Young people have always been a force to be reckoned with when it comes to social entrepreneurship.
For many young would-be entrepreneurs--just like adults--the hardest part isn't coming up with the idea. It's getting that idea off the ground, and transforming it into a viable business.
If you've got a kid entrepreneur in your life, here are a few tips to help them get started.
Suggest that they try out new hobbies and activities to find something they're passionate about.
For kids who have a cause they want to support but no business idea yet, trying out new hobbies and activities can be a great way to discover something that sparks their interest.
From volunteering at a local organization to trying out a new sport, you never know what could lead to a great social enterprise idea!
Support kids' interests by encouraging their curiosity.
One 11-year-old entrepreneur, named Sri Nihal Tammana, developed his nonprofit organization when he learned about a frequent cause of landfill fires: used batteries.
With some help from his parents, he founded the nonprofit organization Recycle My Battery. Through Recycle My Battery, he's recruited more than 45 other kids to help him recycle over 38,000 used batteries, thanks to a partnership with the country's largest battery recycling company, Call2Recycle.
But Tammana isn't stopping there, despite the huge impact he and his fellow team members have already made. "There are three billion batteries that are thrown in the trash every year just in the U.S., and 15 billion batteries that are thrown in the trash worldwide," Tammana says. "With the help of all my team, I would like to bring this number down to 0 to make the earth a better place to live."
Be ready to lend your own adult support, and help them find support from other professionals if needed.
No matter how talented or precocious a kid entrepreneur may be, he or she will always need help in some area of their business. After all, no child is born knowing about cash flow or how to manage a team. If they're struggling in one area, you may want to help them find a book that can help teach them what they need to know, or offer to connect them to someone in your professional network who might be willing to help.
In Tammana's case, he was able to call on the support of parents and teachers to help him conduct a market study before he started Recycle My Battery. "I talked to our family friends and asked them what they are doing with regards to used batteries. Out of 20 people, only two said that they are recycling them properly by throwing them in battery bins placed at their work location," he says. "All the other 18 said that they were throwing batteries in the trash. That was when I was 100 percent confident that I could go ahead with creating a nonprofit organization."
Of course, as any parent knows, there's a fine line between being supportive and being overbearing. While offering support (both practical and moral!) to kid entrepreneurs is crucial, it's also important to grant them the independence they need to figure things out on their own and make their own decisions, as many of the most successful entrepreneurs say.
Let them fail.
It's a hard thing to do, but letting your children fail teaches them an invaluable lesson: that failure doesn't have to be catastrophic. It's a critical element in building resilient kids--kids who have the self-confidence to get up and try again when something doesn't work out. And that's not just a good lesson for business, but a good lesson for life.
Nurturing a child's entrepreneurial skills can help them develop self-confidence, resilience, and creativity, among so many other valuable attributes. And these kids grow up into people who not only believe they can improve the world but actually do. Just take it from Tammana: "If I can make the earth a better place to live, you can. If you can make the earth a better place to live, we all can!"