Manage the outcome
All parents hope that their children will be successful. But succeeding in business requires taking risks — that sometimes fail.
“You can’t be afraid to fail,” says Rappaport. “I think entrepreneurs are more motivated and higher risk-takers than the general public. If your child is afraid of failure, avoid starting a business. But if not, encourage them. If they succeed, great. If not, try again. You learn more from failure than success.”
And if the child is successful, he or she will require parental advice to figure out how to use or save profit and how to move forward with the business.
For Luke Abell’s parents, that meant allowing their son to leave the traditional school setting so he could focus on his business. “I was always interested in technology, and it was tough for me to focus in school,” he says. “All I wanted to do was work on my business.”
Starting with what would have been his sophomore year in high school, Abell switched to a home-school program, taking classes at Essex Community College, and focusing on building Abell Tech.
With several successful companies under his belt, Abell believes he’s made the right decision regarding schooling. “If you want to run a successful business when you’re young,” he says, “you have to mature a little quicker. Parents need to have an open mind about the possibilities.
“Don’t be afraid to jump in and try it,” he says. “Once you see results, it’s really exciting.”
Kids with an itch to start their own businesses often start with small local ventures like these:
• Lawn service: Leaf-raking in the fall and general cleanup after storms are good jobs for kids of all ages. Older children also can cut grass and shovel snow.
• Baby-sitting: This is a tried-and-true starter job. Many babysitters start young, gaining experience as mother’s helpers before taking certification classes and baby-sitting on their own.
• Pet-sitting: Watching pets for neighbors on vacation and walking dogs for clients who work long days is a great way for animal lovers to learn responsibility.
• Lemonade & snack stand: Running a snack stand is an excellent way to help children of all ages learn about the importance of location and the concept of profit-and-loss — with a small financial commitment from parents.
• Yard sale: Selling gently used books and toys as a part of a community event teaches kids about marketing and sales. More ambitious and older kids may even enjoy scouting items at flea markets or auctions to resell on auction websites like eBay.
• Computer assistance: From checking for viruses to scanning old photos, kids can take advantage of their tech savviness, marketing their abilities to relatives and neighbors without free time or computer skills.
Before your child launches a business, check out these websites for guidance:
Teaching Kids Business: teachingkidsbusiness.com/how-to-start-your-own-business.htm
National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship: nfte.com
Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation Checklist for New Businesses: dat.state.md.us/sdatweb/checklist.html