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Help kids find the entrepreneur within

Kids have great imaginations. If left alone in a room with nothing, they will come up with new games on their own. If you teach them about money and challenge them to save, you’ll be surprised how quickly they become entrepreneurial.

I’ve watched and encouraged my kids try to develop different businesses with various levels of success. My daughter (and youngest) used her earnings to build a baking business with a friend. Both homeschooled, they decided to use their flexible schedule to bake cupcakes between the end of their lessons and the end of public school. They then set up shop on the sidewalk between the neighborhood and the school and sold them to the public-school kids on their way home.

Not to be outdone, our middle son found a better way. He biked to Target, bought a bulk pack of Smarties and Snickers bars, and sold them individually on the same sidewalk. Why put all that work into cupcakes when you can make a bigger margin on someone else’s work?

Later, the scene at dinner was similar to any mafia-head famiglia meeting ever held. There was discussion of who owned what territory on what days.

In the end they never reached much of a conclusion because none of them really wanted to work every day anyhow. After a few days, the work started to feel like work, plus they ended up eating most of their profits.

What’s the point in telling this story? It starts with talking to your kids about money. As they learn, challenge them to save.

Encourage your kids to be entrepreneurial. It helps them begin to incorporate the concept into their daily activities, whether it be playing make-believe or actually trying to start their own little business. It helps them begin to speak the language.

If we are going to teach them the language, it includes teaching them the difference between "sales" and "profits".

I remember selling lemonade and cookies at a neighborhood garage sale. I "made" $20 and had the money spent in my head when my Mom burst my bubble. She reminded me that I didn't pay her for any of the materials and owed her for the supplies. I don't remember my response, but I do remember that she never collected. Moms are good that way sometimes.

Mom was also good at teaching the lesson that you only "made money" if you brought in more than you paid out.

Take it a step further and teach kids to plan ahead. Take them to do the shopping themselves, with their own money. They will need to budget out how much they can spend, and also know how much they will need to make to earn a profit. This will help them set a goal for how many they think they can sell. After they are done selling, help them calculate the profit.

What else can you do to make kids think like an entrepreneur?

Talk to them about businesses you see every day around you. Every transaction has a story behind it.

Watch Shark Tank with your kids. Learn what real entrepreneurship looks like and how to calculate what a business will sell for. You'll even see some kids on the show from time to time.

Share stories you see about young entrepreneurs. There are kids doing amazing things in the world of business every day.

Depending upon where you live, you may even be able to find an "Entrepreneur Camp" or similar type program in your local area. A quick google search of my local area found a college sponsored Kids Entrepreneur Academy 20 minutes away. You might be surprised what you find in your area.

If you do nothing else, encourage your kids to think follow their imaginations around the things they love, and help them see the business applications.

For more ideas on how to plant the seed of entrepreneurship in kids, I encourage you to check out and their book Kidpreneurs: Young Entrepreneurs with Big Ideas. You'll find great hands-on ideas to inspire your kids or students.

As we continue to find resources, we will share them in our emails, social media and blog.

Our website features many of the great financial literacy resources we've found so far. Check them out at



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