You might think there’s nothing cuter than a business-minded kid working a quaint lemonade stand. But there are young hustlers out there who have taken their humble ventures and turned them into lucrative businesses. These kid entrepreneurs know that age doesn’t have to be a barrier to making, saving and sharing money. Here are the best money tips these successful young entrepreneurs have learned.
Age doesn't matter; persistence does.
“You’re never too young to make money,” said Lily Sturtevant, a 12-year-old entrepreneur who creates custom string art designs. She started her Instagram business, Art For Your Soul, a year ago with the support of her parents. “I started this business when I was 11, and I’ve been pretty successful. I think persistence helps.”
Save toward a goal.
“I recommend saving money toward a goal,” Sturtevant said. She saved the first round of money she earned with her creations to buy an iPhone 6s. She recommends saving with something specific in mind because “it builds confidence that you can do it again.”
Stay social media savvy.
“It’s a good idea to use social media to sell your stuff,” Sturtevant said. The digital native understands how to use the power of the internet to earn money online and reach a wider audience. She advertises her products on Instagram and Facebook and draws inspiration for new ideas from Pinterest.
Believe in yourself.
Moziah “Mo” Bridges was only 9 years old when he started selling bow ties on Etsy because wearing them made him happy. After he and his mother appeared on the TV show “Shark Tank,” the young entrepreneur’s business blew up, catching the attention of national brands. His advice for other budding entrepreneurs is simple: Believe in yourself. Bridges told the blog Beaut&Beast Co. in 2017 that people “can reach their dreams by believing in themselves, looking for opportunities, working hard and [using the support of] family and friends.”
Donating keeps you humble.
Bridges is not only an entrepreneur but a philanthropist, too. In 2014, he spent $1,600 on 10 kids from his hometown of Memphis, Tenn., ensuring they could attend Glenview Summer Camp, HuffPost reported.
According to HuffPost, Bridges wrote: “Memphis is ranked the highest of child hunger; most kids only get a meal when school is in session. At the community center, the kids get a meal and play time. Giving back to my community really helped me feel humble. It also makes me smile because I see other kids smiling and enjoying the camp.”
Find good business partners.
At 9 years old, Me & the Bees Lemonade founder and CEO Mikaila Ulmer scored a $60,000 investment on the ABC show “Shark Tank.” Now 14, the young CEO told CNBC Make It that business owners shouldn’t try to do it alone: “I’ve learned that it’s important to find good partners and mentors to help you along the way because it’s really hard to grow your company when it’s just you.”
Work hard for the money.
Ulmer’s parents taught her at an early age about the importance of working hard in order to earn money. She’s since taken heed of her parents’ advice and turned her brilliant ideas into a successful business.
“As I grew up — and I’m still growing up — my parents didn’t buy anything for me,” Ulmer said. “They made sure that I worked for that money. So if I wanted this toy, they would have me selling lemonade at the business fair or doing chores.”
Let the passion drive you.
Who understands better than kids the value of having fun? Even when there’s serious work involved, Ulmer noted that every prospective business owner should “start a company that you are passionate about, that’s fun to you and that’s unique.”
Find a new market.
Zollipops is the brainchild of 13-year-old Alina Morse of Wolverine Lake, Mich. The teeth-friendly lollipops are sold by prominent retailers like Amazon, Walmart and Whole Foods.
Morse’s father told the Chicago Tribune in 2017 that the sugar-free candies served as the answer to a question she posed to him when she was younger: “Why can’t we have candy that’s good for you?” Morse’s father encouraged her to take her curiosity further and research that possibility.
“I just thought it would be a good market because there’s not really healthy candies out there,” Morse said.
Morse did her research, eventually developing her own prototype using natural sweeteners like xylitol and erythritol to create tasty candies that are easy on the teeth. The natural sugar alternatives present in Zollipops reduce the risk of cavities and tooth decay.
Do something different.
Morse spoke to Swaay, a digital platform dedicated to empowering women entrepreneurs, about Zollipops outselling the popular lollipop brands Dum Dums and Blow Pops on Amazon. “It’s kind of crazy, being sold side by side with these brands, but to top them in sales is insane and beyond my wildest dreams. I’ve found that parents pay more to get something that their kids will benefit from. That’s something that we’re doing that nobody else has really caught on to yet,” Morse said.
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Follow your fun.
At age 16, Mercer Henderson has experienced more success than many adults. The 16-year-old founded two apps, Audiots and FriendIts, under the company 4GirlsTech. Audiots allows users to download “soundmojis” — little snippets of sound you can send by text. FriendIts allows teens to borrow and lend items from their closets. She told Entrepreneur, “If there is something you like to do, think about if other people like it too. Then try to create a more fun or simple way to do it.”
Stay positive and don’t worry about the competition.
Cory Nieves was only 6 years old when the idea for Mr. Cory’s Cookies came to him. He was tired of taking the bus to school and wanted to raise money for his mom, who couldn’t afford to buy a car. He started out selling hot cocoa and was so successful that his mother supported him as he expanded into cookies.
“You have to believe you can do can do it,” Nieves told Ebony in 2014. “I don’t believe in competition. I believe all of us in the cookie business have enough people out there to try all our products. There’s no room for negativity; you have to stay positive.”
Save your (birthday) money.
Fourteen-year-old Ahnicka Kjaer, founder of Hooves And Paws, her personal business that offers handmade collars, leashes and halters for dogs and horses, claims to have always been an entrepreneur. In 2014, Kjaer started selling Christmas wreaths made from cuttings of the trees on her Occidental, Calif., property. Then, through 4-H, she was exposed to an entrepreneurial program that got her thinking more widely.
The self-proclaimed animal lover found she was spending too much money on collars and halters to make her animals look cute — so she started to make her own. With the help of her grandparents, Kjaer obtained a sewing machine and used the birthday money she had saved up to get Hooves And Paws off the ground.
Reinvest your profits.
Kjaer realized she needed to develop a sizable inventory since she’s busy with school and homework during the week.
“I reinvest my profits into my inventory,” Kjaer said. “Every time I sell collars, I order more supplies.” She estimates that she has about 100 premade items that are ready to ship out at any given time. “During the school week, I don’t have to pull out my sewing machine.”
Don't ignore the power of a discount.
Matthew Fitch of Morgan Hill, Calif., began selling his art at the age of 4 when his mother turned some of his paintings into cards and sold them at a craft event. Now 12, this successful kid entrepreneur sells original paintings, including commissions, along with prints, cards, magnets, pins, bookmarks and mugs with his art on them locally at craft fairs and gift boutiques.
When sales slow down, Fitch said he “[offers] a discount to friends and family. This helps offload things that don’t sell as well. A lot of times, if people get a discount or for free, they tend to buy more.”
At holiday boutiques, Fitch said he’ll “often make a special, unique thing for friends and family only,” which he’ll give away for free, or throw in as a free gift if someone makes a large purchase.
Strive for a personal touch.
Face-to-face communication, especially in today’s digital age, has its distinct advantages in business, and Fitch finds that his sales increase when he’s there to make a personal connection. “One thing I’ve learned is if you try to be personable and speak face to face, people are more willing to buy.”
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