fbpx Skip to content

So Your Kid Wants to be the Next Mark Zuckerberg …

Many more teens now dream about starting a business. Here’s how parents can help.

Inspired by Millennial role models like Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Rent the Runway cofounders Jennifer Hyman and Jenny Fleiss, next-gen teens, wired from birth and known as Generation Z, are increasingly eyeing careers as entrepreneurs.

A recent nationwide survey of 13- to 17-years old found that an astounding nine out of 10 (87%) teens have an interest in starting their own business.

Yet “too much education is focused on becoming an employee,” explains business coach Dan Weedin, co-host of Shrimp Tank podcasts that help young entrepreneurs develop business ideas. “Parents can help,” he says. “Startups are risky and that’s why education, planning and preparation are important.”

Here’s how to bootstrap your youngster’s startup ambitions:

• Don’t skip the degree. “College and entrepreneurship are not mutually exclusive. You can do both, at the same time!” says Allison O’Kelly, who has three sons, age 13, 11 and 5. A Harvard MBA, O’Kelly launched her staffing firms, Mom Corps and Corps Team, after finding that high-profile jobs didn’t allow time for her family. “I would strongly encourage college, and a ‘first job’ and then I say go for it. It’s one of the only ways to have independent wealth and control over your schedule.”

• Involve your kid’s school. Organize a seminar or workshop of local business owners at the school or a community venue to explore the challenges of launching. Make sure to allow for a freewheeling Q&A for the kids afterward.

• Find a shadowing opportunity. Help your teen focus on a field that feels right—say, technology—then reach out to a local business to act as a mentor. Also research internship opportunities in your area. “There’s nothing better than finding someone who’s been there and done that,” says coach Weedin.

• Create an entrepreneur boot camp. Ask local owners and merchants to pitch in services and funding to set up an educational day (or weekend) at the local Y or similar facility to educate kids about starting a business. Most community colleges have business experts and professors to recruit and local businesses often look for sponsorships to boost their profile and attract customers.

Outside resources for young training and education include:

• Workshops at Microsoft and Apple stores: Check your local offerings. Microsoft stores have free workshops for kids specifically on entrepreneurship and some stores partner with Junior Achievement for advanced curriculum.

• Interviews with young entrepreneurs: Retire @ 21 covers the real voices of youngsters.

Educational training: Kidhire involves parents and monitors user activities for safety.

• News and videos about teen entrepreneurs: Teen Business provides info on teen entrepreneurs, investors and inventors from around the world while also highlighting social and green entrepreneurs.

Keep in mind that even if your teen doesn’t ultimately launch a business, instilling an entrepreneurial mindset will be a key asset in today’s job market. Teaching youngsters how to drive growth and change in any organization or business is a big plus.


_ Joanna L. Krotz  is the author of_ Being Equal Doesn’t Mean Being the Same: Why Behaving Like a Girl Can Change Your Life and Grow Your Businessa call to action to women to take the leap to become leaders. She hosts The Woman’s Playbook podcasts and also wrote The Guide to Intelligent Giving. _Joanna frequently speaks and writes on women’s leadership. Follow Joanna: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn_

Written by Joanna L. Krotz for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Working Mother