Even the word entrepreneur sounds alluring. Entrepreneur, wow. The best place to start with your young budding business child is with the word. Ask your child to choose the best definition:

An entrepreneur is:

1. Someone who goes inside to pray.
2. Someone who creates his/her own business.
3. Some slippery French food.

If your child picked number two, they are on the right track. The dictionary says an entrepreneur is “a person who organizes and manages a business undertaking, assuming the risk for the sake of profit.” They left out the part about waking up at 3:00 a.m. in a cold sweat wondering why you gave up your steady paycheck for this.

**You’ve heard of the two-step: This is the six-step.**

Experts say that there are six steps an entrepreneur has to take to start a business:

1. See an opportunity.
2. Organize a plan.
3. Start the business.
4. Assume the risk.
5. Oversee management.
6. Hopefully, make a profit.

Before you start bugging your 16-year-old about the fact that Bill Gates had already made his first real money by this age, encourage your business-hopeful to speak to some real entrepreneurs. Help your child to set-up appointments with the local business people who have created and run their own small business.

This series of questions can be used as a basis for some of the information you want your child to gather:


– How did you get the idea for your business?
– How did you get started?
– Were you ever afraid you would fail?
– What problems did you have to deal with?
– What advice do you have for me?

The most important quality in an entrepreneur, and frankly in life, is to believe in yourself. The rest you can learn. A winner always knows “he/she can do it”, and success will come to those who believe they will be a success. The next step is to go out and do it.

When you look at some of our most well-known entrepreneurs, inventors, artists, and world leaders, you will discover that often they exhibited entrepreneurial traits as youngsters.

**Bill Gates**

Founder of Microsoft. Bill started his first business at age 15. He and a friend wrote a traffic program called TRAF-O-DATA and made $20,000.

**Dave Thomas**

Founder of Wendy’s Restaurant. Dave started in food service at age 15 and today there are over 6,000 restaurants.

**Oprah Winfrey**

Oprah gave her first speech in public at age two and a half. She decided at age 12 that she was going to earn her living talking when she was paid $500 to speak at a church.

The message…you are never too young to follow your dream.

Entrepreneurs seek out opportunities. The idea that you have does not have to be gigantic, like figuring out how to patch the hole in the ozone layer. In fact, most entrepreneurial ideas are small ideas. They are ideas that satisfy a need that the entrepreneur has uncovered.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “There is no prosperity…or great material wealth of any kind, that if you trace it home, you will find it rooted in a thought of some individual.”

The successful entrepreneurs seek out that thought, that dream, and go for it. One of my favorite examples of seeking out opportunities is how Mary Kay Ash, of Mary Kay Cosmetics, got started.

As a single mom, supporting three children in the 1950’s, Mary Kay was selling Stanley Home Products. One night at a Stanley party she met some women who had beautiful skin. When Mary Kay inquired about their secret, she was told that they were using a special hide-tanning cream their father, a leather tanner, had developed.

The rest is history…Mary Kay, years later, purchased the rights to the hide-tanning cream and it was the basis of her line of skin-care products. (She was also smart enough not to call it hide-tanning cream!)

– Ask your child to choose an answer to this question.
– What would you do if I told you that there was a $10.00 bill lying on your dresser?
– Argue with your little brother about whose job it was to pick up money on the dresser.
– Grab the TV remote and start surfing.
– Beat tracks to the bedroom to get the $10.00.

After your kids stop saying, “Duh, I’d of course go pick up the $10 bucks,” tell them that, right next door, if they’d stop surfing, there are lots of $10.00 bills to be found. Not by looking through your dresser, but by creating money-making opportunities and earning the $10.00. Without being creative, your kids could do such thing as mow lawns, baby sit, walk dogs, clean-up yards where dogs live, wash cars, weed gardens, or tutor kids in sports or music.

Your children can create their own entrepreneurial opportunities by watching for:

– People who are too busy to do their own chores, like ironing, taking trash to the curb, and painting fences.
– People who don’t like to do certain tasks, like shoveling snow, washing windows, weeding flower beds, and bathing the dog.
– Things that get dirty over and over again, like cars, pools, driveways, lawn furniture, golf balls, etc.
– Ways you can use your special talents and give lessons, like music, rollerblading, language, sports or even cooking.

The best thing is to encourage your child to create a dream and to follow it. Put your heart and soul into your business, but if it doesn’t work, you need to know when to give up and look for another opportunity. Remember not to think of giving up as failing, but as learning lessons, which will help with the next opportunity.

Opportunity will constantly change – even with the seasons. What your child can do in the winter will change when spring and summer arrive.

Keep telling your children the words of Harvey Mackay, one of America’s well-known entrepreneurs, “find something you love to do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”