Do you have a teen entrepreneur?

Welcome everyone, I am so excited to share this guest post from my friend Jennifer Cook DeRosa from Homeschooling for College Credit. She and I share a sense of urgency to prepare our teens for the next chapter of their lives. We also share the mission to help parents make wise financial choices that will save their students money on a college degree.


Entrepreneur: The person a person who organizes, manages, or owns an enterprise, especially a business.


Entrepreneurship as a philosophy

My 4 sons (currently ages 12, 16, 18, 22), have all run simple businesses and shown strong entrepreneurial drive from a very early age- with no prompting from me AT ALL. I have, however, done my best to encourage this behavior because my husband and I support the idea of self-employment. I think most parents are led to believe that they should always encourage entrepreneurship in kids and teens, however, the idea of "working for yourself" is really a philosophical position, and may not mesh well with the principles you've chosen to emphasize in your children. So, before we continue, it's a good idea to think about how your family really views entrepreneurship. Is it something to be discouraged or encouraged? Do you support the idea of your son or daughter building a business, or would you rather they worked for someone else's business? Does the insecurity of starting a business bring out your own passion? Or fear?

The fact is, that if everyone were an entrepreneur, we'd have no real economy. We'd

have no small, medium, or large companies of any kind. Think about the two

entrepreneurs who founded Google: Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Though two men started the company, Google employs 72,000 people! These employees earn a nice living, are highly educated, and are part of a global company that changed the world. So clearly, we need entrepreneurs AND we need employees! As we go forward, know that neither path is "better" than the other. If your teen doesn't have an entrepreneurial drive- so what?! That's fine! In today's post, we'll look at ways to encourage the teens that DO have that drive, and I'll provide you with some high quality (free) resources you can use at home. At this point in your teen's life, you may already have a feeling about whether or not they desire to become an entrepreneur. If you're not sure, here are some clues:

Traits of entrepreneurial teens

  • Wants autonomy over their saving and spending of money.

  • Takes pride in earning their own money.

  • Likes to find the best deal on something they want to buy.

  • Makes deals and trades from a young age with siblings or friends.

  • Looks for ways to profit from deals and trades.

  • Finds their own solution to problems so they can get what they want or need. (movies, car, phone, sneakers, etc.)

  • Has their own ideas for running a small business (walking dogs, mowing, babysitting).

  • Follows through on their ideas for businesses or earning money.

  • Doesn't require pushing or encouragement to earn money.

  • Doesn't require pushing or encouragement to start a business.

  • Strategizes and sets goals to get the things they want.

  • Views themselves as capable of starting a small business.


Learning business through play

Do any of those traits sound familiar? I remember when my sons were very young, seated around their car track rug. They each set up their own car lot and dealership. After hours and hours of serious negotiation, each had negotiated and traded for their own selection of cars. I don't think they ever "played cars" on the rug by driving them around, for them, it was all business- all the time. Sometimes the negotiations were heated, but I always let them work out the deals. I was the parent, but I stayed out of their business. In other words, I listened and corrected any bad behavior (rudeness, mean words) but I always stayed completely out of trading and deal making. After all, I get that nobody wanted the ugly blue one with the wobbly wheel, or the slow purple one with a flower one hood...but they had to end up in someone's lot, so trading was usually serious business. I never minimized the importance of my kid's learning business through play. Kids learn early on whether or not it's ok to ask for what you want, negotiate, trade, escalate a deal, make compromises, close a deal, and leave the table with dignity. How we respond sends the message loud and clear. Negotiating was how my kids played cars.


Trading and deal-making is the game.


Saving is easy. Teach them to spend!

A byproduct of letting your teen spend (waste) their money, is that they learn how to spend money wisely. In our house, we have some family rules for giving and saving, but what's left is 100% theirs to spend (waste) as they choose. I realize this is probably a big counter-intuitive parenting tip, but when you control the teen's spending, they never feel the sting that comes from poor planning or lack of budgeting. Natural consequences are the best teacher, and when your teen has to choose between a night out with friends or buying a new pair of jeans, they'll have the opportunity to develop their "wisdom muscle." If my teen spends $10 on something that they later regret, that's an inexpensive life lesson: I don't have to say a thing. Life was their teacher. I'll happily let them squander $10 so they later don't misspend $10,000. Let's face it, adults don't have nearly as much trouble saving as they have learning how to spend money properly and carefully. Learning about budgeting when you're 5 is better than when you're 15, but learning at 15 is SO MUCH better than when you're 25, 35, 45, 55.... you've heard the ages of Dave Ramsey callers, right?

My older teens have successfully worked hard, saved, and spent their money on the thing they each wanted. Besides their own small businesses, they are old enough that they've also held paying jobs as employees (lifeguard, dishwasher, server, etc.) My older two love nice cars, and set that as their goal. From selecting, negotiating, buying, registering, maintaining, insuring, etc. their cars are 100% their responsibility. Taking responsibility has given them tremendous pride of ownership in how they operate and care for their vehicles.

PHOTO ABOVE: (Alex's Jeep) One of several cars purchased by Jennifer's sons WITH CASH.

PHOTO RIGHT: (Matt's Mustang). Just so no one thinks his mom paid for his car!

Great financial advice for teens

I highly recommend "Foundations in Personal Finance", the high school curriculum written by Dave Ramsey. It specifically emphasizes the principles he teaches adults, but with a teen-friendly approach. This isn't an affiliate link, I'm in no way associated with this product, I just happen to believe it's fantastic. You can check it out at

Foundations in Personal Finance High School Curriculum.

You can view the first chapter here: video.


FREE entrepreneurship curriculum

If you have a teen who has shown an interest in entrepreneurship, I want to offer you a FREE Teen Entrepreneur curriculum. I designed this course for my own teens and used it over the course of one semester, but it could be adapted to work in many different ways. The course combines free online content from MIT, reading material from respected and successful entrepreneurs, episodes from the popular tv show "Shark Tank" and an interactive lab. The course is absolutely FREE and will be sent straight to your inbox.


Whether you home school or not, be sure to visit Jennifer's website to find out how your teen can earn college credit while still in high school.

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