This year I am inspired to write about some very special entrepreneurs in honor of Small Business Saturday: children. It’s hard to find exact numbers, since a kid with a dog-walking or leaf-raking business is unlikely to file an IRS statement as a LLC but if you take a look around you “these kids today” are doing some pretty amazing things!
I first started thinking about children in business when I came across this story about four siblings who live an hour or so from me and own their own wildly successful blackberry farm. The children, ages 10-16, began their project with a start-up loan from dad, which he explained he expected them to pay back with interest. Not only did they pay their debt they also gave generously to their church, saved for their futures and got a nice chunk of spending money as well.
Not long after I read about them I saw 10-year-old Abby on Facebook. She was looking for a way to earn some spending money, instead of trying to mooch it off Mom. Since that first time I saw her online I’ve seen her at at least 3 different craft shows with hundreds of gorgeous items, from hair bows to business card holders to purses, all made from duct tape. This girl’s been putting in the hours for sure!
Most recently I saw Abby at the Yuletide Craft Show in Blissfield, MI and there was a whole section of children who had worked hard to create something beautiful and were working hard to market their creations.
Among them were Ashley who had made a whole table full of bracelets on her Rainbow Loom, including some that would be a perfect fit on an American Girl doll and some that looked just like Minions from Despicable me.
Rylee and Sienna had been busy on the Rainbow Loom as well, filling an entire table with super-cute bracelets in every color and style you could imagine! My favorite were the “ladder” bracelets. I loved the texture of them.
Emma had put her energies into baking “people crackers for animals.” The adorable little dog snacks were selling like crazy as were her hand-sewn kitty toys. And check this out… the profits were going to benefit the animals being cared for by the Lenawee Humane Shelter.
As I prepared to write this post I realized that there are kids all around me who are hard at work with their own businesses. My nephew, Nick, designs websites. He’s not a kid any more, but he was when he started. My friend, Rebecca is also in college now but she and her sister, Hannah, both had their own businesses before they graduated high school. Just a few days ago one of the other bloggers I follow posted on Facebook that her son was making and selling special warming pillows to earn extra money.
So the next time you hear someone complaining about “these kids today,” consider the position the children of today are in. For the first time in our nation’s history most kids do not live with both parents. Most children attend public schools that are suffering more and more cut backs. They have to go through metal detectors to get to class in the morning and from the time they are preschoolers they are taught that there is a chance a gunman could burst into the school. They are facing futures where there is no longer any promise of a job after college. If they can find a job, chances are good that it will not offer benefits such as retirement or pensions like previous generations had. They are growing up in a world where the things that they need to know today in order to survive are completely obsolete tomorrow.
They have no choice but to be adaptive, innovative, creative, organized and quick-witted. They are bright and they see that they cannot rely on government nor on their employers to take care of them. They need to be independent.
And they are meeting that challenge beautifully.
Are they rebellious and weird and obsessed with technology that seemed totally unneccessary (or even unthought of) when you were a child? Well… yeah. Every generation of young people are like that. Even Socrates thought the children of his time were punks.
All in all, though, “These kids today” are a pretty amazing generation. If you get the chance, perhaps you could support one of them in their efforts to make a better tomorrow.
If you know a young entrepreneur, please tell us about them in the comments section so that we can support them as well!
Additional Resources for young businesspeople:
Teaching Kids Business – How to start your own business for kids
These Kids Mean Business – A PBS documentary centered on budding entrepreneurs across the country and the programs created to foster their interest and understanding of the free market.
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