Are your kids itching to earn money and explore their growing talents? Kara Anderson explains how homeschool, parenting, family relationships, and skill-building all merged when her 10-year-old daughter launched a small (successful!) candle-making company.
By Kara Anderson
During the summer, my daughter came to me and told me that she wanted to buy a computer. She’s a writer and poet, and she wanted a laptop. And she wanted to buy it herself.
My kids have always wanted jobs. They’ve asked to do lemonade stands, and to be dog walkers, which was a little outside of my comfort zone because I don’t let them go beyond our block. But my children becoming dog walkers basically meant I would become a dog walker supervisor, and I already have a job that I love, thankyouverymuch.
But this time, my daughter had another, bigger idea. She wanted to start a candle company.
Supporting Your Young Entrepreneur
My initial reaction to her request was excitement, quickly followed by mental list making. But as I watched her hopeful face, I knew she needed encouragement and support, not the kind of grown-up worry that we so often bring to situations.
“Awesome,” I said. “What do you need me to do?”
She proceeded to make her own lists. She would need supplies and shipping materials, and she would need start-up cash that she could pay back over time. She would need an adult with a credit card, and she would need a little mentoring.
I decided that this was going to count as a big part of our homeschooling for the month of October. That was the only way we were going to be able to prioritize the time it was going to take to start an entire company. And she was learning so much!
I thought back to using Your Business Math from Simply Charlotte Mason last year – it had clearly done its job. My girl had learned how to handle a lot of the financial ins-an-outs of running a business. And the rest became school.
A big part of my job became saying yes.
My daughter is 10, so one of the things she needed most was a driver. She wanted to compare prices to be sure that she was pricing her candles appropriately. Because she was so determined, she also asked for extended computer time – she researched online candle sellers and selling platforms and shipping methods.
Often I would head into her room late at night, only to find her on her Kindle, watching a YouTube business tutorial. I knew what she needed most was for me to value the research she was doing and see it as real, so I tried to say yes to her requests for more time, while keeping in mind that she is 10, so she still needs her beauty sleep.
Being The Bank
After carefully comparing prices on supplies between various sellers, my daughter knew exactly how much startup cash she needed to create her first batch of candles and to open her shop. She asked us for a small loan and came up with a plan to pay it back. We encouraged her to start small, so that it took her less time to make a true profit.
She also wanted to donate a portion of the proceeds, so she chose a charity and decided on a percentage based on the cost of her supplies and her price point.
In addition to being the bank, we tried to mentor her through the many financial decisions it takes to start a small business. But of course running a business is about more than just money…
Making The Most Of Resources
We wanted our girl to know that we supported our dream, so the rest of the family offered to help however we could. My son loves graphic design, so she asked him to help create a logo and business cards. I love photography, so I was put in charge of taking pictures throughout the process.
My husband is great at marketing, so he took a batch of candles to work and instantly sold all of his “samples!” He also became part of the shipping department, helping our daughter carefully wrap and label each candle.
Finally, when my daughter ran into a question she couldn’t answer, we tried to help her with research. The Internet was invaluable, but a few times, she needed to speak with a person, so we helped her connect with experts.
Once, when we were unsure which shipping company was the best bet, we even put out a call on Instagram and got great advice.
Kids are incredibly capable, and there is NO STOPPING a driven kid.
But sometimes, because they are young, they run into issues where they need an adult by their side. We tried to be there when she needed us. Which leads me to …
Lessons & Resources
One of the biggest things I’ve learned in this experience is to zip my lip. This is my daughter’s company, and therefore, she needs to make the decisions.
My girl is incredibly decisive. It’s a trait I admire because I am not. At all. So one of the things I’ve needed to do most is to recognize and minimize my need to intervene and respect her skill set.
Other kids might need more help with making major decisions, or they might need something else entirely. But as parents, we know our kids so well.The tricky part is giving them exactly what they actually need, without giving them all the extras we might think they need.
In a sense, we are working for them as business advisors.
So our job is to lend support, encouragement and helpful advice, and to do the things they literally can’t do because of age limitations, like drive them around and let them use the credit card.
My daughter (and the whole family) has learned have so much during this process. If you have a young entrepreneur who is itching to start a business, I would highly encourage you to not just let them, but to also make it part of your homeschool curriculum.
This has been an amazing adventure for our family, and I have the feeling that we’ve only just gotten started.
Some resources we found helpful:
Starting Your Own Business: Become an Entrepreneur!
How Any Kid Can Start a Business
Business Expense Journal
Note: Because my daughter’s candles are handmade in small batches right at our dining room table, her shop does sell out frequently. If you want to buy a candle, check back often, and for the latest updates, follow her at @cookie_candle_co on Instagram!
What business endeavours have you explored with your kids? How have you managed to work them into your homeschool? We would love to hear all about your adventures!
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