How to Become a Teen Entrepreneur
Do you remember what you wanted to be when you were a teenager? If you wanted to be a teen entrepreneur, did you understand what it would entail?
I recently came across some Quora questions about how to become a teen entrepreneur and was energized to see the questions and the answers getting posted. Should the answer be different for a teenager than it is for a grown adult? Probably not.
Quora had the following posted question: “As a teenager whose dream is to be an entrepreneur, what should I do in my spare time, other than gaming?”
Here was my response:
My short answer: go and start a business.
Maybe it’s as simple as a Facebook page where you can buy/sell/trade game tips (from the question I assumed you are into gaming). Or a different idea related to something you already do or are passionate about.
Start small, and you will learn the ropes as you go. Then you’ll have the learning under your belt for your next venture. Who knows? Maybe your idea will take off and be the “big idea”!
How to Nurture a Teen Entrepreneur
Ask the Right Questions
If you have a teen that is interested in starting his or her own business, help the teen think through the idea by asking questions. Rather than diving right into logistics like, “what is your business plan?” start by asking about goals.
Questions that will help your teen think through the idea include some of the following:
- What is your goal?
- How long do you think it will take to achieve?
- Who can help you achieve your goals?
- What steps do you think it will take?
- Do you need resources to launch your idea?
Talking through some of the high-level questions will get to some places your teen might get stuck. Don’t give the answer or immediately solve the teen’s problems. Instead, encourage him/her by continuing to ask questions and then giving space to learn.
Before you jump to solving problems, instead outline how you could be of help. An important part of entrepreneurship is creative problem-solving, self-reliance, and resiliency. If you give all the answers or provide the roadmap for success, the teen won’t learn and grow.
Areas to support the teen entrepreneur include the following:
Teens don’t have the life experiences to protect themselves from some big business mistakes.
Stay connected to the teen’s plans and make sure the teen isn’t getting into anything dangerous. Keep tabs on important things such as where the teen borrows money, spends large sums of money, who he/she interacts with to help, etc.
You want to give the teen the space to learn, but within a bubble of protection against financial ruin or someone that may take advantage of a teen entrepreneur.
Create Structured Check-Ins
Don’t assume the teen will check in if he/she has questions or problems. Create the structure of weekly check-ins so you can help where needed, and provide the guide rails to ensure the teen doesn’t go far down a detrimental dead end.
Outline a recurring agenda for the teen to follow. Items to cover include:
- What is new since the last time we talked?
- Where are you stuck?
- How much money have you spent?
- Who have you interacted with?
- What is coming up this week? Next week?
Like a new seedling, a teen entrepreneur needs attention and support while they grow. You can’t water once, walk away, and expect the teen to grow.
Where to Go for More Help
Rather than giving all the answers, encourage your teen to continue to network with others.
For example, even if you could help financially, tell the teen to go to neighbors or trusted friends to “pitch” their idea and ask for money. Hopefully, these people will ask new questions and be an additional support system for the teen as the project develops.
Help the teen to think within his/her own network, to come up with a list of people to connect with. The more people supporting the teen, the more he/she can thrive.
Give Room to Make Mistakes
Part of being an entrepreneur is learning as you go, and making mistakes. You may see the signs first, but it’s important to let the teen fail.
Create the space that allows the teen to safely explore and create alone. Checking in and turning to you as a mentor. But do not prevent a failure just to make it easier for the teen entrepreneur. Instead, be the safety net if there is a failure. And give advice on how to pick back up, and move on.
There are so many important life lessons from a failure. And far too many teens are protected from learning by parents or well-intended adults that shield them from making mistakes. Give the space for mistakes to be made, and new opportunities will arise in time.
Teen Entrepreneurs Are the Future
If a teen is interested in starting a new venture — support, but don’t meddle. Allow him/her to gain life’s valuable lessons while still providing a safety net from danger.
Entrepreneurship is a great opportunity for the teen to develop new skills and strengthen natural abilities too.
And you just may have the next Steve Jobs in your garage…in that case, you better get in writing that you want a percentage of their company.