I’m thrilled to be teaming up with iD Tech, the world leader in STEM education, to empower the next generation of entrepreneurs. We’ve launched two courses, Startup Camp and Entrepreneurship, designed to inspire kids to launch their very own business ventures and develop real-world entrepreneurial skills.
As a businessman, and, even more importantly, as a father, I know from experience that entrepreneurship is a lifelong journey. What’s the best time to start kids on that journey?
Think about it. Kids are natural entrepreneurs—my daughters remind me of this on a regular basis with their negotiating skills! Every kid has interests, passions, opinions, and an innate curiosity about how the world works, all of which are essential to building a business. The key is to channel these assets into valuable learning experiences.
Trust me on this: the lessons I learned from shoveling snow and selling school supplies as a kid directly translated to launching FUBU and help me continue to grow as an entrepreneur to this day.
These skills and life lessons can (and should) be learned at a young age. And far too often, you won’t see those skills featured and nurtured in typical school curriculum.
It’s time to step outside the box.
The kids who’ve nailed it on Shark Tank and the inspirational young people who participated in my summer iD Tech course are proof that, yes, kids can succeed as entrepreneurs. My goal is to provide the guidance and encouragement needed to get more kids in the game.
So, what’s the first step? How can kids stay motivated to pursue their dream of running their own company someday?
To answer those questions and more, I’ll let you in on a sneak preview of my new courses. Here are five things I wish I knew as I was starting out, and am now so excited to pass on to budding entrepreneurs.
5 Essential Pieces of Advice for Kid Entrepreneurs
As any entrepreneur knows, there’s no guarantee of success. With that said, there are best practices that are absolutely worth bearing in mind whether you’re starting a business at age 12 or 52!
I’ve learned from successes throughout my career, but I’ve learned even more from challenges and stumbling blocks. In my new courses, I’ve distilled those lessons to give kids a head start in the exciting field of entrepreneurship and beyond.
Here are some key “must-haves” for any kid looking to start their own business.
Be passionate about your venture
I always look for that spark of passion; the “why” behind a brilliant business idea. Kids should absolutely start here.
Starting with a personal passion, whether that’s fashion, video games, or a cause that’s near to your heart, is essential both to getting an idea off the ground and persevering through inevitable challenges along the way.
So, when kids develop a business concept, they should pick something they really care about. After all, when they’re excited about their project, it’s more likely that other people will be, too!
Research and find what people want
This is where kids’ unique perspectives can really come in handy. Young people tend to have their finger on the pulse of new trends and innovative technology; often this awareness can translate into that fresh, new idea.
How do you make that leap from something you love to something people want, and will ultimately want to buy? I asked myself this constantly while building FUBU, and it’s still at the forefront of every venture I take on today.
The answer lies in research: research into what’s already on the market and needs that aren’t currently being met. Next, kids should take their research a step further: the real work comes in seeking viable opportunities to make strategic improvements on existing products while analyzing the potential demand for the next big thing.
Here’s an example: there are so many snack brands out there now that it'd be difficult to try to take on competitors in that market, right? Recreating the Oreo or Cheeto “as is” would be pointless. But what if you could focus on an opportunity that has yet to be filled. A hard-to-find flavor? A tasty but underappreciated snack food? Something that’s delicious and aligns with the latest dietary trends?
This is where the research can take kids’ interests to the next level: a unique product or service that consumers will be excited about.
Build financial literacy
This really should be common sense, or cents, if you will, but is often overlooked.
No matter what business you’re in, business is business, and financing and money are absolutely critical to building it. Unfortunately, this core set of skills and wealth of knowledge doesn’t often appear in traditional K-12 schools, so it’s up to kids and their parents to seek out financial literacy resources and expertise.
Granted, kids might not be ready to build complex financial models or make savvy investment decisions, but they certainly can learn through the experience of a lemonade stand, monetizing their Roblox game, or providing a simple service like shoveling snow (I have it on good authority that kids can learn a lot from doing that!).
Even at the most basic level, financial education at a young age can provide an invaluable foundation to be built upon as kids mature. Even after decades of experience, I still learn something new every day, and the sooner kids build the habit of lifelong learning, the better off they will be in business and in life!
Develop an unforgettable brand
Nike, Instagram, Starbucks.
Ok, so what exactly do coffee, social media, and sports have in common?
True, these are completely different businesses, but ask yourself: did each of these brand names summon a clear image in your mind? They certainly do for me, and that’s the magic of an unforgettable brand at work.
Every successful business is instantly recognizable by their name and logo, and most consumers will remember a great advertisement even after turning off their TV or phone. That’s why I’m so excited for kids to learn all about Photoshop in this new course; graphic design often holds the key to unlocking a brand's power to stand out from a crowd.
Whether through sketching with pen and paper or using the latest design software, kids should spend time designing and refining a memorable logo so that when they’re ready to spread the word, their great brand can do most of the talking.
Find, grow, and engage your community
They say two heads are better than one: this adage is never more true than in the business world. And two perspectives should really just be the beginning!
Finding a community means finding consumers, colleagues, and mentors who'll help the business grow. I encourage all young entrepreneurs to seek out a community of like minds and diverse perspectives as they develop and iterate their ideas.
These perspectives can come from peers, teachers, role models, and other people they know who have valuable knowledge to bring to the table. Take the time to get their opinions and ask for their advice, and before you know it, kids will have started to build their network—something that is truly priceless to any aspiring entrepreneur.
Join me this fall!
Throughout this course, kids will engage with each of these five essentials and so much more. Personally, I can’t wait to see kids turn their passions into business concepts that'll lead to a final pitch ready to impress their peers, family and friends, and even potential investors.
Ready to dive in? Learn more about my entrepreneurship courses, Entrepreneurship for teens 13-17 and Startup Camp for kids 10-12, and let’s start a game-changing journey together.