Home Articles How a group of 10 year-old entrepreneurs schooled me about business

How a group of 10 year-old entrepreneurs schooled me about business

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I help out with an initiative called Club Kidpreneur. It’s a fantastic organisation that teaches basic business skills to school kids aged eight to 10. Founded by serial entrepreneur Creel Price, Club Kidpreneur’s goal is to empower young’uns to follow suit later in life.

At the conclusion of the eight-week Kidpreneur course, all the participants head to a public market to launch their businesses. Recent products have included: cookies, traditional lemonade, book marks, cards, buttons, glassware and paper airplanes.

The amazing thing about workshopping business ideas with children is their out-of-the-box thinking. When I became involved in Kidpreneur, I naturally expected that I would be sharing my wisdom. I never expected to be schooled by 10 year-olds.

1. It can pay to change your business model in mid-flight

One of our Kidpreneurs was selling paper airplanes.

Now, when we were working through the course, us “adult-preneurs” had our doubts on his business and gently tried to persuade him to pick another product. (I mean, aside from mum and dad, who’s going to buy a paper airplane?) But he persisted.

Come market day, after 45 minutes he approached me and said he’d sold more than three quarters of his stock of 40 planes. I suggested he change (increase) his price (experimentation is a big part of the course), but instead he decided to change his business model.

He started a competition where, rather than purchasing a plane, you paid to enter a throwing competition. If you hit the target you got to keep the plane. In the last 45 minutes he managed to double his profits.

Often, as entrepreneurs, we can get unnecessarily fixated on our original business models. It’s in the plan, right! But success comes from constant adaptation. This 10 year-old (and his incredible imagination) created a soaring business model.

If he’d followed our advice, his business would never have left the tarmac.

2. When handed lemons, create lemonade… then franchise!

Ok, I didn’t really learn this from a 10 year old, but it was fascinating to watch it happen within a 1.5 hour period.

Another of our Kidpreneurs was selling freshly squeezed lemonade. Towards the end of the day, some of the ‘grown up market stalls’ decided to throw the towel in, pack up and go home.

Quickly identifying an opportunity, our Kidpreneur sent his brothers out to setup ‘franchises’ on the now vacant tables.

Each brother would collect 50% commission for each cup sold and he would continue to make the product at “head office” (his own stall table). Very shortly, he had established three satellite tables, with every ‘franchisee’ wearing his branded t-shirt, with a yellow lemon logo on the front.

The market was suddenly filled with a blur of ‘runners’ sprinting between the franchises collecting money and picking up full lemonade jugs from our Kidpreneur, who was now wholesaler and franchisor.

This is sometimes called the art of ‘leverage’. No entrepreneur can do everything. Successful business builders find ways to help others profit from doing their work.

3. Forget about the ‘what ifs’

One of the wonderful things about watching Kidpreneurs work their own business is that they never worry about the ‘what ifs’.

I think adults can learn an important lesson from this. Sometimes in business we need to take the plunge; sometimes there’s such a thing as thinking about a problem for too long.

There is a big difference between real risks and perceived risks. Kids can spot a real risk quite quickly. As adults, we often make up the perceived risks.

So, next time you need some entrepreneurial advice, why not ask a 10 year-old? Or, perhaps volunteer to become a Club Kidpreneur mentor in your local area? (Just drop me a line through the Anthill contact page or leave a comment below.)

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