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Sky Truly is the Limit for Child Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship and Innovation Editor Mutiyat Ade-Salu gives detailed tips and amazing resources to help your child become an early entrepreneur

Entrepreneurship and Innovation Editor Mutiyat Ade-Salu gives detailed tips and amazing resources to help your child become an early entrepreneur…

 

Growing up, printed magazines like Ebony and Black Enterprise were my oracles on how to make it in America. In 1999, I remember the American magazine Ebony featured several adults in their 20s and 30s  in an article titled “Success Stories of Young Entrepreneurs.” Little did I know that soon  a “young entrepreneur” could be younger than 20.  That same year, Black Enterprise magazine created Kidpreneurs News and Black Enterprise for Teens for pre-teen and teenaged audiences. It continued a tradition of introducing young entrepreneurs to clever ways of contributing to their community while getting a head start on their earning potential. Just this past March, the online news journal The Root unveiled it’s annual list of 25 Young Futurists, including young Africans Nicodemus Madehdou , Augusta Uwamanzu-Nna, and Toluwanimi Obiwole. There’s no reason Africans in the Diaspora cannot begin to support more of their children in starting their own businesses.

 

If you think about it, when’s the best time to risk it all? When you’re young and no one is depending on you for security. That’s why I think it’s a great idea for people to begin entrepreneurship when they’re children. Sacrifices still have to be made – like not enrolling in a sports team one year or hanging out at the mall – but the rewards are much greater. Rewards like a head start on savings, personal discipline, and work security can give a young entrepreneur a leg up on someone who begins entrepreneurship at an adult age.

 

Balancing Time with Schoolwork

Of course, many parents may be worried that entrepreneurial endeavors will distract their kids from maintaining their GPA or pursuing a college degree. But if they think of it as an endeavor to help their child help themselves to pay for college, they might feel differently!

 

For example, a teenager can set aside 15-20 hours per week to selling simple baked items, like brownies. Over the course of 4 years, they could potentially earn $50,000 to put towards a college degree or more advanced business venture.

 

Sample Weekly Schedule for Brownie Business

Day Time Benefits
Sunday 2-6pm

 

Leaves time to worship in the morning, eat dinner, and get ready for the new schoolweek.
Monday -Thursday  4-6pm

 

Leaves time for dinner and homework
Friday

 

4-6pm

 

Additional Option:

7-9pm 

No school the next day; leaves time for dinner
Saturday

 

2-6pm  No school the next day; leaves time for chores in the morning; dinner and homework at night
Total Time: 17 or 19 hours Flexibility around school and family activities

If your child spends 19 hours per week during the school year on their business, it will be nearly the same as holding down a part-time job of 20 hours with the added benefit of flexibility. Alternatively, they can spend 17 hours per week by subtracting 2 hours from Fridays. Of course, we can’t forget the extra time they’ll have to work on the business during Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring and Summer breaks.

 

Now let’s see, how much money they could make for college between the ages of 14 and 18 – a period of 4 years. Assuming you help your child start a brownie business with less than $100, they could make and assemble attractive brownie packages while using your own kitchen and utensils for free. It takes less than 30 minutes to bake 3 pans of brownies from 3 brownie mix boxes costing $.50 to $2.00 a box. If you cut each pan into 6 large brownies, that gives them 18 brownies to sell at a suggested $2 a piece. With a 2 hours window to sell, that could mean $36 in sales each day.

 

Check out the potential profits over the years below if all revenues are saved:

 

Potential Profits from Brownie Business Over 4 Years

Year & Age Schoolyear Earnings

(10 months)

Summertime Earnings

(2 months)

Total Earnings

(1 year)

1: Age 14 $10,800 $2,160 $12,960
2: Age 15 $10,800 $2,160 $12,960
3: Age 16 $10,800 $2,160 $12,960
4: Age 17 $10,800 $2,160 $12,960
5: College Time! $43,200 $8,640 $51,840

(4 years)

 

Even if your child only sells on 1 day of the week for 2 hours, they could make $1,440 in one schoolyear plus $288 in one summer. That’s $1,728 for one whole year. At the end of 4 years they could save $6,912 – enough money for their first semester at an out-of-state university. (That first semester could leave you enough time to catch up on your savings, too!)

 

Going the entrepreneurial route also helps your child earn more money per hour than holding a regular minimum wage job. (The above calculation amounted to sales of $18 per hour.)

 

Compare to the current minimum wage rates:

 

Current Minimum Wage in U.S. States with Largest Populations of Africans

State Wage
Texas $7.25/hr
California $10.50/hr
Maryland $8.75/hr
New York $9.70-11/hr
New Jersey $8.44/hr
Illinois $8.25/hr
Georgia $5.15-7.50/hr

 

In looking at the above rates and comparing them to the cost of living, you can see why more and more Americans have chosen to go the entrepreneurial route.

 

Resources for Child Entrepreneurs

Magazines and books are not the only sources of information for young people interested in entrepreneurship. Organizations like the Young Entrepreneurship Academy (YEA) are too. YEA teaches middle and high school go-getters how to start and run their own, real businesses.

 

Watch below to hear from current students about how YEA has shaped them:

 

 

Also, read this featured story from Entrepreneur magazine  about one of the programs most successful alumnae: a 14- year old girl who made $200,000 in sales her very first year.

 

If your child is a new entrepreneur, also look into enrolling them in the local chapter of the NAACP (National Advancement for the Association of Colored People). Every year the NAACP holds the ACT-SO competition for high school students of African descent at the local and national levels in various artistic, scientific, and business fields – including entrepreneurship. There are cash prizes for the winners and unforgettable learning experiences with fellow students of color. (My fashion designer sister and I are both products and winners of the competition in New York City.) This year’s national competition will be held July 20-23 in Baltimore, Maryland.

 

If your child is already an experienced entrepreneur, consider signing them up for the Startup Open Global Competition for Young Entrepreneurs. The deadline is September 30th. Incorporation is not required and the grand prize included a trip to Istanbul, Turkey!

 

Becoming a child entrepreneur can be as easy as starting with home-based baking business or complex as manufacturing equipment overseas for import to the U.S. Either way the benefits outweigh the risks when a child has the support of their parents and organizations dedicated to cultivating young entrepreneurs. Don’t allow disbelief or lack of energy dissuade you from opening up your child to the idea of forming their own business. If it’s founded on an activity or product they love, that business is bound to become a meaningful part of your family’s legacy and a source of pride and income for their own future family. With the resources I’ve given, the African parent can go from shouting, “Where’s your book?” to “Where’s your business plan?”

 

Mutiyat Ade-Salu
Mutiyat Ade-Salu is the contributing editor for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She is also an actress, vocalist, writer, and budding entrepreneur. The playwright of Sunny Came Home and the creator of #FirstGenIAm, Miutiyat was named 2016’s Miss Black New York Coed. Follow her on Twitter @tiaadetweets.
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