye on the brand new bike Suzanne has…and she just has to get one, too. The only problem (aside from basing her wants on someone else’s)? Her parents will only pay for half of the new bike.
Amelia sets up a lemonade stand next to a car lot because she’s convinced there will be thirsty customers. Follow along while she thinks of creative ways to both win the bike, as well as to advertise her new business.
Kidpreneur Money Book #4: The Lemonade War, Jacqueline Davies
Age Range: 7-10 years
What an adorable book – I absolutely adored reading it.
And the reason why this is great for your kidpreneur-in-the-making to read? It breaks down these huge business concepts and makes them understandable through something your tween gets – a lemonade stand. We’re talking concepts like underselling, value-added, profit margins, franchises, etc.
A further lesson I love is the underlying idea that you’ve GOT to take action. Action in business is how you see results – both good and bad – and learn from them. Then tweak, and move on.
Kidpreneur Money Book #5: The Toothpaste Millionaire, Jean Merrill
Age Range: 10-12 years
Note: Originally published in 1972, this book takes place in an era when many authors, including this one, talked about things like race/age/sex discrimination. So just a heads up!
this line from the book pretty much sums up why I’m recommending it: “As I mentioned before, math isn’t my favorite subject. But I think everybody should take a course in toothpaste.”
This book gives an overall introduction to the manufacturing business, and makes the whole thing a very tangible subject. Not to mention, the main character essentially does what Leanna did with her hair products: he figures out how to make a homemade toothpaste recipe that is much cheaper than what’s on the market, and has no chemicals in it.
I love how this book shares the process of his wins and losses while trying to figure out a recipe, then figure out how to actually package it, etc.
Kidpreneur Money Book #6: Lawn Boy, Gary Paulsen
Age Range: 8-12 years
Note: Get this book for your kiddo for the business and entrepreneur lessons. However, warn your kid about the use of penny stocks and investing their money with random people, because Lawn Boy makes a small fortune when his stockbroker-neighbor-turned-business-manager invests his money into penny stocks.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: financial limits breed creativity. In this case, being a broke kid bred a whole business!
Lawn Boy chronicles a kid’s journey through starting a successful lawn-mowing business − complete with employees − all because his parents didn’t have enough money to help him buy a new bike inner tube (bikes seem to be a recurring motivational theme in these books, eh?).
Lots of economics here, but it makes entrepreneurship and the skills you’ll need for it (plus the hurdles you’ll be faced with) much more accessible.
Kidpreneur Money Book #7: Lunch Money, Andrew Clements
Age Range: 8-12 years
The main character, Greg Kenton, is obsessed with earning cash. Like, totally money-crazy. One day he figures out that all of his friends and schoolmates carry around extra quarters with them (market research at its best!) − for things like ice-cream sandwiches, cupcakes, neon pens, pencils, and other things to buy at school – he sets out to find a way to get all those quarters.
He bounces around from product ideas as first a middle man of sorts, and then an inventor of mini-comic books kids can read in school. Once he figures out how to mass produce them, someone else gets smart on the process (a competitor!) plus he gets into trouble with his principal (legal issues!).
Lots of entrepreneurial lessons in here introduced in a non-intimidating way, like marketing, figuring out your audience, gross earnings versus profits, trademark issues, etc.
Kidpreneur Money Book #8: Better than a Lemonade Stand!, Daryl Bernstein
Age Range: 9-13 years
This 15-year old gives your kiddo 55 different business ideas that go well beyond the lemonade stand. Originally written in 1992, there are examples included throughout of actual kids who took this kid’s advice and how they created a business from it.
There’s a lot of positivity in this book, and I’ll have to warn you that you may not agree with all the advice spouted off by the then-15-year-old in the beginning of the book. Examples include, “When you earn your own money, it’s yours to spend as you wish…[i]f you prefer to buy loads of candy, go ahead!” And you might want to reinforce the idea of charity against his statement of, “When I see a need, I charge a fee to fill it.”
Kidpreneur Money Book #9: Seventeen Against the Dealer, Cynthia Voigt
Age Range: 12+ years
Note: This is actually Book #7 in a series; however, I didn’t read the other ones before it and thought the story worked well on its own.
Dicey Tillerman sets her eyes on opening a boatyard business where she’ll craft boats for a living. However, she lacks business sense, boat-making experience, and wads of cash to start things off (capital).
Psst: Of course, business sense can be picked up as you go (*cough* not that I would know ANYTHING about that).
One of the most important lessons from this book is the need for contracts between you and the people you are working with in business. Not to mention the need for an extra-cushioned emergency fund if you’re just starting a business and don’t have another source of income coming in. There’s also a nice introduction to the idea of business insurance.
Your child may have thought about wanting to start a business, or shown some interest in running a lemonade stand. For me and my friend, it was starting a bean bag business (not much demand in them…nor supply, for that matter, as we slacked off on production). Bottom line? I would have loved to have read these books before and while going through that bean bag business (a total flop, by the way. But oh, the fun we had!).
So, get your kid reading! Who knows where it might lead them.