As the summer heats up, you'll inevitably see plenty of neighborhood kids hawking their wares -- a 25-cent cup of lemonade.But that's not the only small business young ones are getting into. Kids are discovering options with low start-up costs, and are quickly becoming the next wave of entrepreneurs. The book Better Than a Lemonade Stand: Small Business Ideas for Kids was even written by one: 15-year-old Daryl Bernstein. Running their own business can teach children important financial management and planning skills. And even if your kids don't seem to have the entrepreneurial spirit, there are plenty of ways to help them get started.
The programs have a real impact on students. Mary Arnold of Japlin, Mo., has taught BizWorld to fifth-graders in an independent school for five years. "Each year when I teach BizWorld, I really see it open up an awareness of how economics play such an important role in our everyday lives. Before the classes, students only thought of economics as something they study in social studies, and not having anything to do with the food or the products they choose to buy," says Arnold. The organization has even garnered the attention of American Express ( AXP), which presented BizWorld with a $25,000 grant. Google ( GOOG) has offered free advertising for the company, and Merrill Lynch ( MER) is a sponsor as well.
NFTE (Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship) is geared towards introducing entrepreneurship to low-income youths and training teachers using its specialized curriculum. "Entrepreneurship education help kids by enhancing business education and life skills and teaching them to think like entrepreneurs so they can take control of their future," says Connie Jones, director of integrated marketing and communications. The organization was founded by Steve Mariotti in 1987: After moving from the corporate sector to become a special-education teacher, Mariotti realized he could effectively motivate struggling students by teaching them how to start a business. Today it has reached more than 180,000 young people all over the world, says Jones.
One of the most successful graduates of NFTE's
BizCamp program is Omar Faruk, 19. Faruk has formed several Internet businesses, including BlueStreamCorp, which helps start-ups and nonprofit organizations build Web sites. Faruk started BlueStreamCorp when he was only 16 years old. Back then, he says, people did not take him that seriously. But he didn't focus on that; rather, he immersed himself in his business by doing everything from getting clients over the phone and designing the Web site to managing accounts. Nadia Campbell, 23, another graduate of NFTE's courses, started her own nonprofit organization, Victorian Hands Foundation, which promotes intergenerational partnerships between the elderly and youth volunteers. NFTE taught Campbell many skills in areas like organization, finances, team building, networking and experience. It also gave her the opportunity to attend several industry conferences, such as a nonprofit boot camp run through Craigslist. Corporate sponsors in the financial realm, including Goldman Sachs ( GS) and Oppenheimer ( OPY), also support NFTE -- the program's graduates are primed for a strong future in the business world. In addition, there are ways to help kids online on their journey through entrepreneurship. Kids4Kids is an information center and search engine, for kids and by kids, and has information for youths who want to start their own businesses. Here, young entrepreneurs can learn about financing and ownership or even sign up for a "Wall Street for Kids" newsletter, which explains the basics of companies and investing. The phrase "wait until you're older" is no longer valid. It's possible to start a business at any age; all young businesspeople need is a dream and a bit of persistence.